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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

What Our Members Say

When I studied law and politics at A-level then law at Newcastle University, I learnt of all the privileges given to religion which I strongly oppose. My main motivation for joining the NSS was to show my support and help raise awareness to the issues of inequality and unjust privileges religious institutes receive. As a law student one of my main interests is in a secular legislature that produces legislation founded in equality and does not legislate to protect special interests of religion in society and especially not ill-founded religious opinions into law.

Matthew, South Shields

"The exposure of the redacting of exam questions and the scandal of gender separation at British Universities finally convinced me to give support to the NSS which is standing up for rationalism, fair treatment and civilised behaviour. Thankfully there is at least one organisation unafraid to stick its head above the parapet and expose the hypocrites, religious zealots and feeble-minded apologists that seem somehow to have joined the mainstream."

Jonathan

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

"The Pope's attitude to secularists and atheists prompted me to join NSS. We are not all aggressive or militant. We just want justice and fairness."

Gemma, Worcester

"I have come to appreciate that the NSS is often a lone voice of rationality in the wilderness that is dominated by religious dogma, bigotry and political manipulation."

David, Shropshire

"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

"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

"It worries me that certain faith groups feel they can impose their views - on matters such as abortion, contraception and assisted suicide - onto others."

Sarah, Horsham

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

Brendan, Lisburn, Co. Antrim

"The general attitude of hostility towards secularism which is widely equated with being a 'militant' finally convinced me that the time had come to be a more active supporter of the cause."

Karen, Peterborough

"My main motivation to join the NSS is to support the opposition to 'faith' schools, a highly divisive policy which seems to be supported by the majority of politicians from both the coalition and the Labour Party. We need a secular education system."

John, Tyne & Wear

I chose a non-denominational school for my son and yet he still has to take part in daily collective worship including singing hymns. A theatre group called "Open the Book" entertain his class once a week with stories from the Bible. This is in addition to an RE class every week. I believe religion should be taken out of schools altogether and the hours currently spent on trying to instil Christian beliefs into our children given over to other aspects of the curriculum which will better ready them for adult life. What can I do to help this happen? I don't want to exclude him from anything his classmates are involved in as I feel this would just make him the odd-one-out.

Nicolle, London

"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

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

"In our multi-faith society, secular values are for me more relevant than ever."

Anne, Bradford

The only way I can see to build a tolerant and cohesive society is to have a secular state free from religion. It should work for and protect every one of its citizens whatever their beliefs.

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

"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.

Seeing how religious minorities, atheists and apostates are often routinely treated in theocratic countries is sickening. Every human being should have the right to their own thoughts, their own beliefs and their own religious choices. Provided that they do not impinge on other people's rights, people should be free to express their religious beliefs.

Tim, Gloucestershire

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

"I have long resented the special privileges given to religion in our society. However, apart from arguing my point, I have pretty much remained in the shadows; it was the Prime Minister's speech (on the UK being a "Christian Nation") which made me realise that I need to be counted and I should put my money where my mouth is."

Marcus, Milford Haven

"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

"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

"For them to deny access to some parts of that knowledge (redacting of exam questions on evolution by a faith school) purely for personal reasons is an inexcusable dereliction of their duty as educators. I was therefore very pleased to hear a later report that Ofqual had investigated the issue and made a definitive ruling in favour of children's education. When I later heard of the key role NSS played in this positive outcome, I felt it necessary to show my support for the great work you're doing. I feel proud to know that my membership money will now go towards future successes like the one mentioned above in the ongoing fight for a fair and secular future for us all."

Luke

When I first joined I was motivated really by my atheism. Since that time however I have come to see the NSS as an organisation with a much broader and balanced agenda that I can subscribe to with enthusiasm. The removal of privileges from religion in all aspects of our lives has become very important to me. I have been enormously impressed by the way the organisation has carried out its aims - with courtesy, integrity and fortitude. I am delighted to be a member.

John, Norfolk