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Newsline 18 November 2016

This week we were delighted with an excellent feature from BBC Two's 'Daily Politics' on our founder Charles Bradlaugh MP – whose portrait bust we recently unveiled in Parliament.

Our honorary associate Dr Evan Harris, the former Liberal Democrat MP, spoke on the programme about both Bradlaugh's life and the Society's work today. The video about the bust can be seen here, with the full clip (including discussion) available here from 48 minutes in.

Bradlaugh faced an immense struggle to take his seat in the House of Commons, and it's wonderful to see him now getting the recognition he deserves with the portrait bust which is now on prominent display in the Palace of Westminster.

If you're not already a member, help us continue Bradlaugh's work by joining the Society today or giving a donation to our 150th anniversary appeal. Any donation, no matter how much it is worth, is gratefully received.

The highlight of our 150th anniversary year has been our conference in September. We heard from some excellent speakers and all of the fascinating talks are now on YouTube.

If you are a member, we look forward to seeing you at our upcoming AGM.

The rise of faith schools will deeply divide our society

The rise of faith schools will deeply divide our society

Our campaigns director Stephen Evans writes for TES on ministers' plans to open the floodgates to new faith schools and more religious discrimination - despite the fact that we live in an increasingly secular and religiously diverse nation.

BBC to increase non-Christian religious broadcasting

BBC to increase non-Christian religious broadcasting

News | Mon, 14 Nov 2016

After criticising itself for devoting too much of its religious broadcasting to Christianity, the BBC is to consider increasing its religious broadcasting to allow more time for minority faiths.

Religious leaders have been invited by BBC director-general Lord Hall to "join discussions about plans for multi-faith coverage," the Times reported.

The Muslim Council of Britain has asked the BBC to consider broadcasting Islamic prayers.

The Times reported that an increase in broadcasting for minority faiths "would not be at the expense of Christian output" suggesting the BBC will move towards an overall increase in religious programming.

A BBC source told the Independent: "The BBC will do more to represent faiths across the board, and has specifically rejected the notion of in any way diminishing what it does around Christianity."

Another BBC source told the Times that "Faith is remarkably important. The BBC can and must do more to ensure that the important role faith plays is recognised and reflected in our programming."

NSS campaigns director Stephen Evans said: "It's not the job of the BBC to promote religion. By ignoring the fact that religious broadcasting is the least popular genre amongst its viewers, the BBC risks alienating the non-religious majority.

"There are numerous niche channels offering round-the-clock religious programming for people that want that sort of thing. There is no need for the BBC to ramp up religious programming that few people are interested in. Increasing the total amount of religious broadcasting will simply mean producing more content that very few people enjoy or watch.

"There is a place for informative and thought-provoking religious programming that reflects the religion and belief demographics in the UK, but simply broadcasting acts of worship or religious messages would be the totally wrong approach."

This week in the press...

The clip from the 'Daily Politics' about the bust can be seen here, with the full feature (including discussion with our honorary associate Dr Evan Harris) available here from 48 minutes in.

In addition to the article by campaigns director Stephen Evans which was published in TES, NSS Council member Sadikur Rahman was quoted in The Economist on how the state should respond to sharia councils.

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