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Newsline 13 October 2017

  

We challenge the unfair special advantages given to religion whether they occur in localised disputes or at an international level. This week we've lobbied an academy trust and an MP over a plan to merge a non-religious school in Norfolk into a Christian one. And on the International Day of the Girl, we wrote to UNESCO to raise concerns over the fact it grants World Heritage Status to religious sites which ban women from entering.

In an uncertain political period around the world, this is a vital time in the campaign for secularism. But it may also be a propitious one for making the case, particularly in Britain. Another poll has shown how detached the country's institutions are from the attitudes of its people on religious issues. The many quiet supporters of secularism in Britain need a voice. We thank you for your support as we provide it.

  

News & Opinion

 

Parents protest plan to merge non-religious school into Christian one

Parents and children have taken to the streets to protest plans to merge Trafalgar College, a school without a religious ethos, into the Christian Great Yarmouth Charter Academy.

 

More than 60% of Brits under 65 say religion does “more harm than good”

Most Brits under 65 think religion does more harm than good, with no evidence linking this to religious intolerance. Just 23% say religion defines them personally.

 

UNESCO: Putting religious privilege above gender equality

UNESCO says gender equality is one of its top priorities. But Megan Manson says it is protecting misogynistic attitudes by awarding World Heritage Status to religious sites that practise sexual discrimination.

 

Religious Right supports state backed prayers, until they’re Islamic

Claims of ecumenicalism and pluralism are often used to smuggle exclusively Christian privilege into public institutions. Christian secularist Paul Lusk asks what we should do about that.

 

Student U-turn over Christian Union ban at Oxford College

Organisers will allow the Christian Union to exhibit at future freshers' fairs at an Oxford college, after an earlier decision to ban it.

  

Quotes of the week

"I think the church needs to rethink the whole safeguarding thing. The stock response is still to hide behind the sofa and call the lawyers".
The Right Rev Dr Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham

"The biggest driver of anti-Muslim hate is terrorist attacks – the research is very clear here. We need to be honest. Not wanting to acknowledge that terrorism is the biggest driver, and to blame the media instead, is very much an Islamist narrative."
Fiyaz Mughal, Director of Faith Matters

  

Essays of the week

A new street was meant to bridge Belfast's sectarian divide. Then the doorbell rang
By Patrick Kingsley, for the New York Times

Recent events in Cantrell Close have raised doubts over the potential for integration and a post-sectarian society in Belfast.

Dear religious anti-abortionists, stop intimidating women outside hospitals
By Sarah Cheverton, for the Huffington Post

As Ealing Council takes measures to ban protesters from harassing women outside abortion clinics, Sarah Cheverton writes an open letter to protesters in Portsmouth. She says she is not trying to change their minds, but that they should reconsider their tactics.

It is essential for Muslim countries to espouse secularism
By Raza Habib Raja, for the Huffington Post

Secularists should challenge the severe misconceptions about their cause that exist across much of the Islamic world.

  

NSS Bulletin 67: Autumn 2017

Our latest Bulletin is now available. We have news of Britain's changing religious landscape, concerns over the future of human rights in the UK, a report on our sponsorship of the 'Glastonbury of Freethinkers' and more.

  

Events

The work of the National Secular Society: NSS Talk at Kent Humanists

Date: Sunday 15 October 2017, 2:30pm–4:30pm
Location: St Stephens Church Hall, Hales Drive, St Stephens, Canterbury, CT2 7AB
Details: Kent Humanists are affiliated to the National Secular Society (NSS) whose aim is to promote secularism, ie, the separation of the state from religion. A member of the NSS will be speaking.

  

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