Dawns a New Era for the Irish
By Watch Tower missionary in Eire
EIRE is where the Irish come from. People generally call it Ireland. The land of green is predominantly Catholic, as far as religion goes. And Christian missionaries find it a fruitful field for the preaching of the Kingdom gospel.
The Irish, however, are a dubious lot. This, perhaps, because in times past many un-Christian acts were committed in the name of Christianity. Being Catholics, they resent being preached to and feel no need of the Kingdom gospel. So many times the missionaries are told, “Why don’t you go to pagan America or pagan England to do your work? We don’t need you here!” Yet these same ones are woefully ignorant of the Bible and the Kingdom message. To many Irish Catholics everything not Catholic is pagan. But, of course, there are some who do not agree with this view.
To understand the Irish people is to love them. They are an interesting people to work with and talk to. Not all Irish are fun-loving, friendly and lovable, as pictured in song and story. Their heritage and culture must be understood before one can come close to understanding their behavior. For example: A housewife might greet you with a big smile and assure you that she is a Christian, but immediately and loudly drive you from her door when she sees a Bible in your hand. “Strange conduct for a Christian,” you say. Perhaps so, but not for the Irish. You must understand them.
From childhood the Irish have been taught that every religion in the world is opposed to their religion, that theirs is the only one having divine right to exist, that all other religions are merely tolerated and that they continue through the benevolent sufferance of the Catholic clergy. They are taught that Bible knowledge is not necessary for Christians, only a strict adherence to and belief in the church and its religious leaders is all-important. To keep their flocks from reading Bible literature the clergy tell their parishioners that it is communistic. This seems to frighten them sufficiently so they will not investigate for themselves.
Fear has a great hold on the people. People are afraid of what their neighbors, their friends, relatives and clergy might think if they were even so much as to read the Bible on their own. For centuries the clergy have dominated their lives, told them what they can read, what they should believe and do. To ask a sound religious question is a demonstration of lack of faith in God and the church, according to the clergy. As a result, the Irish people do very little independent thinking. They are victims of the clergy and fear; but freedom is in sight.
The Word of God, the Bible, “is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of the soul and spirit, and of the joints and their marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart”—this all-powerful freeing agent has penetrated the land of the Irish and is bringing about a most welcome reawakening. Recently a Catholic priest remarked that Jehovah’s witnesses are doing more to encourage Catholic people to read the Catholic Bible than any other group. This is most encouraging, because Bible knowledge brings truth and it is the truth that sets men free. Having this in mind, we can see a new era for Eire is dawning.—Heb. 4:12; John 8:32.