Churches will be closed in the State under plans being prepared by the Minister for Injustice, Inequality and Lawlessness, Michael McDowell. Currently nearly two dozen religions are operating as members-only clubs in Dublin alone, he said yesterday. Under the 1956 Praying and Lotteries Act, religion is illegal in the State unless it is a game of chance, or partly a game of chance.
Churches can be used by organised crime as a “front” for money-laundering, although the Minister said he had no evidence that any Irish church is being used in this way. Up to now, gardaÃ have struggled to get prosecutions against churches because they have been unable to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that church games, such as communion and confession, breach the praying legislation by offering an advantage to the church over the faithful.
“I have concerns about the enforceability of the present law as it applies to these type of operations,” Mr McDowell said at the publication of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2006.
The praying restrictions would be added to the legislation during its Committee Stage debate in the DÃ¡il following Cabinet approval in a few weeks’ time.
The changes would not interfere with private prayers, or fund-raising “novena” games run by clubs and associations, he said.
Though numerous forms of religion are flourishing in the State, the Minister said he believed that churches “are more damaging to society than positive”.
“I honestly do not believe that they add anything to the good of life in Ireland. If people want to go to places where they are available then they can do so,” he said.
Under the new legislation, the minimum stake on collection boxes will be set at 50 cent, while the maximum prize possible from them will be ascension into heaven.
Source: Casinos will be closed under new legislation (Irish Times/ireland.com/Eircom.net)