Religious identity and the future of Northern Ireland

R. J. McAllister, Elizabethtown College


Religion matters in Northern Ireland because it shapes social and personal identity and influences the very different worldviews of people within the two cultures of the province (Protestant and Catholic). Because religion matters so profoundly, no long-term solution to the political problems of the province will be possible without acknowledging its impact on values and thinking. The significance of the expressions "the Catholic community" and "the Protestant people" is explored as is the impact of religious ideas on current policy issues. A comparison of Northern Ireland and the United States is offered as a way of suggesting the effect social and economic mobility will have on attempts to resolve the province's political troubles.