Positive religious feeling shadowed by ‘hostile’ media – psychiatrist

Positive religious feeling shadowed by ‘hostile’ media – psychiatrist Prof. Patricia Casey

A well-known psychiatrist has said she is “surprised” at survey results which found more Irish people disagree that religion does more harm than good, despite hostility in mainstream media.

Prof. Patricia Casey said there seems to be “anti-religious” sentiment among the majority of journalists and politicians. These are “out of touch” with a large proportion of the population, she added.

The Sign of the Times Survey 2019, published by Behaviour & Attitudes, found that 36% of people disagreed with the statement ‘Religion does more harm than good’. This is compared with 35% who agreed and 29% who remained neutral.

“There are very hostile people commenting on Twitter, and indeed writing in newspapers by and large – the vast majority of journalists. So I was pleasantly surprised,” said Prof. Casey.

“It suggests that they are out of touch, the problem is they will not act and modify any of their views unless they see the public speak out.”

Prof. Casey mentioned the dispute that erupted regarding the planned change in patronage of a Catholic primary school in Dublin last month.


Speaking of the parents that spoke out she said: “I think it will be in areas like that that it will become more obvious as time goes by but the public do need to have the courage to speak out about it.

“There has to be a media forum in which they can do it and in which people can express different opinions whether they’re religious opinions, political opinions or opinions on social issues.”

She added that many people know the harm that religion has done, but are also aware of the good.

“I’m also hoping that people’s own personal faith has remained, people would accept that a lot of evil things have happened but still tend their own faith,” Prof. Casey added.

The UCD professor recently published an article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health with two other academics entitled ‘The Role of Religion in Buffering the Impact of Stressful Life Events and Depressive Symptoms in Patients with Depressive Episodes or Adjustment Disorder’.

The survey also found that there may be some backlash regarding recent social and cultural changes in Ireland. Out of those surveyed 69% agreed that ‘society is too politically correct’.

Regarding the #MeToo movement 45% of men and 38% of women said it had gone too far. Of those surveyed 61% said that ‘Everything changes too quickly’ while 46% said they were neutral or had no pride in the same-sex marriage result which contrasts with the 62% of people who voted in favour of it in the 2015 referendum.