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Newsline 20 October 2017

  

Education remains the most important battleground for secularists in the UK. And if schools are a microcosm of tomorrow's society, promoters of the secularist cause are about to face a busy and testing few years. This week parents of primary school children in Tunbridge Wells have resisted the spread of evangelism – and been branded "extremists" for raising reasonable concerns. The Government is failing to address faith schools' ability to discriminate when they hire teachers, and more children are attending C of E services during school time.

But last Friday brought a significant piece of positive news: the Court of Appeal ruled that gender segregation at a state-funded Islamic school was unlawful sex discrimination. We hope this will give policy makers and Ofsted inspectors confidence that society will support them when they stand up to attempts to introduce intolerant practices into our children's schools under the guise of religion.

  

News & Opinion

 

NSS welcomes ruling: Islamic school's gender segregation unlawful

The NSS has welcomed a ruling in the Court of Appeal that an Islamic school's policy of gender segregation was unlawful.

 

Al-Hijrah School ruling: The fight to end segregation has only just begun

The ruling that an Islamic faith school's policy of gender segregation is unlawful should force us to have have a broader conversation about the religious segregation and inequality our children face in UK schools, argues Megan Manson

 

Parents’ protests stop evangelism in Kent school

A primary school in Kent has stopped inviting a Christian evangelist group to lead assemblies and lessons, following complaints from parents.

 

Government ‘obfuscates’ over faith schools' teacher discrimination

The NSS has accused the government of obfuscating over the extent of religious schools' ability to discriminate when hiring teachers.

 

C of E school services grow as congregations decline

The number of children attending Church of England services during school time has risen for at least the third consecutive year.

 

Donations fuel record C of E parish income

Income generated by Church of England parishes topped £1 billion for the first time in 2015.

 

Book review: ‘The rage: the vicious circle of Islamist and far-right extremism’

Julia Ebner's new book explores the symbiotic relationship between Islamist and (other) far right extremism, how Islamist and anti-Muslim narratives feed each other, and how we can challenge both.

  
  

Read elsewhere

 

Disestablish and be damned

By Richard Scorer, NSS council member, for New Humanist

The Church of England continues to hold incredible constitutional power, to the detriment of the UK. Ultimately, the continuance of an established Church must be unsustainable.

 

Christian A-level equivalent exams 'don't equip pupils to survive on earth'

By Adi Bloom, for TES

Academics say a set of Christian exams that have been deemed comparable to GCSEs and A-levels are failing to prepare pupils for university – or the modern world.

  

Quote of the week

"Only a bigot would deny the advantages of freedom of religion, and irreligion, and of a society in which the evidence of science, and comparative lack of evidence of God, are no longer suppressed. It's a development that's both caused by and causes greater understanding, justice and compassion."
David Mitchell, actor, writer and comedian

  

Essays of the week

We should face the fact that religion can be child abuse
By Douglas Robertson, for the Independent

The reported death of ISIS recruiter Sally Jones and her 12-year-old son should encourage us to question the culturally embedded and long unquestioned inheritance of religion.

The war on hate speech is a war on free speech
By Terri Murray, for Conatus News

Free speech is the last defence of minorities, protecting them from the overwhelming power of the state and the tyranny of the majority.

  

NSS speaks out

Our campaigns director Stephen Evans was quoted in the Guardian and Mail in response to the Court of Appeal's ruling on gender segregation.

  

Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the National Secular Society will be held on Saturday 25 November 2017 in the Main Hall at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4RL at 1:30 p.m. Registration will start at 1:00 p.m. Please arrive promptly. Tea, coffee and soft drinks will be available before the meeting.

The meeting is open to paid-up members and affiliated group representatives only. Only one representative of each affiliated group will be admitted, and they will be able to cast a vote on its behalf if they bring an authorising letter from their organisation. Your Council hopes that as many members as possible will come to participate in the meeting and have the opportunity to meet the Council, staff and other members. We particularly welcome those who have not been to an AGM before.

  

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