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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 29 June 2018


A damning Ofsted report into a state-funded Jewish school in London gave us another reminder of the ways faith schools fail children and society this week. The report showed that the school was teaching a narrow curriculum, failing to promote tolerance and even deliberately restricting pupils' access to information which would keep them safe.

We'll keep campaigning to mitigate the harms caused by faith schools. But the bigger battle is over their existence as state-funded schools. Putting a moratorium on the opening of new faith schools and rolling back those that currently exist would not just mitigate the damage they cause; it would also give children from various religious backgrounds the chance to learn together and form their own views on religion and belief.

If you think this is a worthwhile cause, please consider supporting and getting involved in our No More Faith Schools campaign. Thank you.


News & Opinion


NSS appeals to ombudsman over judge’s remarks on Islam

The NSS has appealed to the judicial ombudsman over remarks a judge made to the Parsons Green bomber Ahmed Hassan.


Ofsted: Jewish school failing on safety, curriculum and tolerance

Ofsted has deemed a state-funded Jewish school inadequate after finding it deliberately undermined pupils' safety, taught... Read More »


The seal of the confessional and child abuse: a religious privilege too far

Some clerics want exemptions from reporting requirements on abuse when it's revealed in the confessional. Accommodating their... Read More »


NSS renews call for marriage reform after civil partnerships ruling

The NSS has renewed its call for reform of England and Wales's marriage laws after a Supreme Court ruling on civil partnerships.


Mixed-sex schools shouldn’t segregate children, says DfE

Mixed-sex schools in England should not generally separate pupils by sex or faith, the government has said.


A Christian theatre company promoted abstinence in my daughter’s school. It was worth challenging it

A parent says it was important to challenge a school's decision to invite a Christian charity to perform a show with a pro-abstinence... Read More »


US secularist groups condemn travel ban which targets Muslims

Secularist and atheist groups have lined up to condemn a US Supreme Court decision upholding a travel ban which targets Muslims.


Restrictions on religion increasing globally, says Pew report

More than four in ten countries had "high" or "very high" levels of restrictions on religion in 2016, according to a new report.


Latest from the No More Faith Schools campaign


New selective faith school planned for Oldham

A proposed Church of England faith school in Oldham will select 50% of its pupils based on their parents' religion.

The Cranmer... Read More »


Other news

Attempts to make gay people straight could become illegal in Britain under a proposal to be revealed by the government next week. We called on the government to consider banning these therapies last year, so we will monitor the announcement closely.

A terminally-ill man who wants to be helped to die has lost his legal challenge at the Court of Appeal.

A decision to allow women to take abortion pills at home in Wales has been welcomed as a "significant" move.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has examined comments by a retired archbishop who claimed child abuse survivors were motivated by a "pot of gold" and referred to them as "the opposition".

The Isle of Man's Legislative Council has approved a bill to reform its abortion laws, despite opposition from a bishop. The bill will now return to the lower chamber, the House of Keys, for approval.

Glasgow City Council has debated a measure to implement buffer zones around abortion and other health care clinics.

Activists fear Justice Anthony Kennedy's decision to retire from the US Supreme Court could signal a reversal of US abortion laws.

To get all the latest news and views on secularism from the media in your inbox every morning, you can sign up to receive your daily media briefing.


Quotes of the week

"If the state's role is to promote integration and equality, it's counter-intuitive to allow schools which are distinguished by religious faith, whether that is Church in Wales, Roman Catholic or Muslim."
Laura McAllister says the Welsh government has a responsibility to create an inclusive school system


"The British values and equality policy they [Jewish schools] are expected to promote and protect also secure our freedom of religion and safeguard Jewish people as a minority group."
David Davidi-Brown says only fundamentalists need to fear fundamental British values

See our quotes of the week archive...


NMFS comment of the week

"Education should inspire rational thought and display the pleasures of deep understanding; it should not propagate the social poison of divisive dogma."
Peter Atkins, writer and former professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford

Tell us why you're saying No More Faith Schools by signing the petition.


Essays of the week

The church that didn't want to know
Editorial, for The Guardian

A new report on the Church of England's handling of sexual abuse ignores the voices of survivors and appears averse to the reality of past mistakes.


Nationalism and piety dominate Turkey's election
By Resat Kasaba, for The Conversation

For a more inclusive politics to develop in Turkey, the constraints of religious nationalism will have to be broken.


How to kill LGBT marriage equality in the US, one wedding cake and bouquet of flowers at a time
By Tim Teeman, for The Daily Beast

The decision to send a case about flowers for a gay wedding back to Washington state's Supreme Court may be legal process, but it is also part of a wide-ranging assault on marriage equality in the US.


Read elsewhere


How US evangelical organisations deploy ‘human rights’ and ‘development’

By Kevin Crow, for Open Democracy

US- or UN-funded Christian civil society organisations are using international law to further their goals internationally.


Chapman Cohen talk in Leicester

Chapman Cohen (1868-1954) served as president of the National Secular Society for 34 years from 1915 to 1949, a record unlikely to be surpassed. On Sunday 9 September historian Bob Forder will assess Cohen's life, career and legacy at a joint event between the NSS and Leicester Secular Society.

There are more details here and you can book your place here.


Other events coming up

See all Events >


NSS speaks out

Our chief executive Stephen Evans commented on the implications of this week's ruling on heterosexual civil partnerships in the New Statesman.


NSS scholarship: applications welcome

Earlier this year we launched a scholarship to support students who conduct research relevant to secularism and the promotion of human rights.

We've now opened the second round of applications. There's more information here and you can apply here.


Support our work

Please support our work so we can make the case for a fairer secular democracy for all.


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