For the past couple of years, I have been thinking about how people in Ireland view faith. It has to do with Irish prosperity and the freedom they experienced from an oppressive faith. I went into a bit more detail here. (this article will make more sense if you read that). Here is my working theory: The basic idea is based on the fact that Ireland has, over the past 50 years, moved from being one of the poorer nations in Europe to one of the wealthiest nations in the world.

That shift correlates to Ireland’s transition from a nation living under an oppressive religious system placed upon them by the church and their government.

I was thinking of this as I read an article in the Irish Times this week detailing a visit by Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, where she spoke to government leaders in the Oireachtas.

Here is the article if you would like to read it.

In her presentation, she spoke of Ireland’s five virtues, passion for freedom, stubbornness, ingenuity, openness and optimism. It was a complementary (& deserved) speech.

Something else in the article reminded me of my thinking regarding Ireland and faith.

Ireland’s most important virtue was its “optimism”, with 83 per cent of the State optimistic about the EU’s future, the same as when it joined 50 years ago.

Since then Ireland’s GDP had gone from about half the EU average to double it.

“Ireland shows ‘Europe’s best face’, Ursula von der Leyen tells Oireachtas”, Irish Times, December 1, 2022, Marie O’Halloran

Read that second sentence again. That has happened in less than 50 years.

Ireland was required to change some of its more oppressive, religious-based laws upon joining the EU. It is difficult not to see the connection.

You may despise the type of religious oppression forced upon the people of Ireland. But if they believe faith, Jesus and church are all tied in with how things used to be, how would you chart a path forward? How would you talk about Jesus that doesn’t instantly close doors to further conversations?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Does this make sense? If so, what does the way forward look like? If not, why not?

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash