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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

What Our Members Say

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 have a profound interest in democracy, freedom of expression, inclusivity and equality - all of which are undermined by religious organisations.

Pat, Worcestershire

"Religion should not provide a justification for discrimination, for breaching a person's human rights or for intolerance."

Stephen, Teddington

"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 live in a country where 26 individuals appointed as Bishops by the Church of England have the ability to pass and influence legislation which will directly affect me and my life - for no other reason other than they hold a personal faith in, and work for, the established church - This is unacceptable to me. I live in a world where those with faith believe that somehow the laws which have been crafted in a democratic Parliament can be ignored on the basis of what they believe to be right.

Matt, Ipswich

"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

"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

Although I always believed in the NSS values and meant to join it was David Cameron's recent speech on religion the made me put my money where my mouth is and join. I'm against any sort of religious privilege but as a father of 2 young children the issue that infuriates me the most and what got me into the NSS is faith schools and the denomination admissions criteria and the blindingly obvious discrimination and lack of equality that the government fails to accept.

Bryn, Berkshire

'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

"I thought it was refreshing to hear someone who was voicing my opinions without being offensive or belittling those who have religious beliefs. I'm an atheist myself and I have no problem with others believing whatever they like as long as it doesn't impact upon everyone else. I feel everyone should be treated equally regardless of gender, sexuality, colour, religion, etc and that nobody should have different treatment or rules over anyone else. I find it quite scary that our education and legal system is pandering to religion. Keep up the good work!"

Madeleine, Bushy

"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.

"Now I have a family and one of my kids will be starting school in September, I am concerned what's going to be taught to them. As part of the school selection process, I did check to make sure the school wasn't too religious and indeed focused inequitably towards just Christianity. I have no issues with schools "teaching" religions so long as they teach them all with equal balance. I would not send my children to a religious school as I don't want them to be exposed to evangelical practices when they are so young and impressionable."

Peter, Leeds

"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

"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

"Organised religion has had far too much privilege, power and protection for far too long. Humanity needs to evolve and the continued inclusion of superstitious beliefs in the affairs of state is not helping that process."

Alex, Southsea

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

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 am opposed to faith based schools on principle. The road the government is going down promotes tribalism which is the single greatest threat to our future. There are many other threats but all these can be solved if we work together and not against each other.

Mike, Petersfield

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

"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

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

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

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 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

"As a retired head teacher, I have always been concerned by the requirement of schools to provide a daily act of collective worship. I read about the NSS's campaign to abolish this requirement and decided to add my voice."

Ray, Tyne & Wear