As I read through this thread, I see a couple of people who apparently want to see the Catholic Mass, which often is offered as part of weekend trad music activities in the US offered through Comhaltas banned, in the name of religious tolerance. Do I have that right? That the argument being put forth is that there should be no religious services ever offered in conjunction with any Comhaltas events?
I find that to be pretty stupid. Comhaltas isn't the only Irish music organization that does this. Milwaukee Irish Fest and just about every other Irish music festival in the US offers a voluntary Mass as part of their weekend festival activities (of which there are many to choose).
As No Doubt correctly points out, Comhaltas is an Irish organization with branches around the world. For 50 years, many Comhaltas branches with predominantly Catholic membership, have held a Mass with the weekend festivals, again they are strictly for those who wish to attend. Attending the Mass is not compulsory. In fact, if you don't attend the Mass, you'd never even know that it exists as part of most branch festivals. Membership in the organization is open to anyone who supports the aims and mission of the organization, which is non-denominational.
As No Doubt has pointed out, this is an Irish arts and cultural organization, based in the Republic of Ireland. The religious make up of the Republic is 95% Catholic, of the North, nearly 50% Catholic. I think it can safely be said that in Ireland, Comhaltas isn't excluding anyone by offering voluntary services for Catholics and Protestants.
If people don't like the Catholic dimension of Comhaltas, they have two options: either don't attend the Mass (which is what many I know who attend Comhaltas events do) or get your Irish traditional music elsewhere (which is what the majority of musicians I know who are interested in the music do).
Comhaltas has already changed a lot over the years, as the popularity of the music has grown. Many here have made the very reasonable suggestion that information on Protestant services be included. As many have pointed out, they already are. In some branches, there is no religious service on Sunday mornings, and the events are just language, music & culture related. It looks to me like the only religious intolerance here is on the part of the folks who want to ban the Catholic Mass, not the other way round.
I agree Mrs. Doubting Thomas, your husband started a stupid argument that didn't need to be vetted publicly.