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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

What Our Members Say

It seems bizarre to me that in this day and age, collective worship still takes place in schools and that children can be segregated and discriminated against according to their parents' religion when it comes to admissions. As someone who is getting married this year, and thus the likelihood of having children being vastly increased, this worries me immensely. Being taught superstition and myths as truth, or opting out and thus making the child wonder why they're being singled out and separated from their school friends isn't a choice I look forward to making. The NSS is all we have to take on the might of these giant multi-billion pound tax-exempt organisations that are given free access to our children by the state.

Martin, Darlington

"I decided to join the NSS because I am fed up of politicians acting as though a dilemma exists between equality, civil rights, and religious freedom. This is evident in the policies on religious slaughter, equal marriage, and evangelism in schools. No such dilemma exists. Secularism presents the ideal compromise which would lead to a truly equal and multicultural Britain. I live in hope that the political parties will eventually realise this."

Tom, Liskeard

"I have recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and have been thinking more about my legacy and end of life issues. I am concerned about assisted suicide being currently illegal in the UK; this is a policy area which suffers from strong religious lobbying. The imposition of a 'natural' life term against the wishes of a mentally competent and suffering person seems barbaric."

Alison, Aberdeen

I find the privilege provided to religion within our society to be intolerable. It is tiresome to repeatedly hear and see the straw man view of secularism being cynically attacked by those who wish only to preserve the status quo, and who see anything but religious privilege as them being persecuted. It is tiresome when my local MP defends religious schools because, as a Christian, he feels he has the right to send his children to a school with a Christian ethos – and we now find that some local parents cannot find a non-religious school and have to fight for their children's rights. Surprise? I found the NSS to be one of the major organisations effectively working to address these inequalities, and that is why I support the NSS".

Dalis, Bucks

"As a medical student, what concerns me most is NHS funding for hospital chaplains."

Brendan, Lisburn, Co. Antrim

"As a retired head of a comprehensive school, I am very concerned at the growth of so-called 'faith' schools. I very strongly believe they are dangerous, divisive and a threat to our open society."

Andrew, London

I had been thinking about joining the NSS for a while. It's all very well pointing the finger at Islamic faith schools and suggesting they are potentially damaging children, but the only way to solve this whole problem is to leave all religion out of education. The situation in Sudan with apostasy - again, the only whole solution is to leave religion out of law. I'm not anti-religion, but I am against giving any or all religions a free ride.

Tom, Leeds

In many ways I think it was inevitable that I would eventually get around to joining (the NSS) as their stated General Principles very accurately represent my outlook. I feel very strongly that religious beliefs are valid and appropriate when held and practiced privately, but that if you use your beliefs to justify your actions towards others then you must in turn be prepared to justify your beliefs.

What prompted me finally to join was simply that I felt I had had enough of religious organisations trying to establish themselves as being above criticism. That it is not possible to criticise or comment on religious practices without being told that you are being offensive frankly scares me.

My privately held views on dogma vs. reason are not something I feel I can act on publicly, but in Secularism there is a cause for which I can be politically active. Ultimately it's about removing the archaic rights given to religions to infringe my liberty.

Nicklas, Haywards Heath

"I joined NSS because I sense that those who promote religious observance are becoming more strident, and I believe we need a stronger voice in opposition."

James, Guilford.

"I was spurred on to join the NSS by the recent torrent of attacks on secularism by Baroness Warsi and assorted clerics, columnists and politicos. Last year I was revolted by the Pope's poisonous and mendacious claim that nazi Germany was the result of atheism."

Michael, Scottish Borders

"We should not label our children as Christian, Muslim or any other religious group. So big NO to faith schools."

Asif, London

I discovered the NSS shortly after I began studying Politics in the Sixth Form, whilst researching pressure groups. I found the concept of secularism particularly interesting as i've always held similar beliefs and so I have decided to join to promote the cause of religious freedom and equality.

Edward, Wiltshire

"To me it seems self-evident that the state should take no role whatsoever in promoting any particular faith in any sphere of public life. The NSS seems to me to be one of the strongest and most effective groups working to raise public awareness, overcoming peoples' inertia and lack of information."

Stipo, London

"Secularism gives us a fair and inclusive society where everyone has an equal voice as part of democracy, and no one group is given more weight and importance over another. I do hope in my lifetime I see Britain become a truly secular nation."

Kenneth, via Facebook

It is clear that on many secular issues, atheists and many theists have common interests, and by working together on these issues our voices will be louder... While I am personally no longer religious, I absolutely support people's right to religious freedom.

Tim, Cheltenham

As I see it, the NSS is the only organization fighting religious privilege on a daily, systematic basis. The NSS acts as a vital counterbalance to the minister of "faith", whatever that is, in the government and the alarmingly large number of MPs who campaign on behalf of religious groups, not to mention the 26 bishops in the Lords. The NSS represents the views of the rational majority against the deluded but sinister and powerful minority.

Tony, Hampshire

"It was good to see tangible results from the NSS in the form of the High Court ruling on council meeting prayers."

Alex, Surrey

"I joined the NSS because after working in schools for over a decade I'm constantly baffled by the requirement for an act of collective worship to be held in schools, and by the teaching of RE with its heavy Christian bias and constant visits by people with a religious agenda. This is so unnecessary - in the 21st we should move on."

Alex, Somerset

"Religious belief, or the lack of it, should have as much place in the formulation of government policy as ducking stools and witchcraft."

Tim, Norfolk

'Generally speaking I am a realist rather than an idealist. That in the 21st Century supernatural beliefs still have a significant influence in matters of State is 'unreal'. The valuable work of the NSS must be supported.'

Fi, Hampshire

"David Cameron's 'Big Society' appears to be pushing towards a greater role for religion-based organisations instead of connecting with all people."

Karen, Northamptonshire

My motivations for joining the Society are manifold and include the horrible feeling I get when I see and read about so-called faith schools, bishops in the House of Lords, and any situation where the pious are given more respect or airtime than other minority groups (e.g. Pagans, Airfix modellers, or national knitting circles). I am particularly nauseated by religious intolerance towards women and minorities, and the fact that people holding discriminatory views on religious grounds remain influential.

Paul, Huddersfield

"Religious views should not be impressed upon others... We should not have religion involved in dictating law, meddling in politics and education."

Pauline, Banbury

As far as I'm concerned people should be free to worship and adore whichever deity they like, but let that be their choice and theirs alone. The NSS is important because there are too few organisations in this country that can act as a voice for secularists and make a difference, especially when disproportionately influential groups with the support of their friends in high places continue to try to impose their brand of religious dogma on people like me.

Diane, Chester

"The NSS is Britain's front line defence against the vested interests of organised religion that damage our public institutions, not least in education and local government."

Clive, Bideford