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Upsurge reported in US university religious practice

Chaplains across the US are reporting a significant increase in religious practice at college campuses, according to a report in today's New York Times. Students are being drawn to religion and spirituality with more fervour than college staff can ever remember.

The report cited Peter J. Gomes, a preacher at Harvard University, who claimed that there was “more active religious life now than there has been in 100 years.” Harvard is one of the most prestigious colleges in the US, and is traditionally regarded as a bastion of secularism.

Dozens of college administrators and lecturers are reporting that more American students are enrolling in religion courses, even majoring in religion; more are living in accommodation where faith and spirituality are seriously discussed, the report said.

A survey on the spiritual lives of college students in 2004 showed that more than two-thirds of 112,000 first year students surveyed said they prayed. Almost 80 percent believed in God. Nearly half of first years said they were seeking opportunities to grow spiritually, according to the survey by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Charles L. Cohen, a professor of history and religious studies at the University of Wisconsin, said that “there is a greater interest in religion on campus, both intellectually and spiritually,” compared to a decade ago.

Some sociologists who study religion, however, express mild scepticism that students have become more religious, citing a lack of data to compare current students with those of previous generations. But even some of those concerned about the data say something has shifted.

“All I hear from everybody is yes, there is growing interest in religion and spirituality and an openness on college campuses,” said Christian Smith, a professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame. “Everybody who is talking about it says something seems to be going on.”

Lesleigh Cushing, an assistant professor of religion and Jewish studies at Colgate University, said: “I can fill basically any class on the Bible. I wasn’t expecting that.”

The number of student religious organizations at Colgate has grown to 11 from 5 in recent years.

02/05/07

Big increase in number of single parent families: CSO figures

There has been a 70 per cent increase in the number of single parent families in the State since 1997. According to a CSO report, there were 73,700 single parent families in 1997, while in 2006 there were 125,600 such families.

01/05/07
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Taoiseach takes another swipe at “aggressive secularists”

People who believe that religion has no part to play in public life “infringe on other people's rights” according to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Mr Ahern made the comments in response to a question from Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny regarding the structured dialogue between the State and the Churches.

01/05/07
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Parents hardly matter, says psychologist

Nature is more important than nurture for a child's development, according to a new book by US psychologist Judith Rich Harris. Ms Harris, in a article in the latest edition of UK magazine Prospect, argues that genetic make-up has far more impact on how a child will turn out than the kind of parenting he or she receives.

26/04/07
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No demand for prenuptial agreements, say Accord

Accord, the Catholic marriage counselling agency, have said that there is no demand for the recognition of prenuptial agreements. They were responding to a Government backed report, published yesterday, calling for prenuptial agreements to be formally recognised for the first time.

26/04/07
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Religious practice helps children: new report

Children with religious parents behave better and are better adjusted than other children. That's according to a new study looking at the effects of religion on young child development. The research was carried out by sociologist John Bartkowski from Mississippi State University.

25/04/07
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Vast majority of recently married couples are happy, says new poll

The vast majority of recently married couples are very happy with their marriages, according to a new poll commissioned by Accord, the Catholic marriage support service.

24/04/07
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Limerick mums youngest, Dun Laoghaire oldest, says new figures

Women with better education and more career opportunities are delaying longer before having children, new census figures show. The most affluent area in the country, Dun Laoghaire/ Rathdown in Co Dublin, now has the oldest first-time mums in the State with an average age of 30.9.

19/04/07
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Multiple marriages leading to “explosion” of challenges to wills

Probate lawyers say that the huge recent increase in divorce figures has led to sons and daughters of first, second and sometimes third marriages squabbling over wills. They are fighting each other, their dead father's second wives or even third wives and their half brothers and sisters.

19/04/07
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“Don't marry under any circumstances”, wealthy told

A leading family solicitor has said that the state of current divorce law means that marriage is a potential pitfall for businesspeople or anyone with wealth because if they divorce, their original settlements can be challenged by former spouses sometimes years after the break up.

19/04/07
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Health executive urge parents to listen to children

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has begun a multi million euro campaign to encourage parents to listen to their children. According to the HSE, the key aim of the campaign “is to encourage communication between children and adults”

17/04/07
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Union head calls for sweeping changes to school RE.

The Catholic Church should accept a reduced role in primary schools, according to John Carr, the General Secretary of the Irish National Teacher's Organisation (INTO).

12/04/07
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Survey finds strong link between binge drinking and casual sex

Almost one third of people binge drink before sex, according to a new survey into the link between casual sex and alcohol.

12/04/07
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Growing number of UK children being raised by lone parents, figures show

Britons are increasingly likely to live in single-parent families, according to new official figures. The Office for National Statistics said children in Britain are three times more likely to live in one-parent households now than they were in 1972.

11/04/07
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Iona poll on religious knowledge receives extensive coverage

A poll showing a marked decline in religious knowledge amongst young people, sponsored by the Iona Institute, received widespread coverage yesterday in both print and broadcast media. The poll was covered on RTE's 6 o'clock and 9 o'clock news. Various radio stations discussed the story during the day.

10/04/07
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Day care produces “anti-social” toddlers says new study

Toddlers who spend three days a week in day care are more likely to develop "anti-social" behaviour, research by the UK government has found.

05/04/07
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Leading academic turns against proposed children's referendum

One of Ireland's leading Constitutional experts, Professor Gerry Whyte of Trinity College, Dublin, has expressed serious concerns about the Government's proposed children's rights referendum. He said that he was “unsure we can improve on the current Constitutional formula” regarding the family. He was speaking at a debate last on the proposal sponsored by the Newman Soceity in UCD.

04/04/07
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Huge increase in marital breakdown, latest Census figures show

The number of divorced people has skyrocketed by almost 70 per cent since the last Census in 2002, according to the 2006 Census. There are now 59,534 divorced people in Ireland, compared 35,059 in 2002. This constitutes an increase of 69.2 per cent.

29/03/07
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Government considering recognition of prenuptial agreements

Justice Minister Michael McDowell is to set up a study group to analyse the issue of pre-marital provisions in the event of a marriage break-up, which Irish courts do not currently recognise.

28/03/07
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Fianna Fail latest to join move to raise home carers allowance

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has pledged to double the home carer's allowance from 770 to 1540 a week if re-elected. Mr Ahern made the promise in the course of his pre-election Fianna Fail Ard Fheis speech last Saturday. Fianna Fail are now the fourth party pledged to increasing the home carers allowance.

27/03/07
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"The child...shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents."

Article 7. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.