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Newsline 27 October 2017

  

We're pleased to report in this week's Newsline that councillors in Lancashire have voted to take non-stunned halal meat off school menus, following NSS campaigning. Ultimately we want the religious exemption from animal welfare laws – what allows non-stun slaughter – to be abolished. We've written to the Environment Secretary calling for this, and you can support the campaign by writing to your MP today.

Today is International Freedom of Religion or Belief Day, throughout the world theocracy in all its forms remains the greatest threat to freedom of and from religion. That's why we continue to campaign for secularism – the position that religion shouldn't have state power and that no one should be privileged or discriminated against because of their religion or belief.

Sadly, opponents of secularism continue to misuse the term 'religious freedom' in an effort to seek special privileges, exemptions and rights to discriminate. With your support we'll continue to challenge such efforts on all fronts.

  

News & Opinion

 

Success! Lancashire votes to take un-stunned meat off school menus

The NSS has welcomed a decision from Lancashire Council to only supply halal meat from animals that have been stunned before slaughter to schools.

 

Tribunal rejects ‘religious discrimination’ case against the NHS

A 'devout Christian' who was sacked as an NHS director after opposing same-sex adoption has lost his claim for religious discrimination.

 

Protecting freedom of belief for the many and the few

Ahead of International Freedom of Religion or Belief Day, Megan Manson looks at democratic secularism's changing role in an age of the non-religious minority and rising diversity.

 

Abuse Inquiry to investigate Benedictine institutions

An upcoming hearing of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will be an opportunity to examine the reality behind the Catholic Church's claims that it has transformed its approach to child protection, says Richard Scorer.

 

Whence secularism in Africa?

Secularism and controversies regarding the relationship between religion and state have deep roots in Africa's socio–political history, but are increasingly relevant to many pressing human rights issues, argues Leo Igwe.

 

To spank or not to spank – a biblical right?

With Christian groups leading the opposition to Scotland's new smacking ban, Alistair McBay explores the many instances of Christian schools and campaigners demanding the ability to spank children as a religious or even biblical right.

 

Hackney roots of a true radical

Hackney Today celebrates the life of Charles Bradlaugh: reformist, republican and MP. The Hackney Archives holds a large collection of material relating to Charles Bradlaugh deposited by the National Secular Society. This includes a series of beautifully illustrated addresses and testimonials from delegates to the fifth Indian National Congress in 1889.

  
  

Quote of the week

"The failure of our politicians to legislate for change has left me with no choice but to turn to the courts to have my rights upheld."
Sarah Ewart, explains why she has been forced to challenge Northern Ireland's draconian anti-abortion laws at the Supreme Court

"The UK Government is clear that the persecution of individuals of any faith remains of profound concern. The freedom to practise, change or share faith or belief without discrimination or violent opposition is a fundamental human right. Societies that aim to protect and promote freedom of religion or belief are more stable, prosperous and more resilient against violent extremism."
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State, responds to concerns about forced religious conversions in Myanmar's military run schools

  

Essays of the week

The Al-Hijrah School ruling was a demonstration of powerful women in action
By Amina Lone, for Sedaa

Women are often the first victims of extremism whether it is in policing what they wear, where they go, how they live or as victims of domestic violence. Society looks, but we don't see. We hear, but we don't listen. Like campaigning for a new crossing on a dangerous road, an accident(s) has to happen before we act.

Interim report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
By Ahmed Shaheed, for the United Nations

The interim report by the special rapporteur shows that three-quarters of the world's population live in countries that either restrict the right to religion or belief or have "a high level of social hostility involving religion or belief". Particular concerns include 'anti-blasphemy' and 'anti-apostasy' laws, as well as the 'politicization of religion or belief'.

  

NSS speaks out

Our campaigns director was quoted in The TES about the implications of a recent court ruling for faith based gender segregation in schools. The essay of the week from Sedaa also highlights our support.

  

From the archives

 

Where there is state religion, there is less freedom

In a recent paper, "State Religion and Freedom: A Comparative Analysis", published by the Religion and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association, Professor Steven Kettell discusses the findings of his comparative analysis on the relationship between state religion and individual freedom.

 

Secularism protects us all. Let's embrace it.

Britain today is one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world, with more non-believers than ever before. With society at risk of fragmenting along religious lines, secularism could be our salvation, argues Stephen Evans.

  

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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