The churches are out of touch with the overwhelming majority of the public on social questions

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The Catholic Church has urged the electorate not to vote for candidates who support integrated education, abortion and same-sex marriage.

Yet, according to the recent LucidTalk poll, 74% believe that a single common school system is the best way to provide education in Northern Ireland.

The same poll also found that less than 1% thought the churches best represent the interests of children regarding education.

On abortion, according to a recent Millward Brown poll, 69% of people think the law should make access to abortion available where pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, and 60% of people think it should also make access to abortion available where the foetus has a fatal abnormality.

As for same-sex marriage, the evidence is undeniable. According to a 2015 Ipsos MORI poll, 68% of adults in Northern Ireland believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. This is even higher than the Yes vote of 62% in the Republic’s referendum.

Clearly therefore the Catholic Church and most of the mainstream Christian churches are completely out of touch with the ideas of the overwhelming majority of the population on these matters.

Increasingly, Irish people, north and south, are thinking for themselves and exercising their freedom of conscience.

They will no longer allow themselves to be manipulated and controlled on moral issues by reactionary religious bodies trapped in a medieval mindset that keeps our children apart and so many of our adults steeped in misery and guilt.

Brian McClinton, Humanist Association of Northern Ireland, BT27