1. Skip to content

Trouble reading this email? View newsletter online.

Newsline 11 August 2017

This week we learnt that Newcastle had joined a growing list of British cities blighted by widespread sexual abuse, committed by gangs of mainly Muslim men. Too often when crimes like these happen, our policy makers mouth platitudes and take the easy way out: they turn to faith groups or 'community leaders' for a solution.

The fear of bigots exploiting the news to push an anti-Muslim agenda is understandable. But we should not accept the bigotry of low expectations, or invest effort and resources in people who have minimal expertise in child protection and represent nobody but themselves. These responses simply worsen the divide and suspicions between different social groups.

As Yasmin Rehman writes in our blog, this thorny issue requires a clear-headed, secular response. There is no need for faith to play a part in tackling sex abuse. The point is to protect our children and our free, tolerant society – not to indulge or demonise groups of people, and not to make ourselves feel good.

We have also been reminded of religion's unearned power in Northern Ireland and the USA. Many British people took new interest in the DUP in June, when it made a deal with the Conservatives. But in Northern Ireland their policies continue to restrict the choices of many women and LGBT+ people. Similarly, in the US, the religious right continues to promote the freedom of believers over those of non-believers.

This week we also have coverage of Malaysia's clampdown on ex-Muslims; three setbacks for the lobbyists trying to play the victim to undermine counter-radicalisation measures; and a tongue-in-cheek blog from a parent in Australia, who uses food to critique a school's policy on collective worship.

Please support the NSS today and join thousands of other people like you in standing up for a secular Britain.

Read this week's Newsline in full (PDF)

Newcastle: what's faith got to do with it?

Newcastle: what's faith got to do with it?

Opinion | Thu, 10 Aug 2017

A group of mainly Muslim men has been convicted for sexual abuse in another British city. Amid a predictable response, Yasmin Rehman says child protection does not require the involvement of faith groups or 'community leaders'.

DUP vows to resist calls to legalise abortion and same-sex marriage

DUP vows to resist calls to legalise abortion and same-sex marriage

News | Fri, 11 Aug 2017

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said her party will retain Northern Ireland's restrictions on abortion and same-sex marriage, despite growing pressure for reform.

Sam Brownback: Trump’s new man is no fan of religious freedom

Sam Brownback: Trump’s new man is no fan of religious freedom

Opinion | Wed, 09 Aug 2017

The record of President Trump's new nominee exposes the hypocrisy of the US religious right. Chris Sloggett argues that its opponents must challenge the ingrained assumption that faith is a good thing.

Food for thought! Imposing worship in Australian schools

Food for thought! Imposing worship in Australian schools

Opinion | Thu, 10 Aug 2017

Blinkers go on when people talk about religion. So one parent in a Queensland school thought she would use food to explain the impact of the school's version of 'inclusiveness'. The school tells her that her child can go somewhere else while the prayer is being said. The picture is of the prayer recited at the regular assembly.

Abolish the oath: moral prejudice against atheists may bias courtroom decisions

Abolish the oath: moral prejudice against atheists may bias courtroom decisions

By Ryan McKay and Colin Davis, for The Conversation

Moral suspicion of atheists is widespread and deeply entrenched – and has important implications in the judicial system. This means the religious oath taken in court is in need of reform.

Islam, race and interracial marriage

Islam, race and interracial marriage

By Tehmina Kazi, for Sedaa

The former director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy asks why has there been a taboo on interracial marriage within Islam, and looks at efforts being made to tackle it.

This email has been sent to you by National Secular Society in accordance with our Privacy Policy.
Address: 25 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4RL, United Kingdom.
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7404 3126

Please Note: Newsline provides links to external websites for information and in the interests of free exchange. We do not accept any responsibility for the content of those sites, nor does a link indicate approval or imply endorsement of those sites.

Please feel free to use the material in this Newsline with appropriate acknowledgement of source. Neither Newsline nor the NSS is responsible for the content of websites to which it provides links. Nor does the NSS or Newsline necessarily endorse quotes and comments by contributors, they are brought to you in the interests of the free exchange of information and open debate.