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Newsline 7 July 2017

The latest British Social Attitudes survey again highlights Britain's rapidly changing religious landscape. Despite a long-term decline in religiosity, and the waning influence of religious ideas on British people's views, religion's public role remains undiminished. In our schools it's growing.

Some regard Britain's Christian traditions and practices as a defence against radical Islam. But insincere lip service to Christianity will never defend us against the malign forces of theocracy and extremism.

If we are going to successfully uphold our common values, we need to express them in a language we all understand. Sincere believers and non-believers alike must stand in solidarity to defend hard-won rights and freedoms. Free speech; equality; freedom of and from religion; the liberal idea of separation between state and religion.

The National Secular Society will always stand up for and promote these principles – which are universal and shared, not religion-specific. This week London hosts its Pride parade, and as we look back on Pride Month we are reminded of the harm which religious fundamentalism can do, as LGBT people face discrimination from fanatics around the world.

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Essays of the Week

Breaking the silence in the world capital of female genital mutilation
Hawa Aden Mohamed, executive director of the Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development, CNN

Pakistan's jirgas: buying peace at the expense of women's rights?
Ayesha Khan, researcher on gender and development issues, Open Democracy

NSS Speaks Out

This week we voiced our support for ending the requirement on schools to hold collective worship. Keith Porteous Wood, our executive director, appeared on BBC Radio Wales; our campaigns director Stephen Evans was on BBC Radio Leeds. Keith appeared on various local radio stations to express support for new guidelines which require pharmacists to put patient care ahead of their religious beliefs. He also criticised the Vatican response to child abuse on Turkish television station TRT World.

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