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Newsline 18 August 2017

In Charlottesville and Barcelona this week, as in London before them, Islamist and nationalist far right movements have aped each other's tactics and rhetoric.

In the aftermath of Saturday's events in Virginia, many business and infrastructure advisers distanced themselves from President Trump. But even as he equivocated in his denunciation of neo-Nazis, his evangelical religious advisers stood by him. It is therefore timely that in one of our essays of the week, Rob Boston looks at the similarities between America's religious right and its resurgent far right.

Five days later more crowds of innocent people were mown down in a jihadist attack in Catalonia. European societies are left asking habitual questions about multiculturalism and the role of Islam. But meanwhile the continued fallout from the Newcastle grooming scandal has taken a familiar turn, as politicians and the media turned their focus on columns in The Sun newspaper.

We must continue to challenge those who make sweeping generalisations about Muslims, and using language such as 'The Muslim Problem' is worthy of criticism. But we must also create an environment in which people are able to speak freely about the great challenges that our societies face, and our policy makers appear intent on addressing them rather than closing down debate about them.

This makes it all the more important to repeal laws which prohibit 'blasphemy'. When states try to silence criticism of religion, they create a terrible weapon to use against dissenters and minorities. Our lead story highlights the extent of this problem worldwide. Elsewhere, the plight of the Rohingya is a reminder that Muslims are among the minorities that suffer when religion merges with nationalism.

Closer to home, religious groups continue to undermine LGBT+ rights. A court has ruled that there is no need for same-sex marriages to be legally recognised in Northern Ireland. And a Liverpool church has defended its barbaric gay 'conversion therapy' on the grounds that "nobody has dropped dead".

The campaign against faith schools in Scotland goes on, as the opening of a joint campus between a Catholic school and a Jewish one is erroneously hailed as a great leap forward for inclusive education.

Our executive director commends the recommendation of a royal commission in Australia, which said the clergy should face the same rules on reporting child abuse as the rest of us. And in another piece for Politics.co.uk, he explains why the government seems so reluctant to introduce a caste discrimination law.

Newsline will probably be taking a break for a couple of weeks, but we aim to be back on September 8th with an improved format.

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

NSS calls for ban on ‘gay conversion therapies’ after church starvation

NSS calls for ban on ‘gay conversion therapies’ after church starvation

News | Thu, 17 Aug 2017

The NSS has called on the government to consider banning so-called gay conversion 'therapies' after a Liverpool church encouraged LGBT+ people to starve themselves for long periods.

Same-sex marriages need not be recognised in NI, court rules

Same-sex marriages need not be recognised in NI, court rules

News | Fri, 18 Aug 2017

The High Court has ruled that same-sex marriages which are entered into in England do not need to be recognised in Northern Ireland.

The confessional shouldn’t shield child abuse from reporting

The confessional shouldn’t shield child abuse from reporting

Opinion | Wed, 16 Aug 2017

The Australian abuse commission is right not to exempt the confessional from reporting obligations, and its rigour should provide a model to reverse the backsliding already all too clear in the UK, argues Keith Porteous Wood.

Caught between Hindu and Buddhist nationalists: Rohingya Muslims face expulsion

Caught between Hindu and Buddhist nationalists: Rohingya Muslims face expulsion

News | Thu, 17 Aug 2017

The Indian government plans to deport 40,000 Rohingya Muslims living in the country to Myanmar after labelling them all illegal immigrants.

Caste discrimination: Why won't the government legislate?

Caste discrimination: Why won't the government legislate?

By Keith Porteous Wood, NSS executive director, for Politics.co.uk

The government is in hock to the increasingly powerful Hindu right. But those campaigning for a law on caste discrimination are in no mood to quit.

NSS Speaks Out

Council member and abuse lawyer Richard Scorer criticised the culture of secrecy that has facilitated child abuse among Benedictine monks in The Observer. And NSS vice-president Alistair McBay had a letter published in The Scotsman. It highlighted the Catholic Bishop of Motherwell's endorsement of a group which claims to help young LGBT+ people avoid same-sex attraction.

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