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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Professor A. C. Grayling

Anthony Grayling is Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, and a Supernumary Fellow of St Anne's College. He has written and edited many books, including Against All Gods and often writes for the Observer, the Economist, the Independent on Sunday and other newspapers and magazines. Grayling is also an ardent atheist, Fellow of the World Economic Forum and a member of its C-100 group on relations between the West and the Islamic world.

His latest books are Thinking of Answers: Questions in the Philosophy of Everyday Life and The Good Book.

"Secularism is not against religion – it's about having a neutral public domain, about allowing different points of view to have their place in the sun without privileging any one of them," he said. "I would like conservatives and fundamentalists in all religions to accept the principles of pluralism and secularismby the latter meaning a situation in which religious observance is a private affair wholly separated from the public and political domains. If this were to happen, a great amount of conflict would vanish from the world." "Current tendencies are the reverse of a move to pluralism and secularism everywhere – from the United States to the Middle East religious conservatives and fundamentalists are striving to impose their own particular visions on everyone else, sometimes by violent means, always by means of censorship of ideas and free speech, thus threatening to reverse the progress in liberty and enlightenment which has been central to the history of the modern western world."