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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 10 May 2019


There is now just one week to go until our biggest event of the year – Secularism 2019. We're very much looking forward to hearing from our fine line-up of speakers and meeting a selection of our supporters at The Tower Hotel in London next Saturday. You can still get your tickets if you haven't already.

This week a report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has detailed the Church of England's shocking response to the abusive bishop Peter Ball. As our vice-president Richard Scorer argues in the blog below, it's highlighted the need for independent oversight of the C of E's safeguarding processes and mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse.

It's also revealed more than that. For too long those in positions of power have avoided confrontations with the church. Among the most shocking details in the IICSA report is that the prince of Wales – the next supreme governor of the Church of England – actively continued to support Ball even after he had been cautioned by the police. And the inquiry said Ball "sought to use" the relationship with Prince Charles "to further his campaign to return to unrestricted ministry".

Under our current constitutional settlement Prince Charles will, in addition to being the head of state, be the next supreme governor of the Church of England. We think this needs to change. The C of E should be disestablished and the head of state should be secular. If you agree, please consider joining or donating to us. Thank you.


News & Opinion


The C of E can’t be allowed to keep shielding abusers from accountability

A damning report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has highlighted the need for independent oversight of the Church of England's safeguarding procedures and a mandatory reporting law, says Richard Scorer.


NSS intervenes in key European court Religious Education case

The NSS has submitted a third-party intervention to the European Court of Human Rights in a key case concerning RE in schools in Greece.


NSS asks art gallery to review decision to uphold blasphemy code

The NSS has asked an art gallery which covered two paintings up in response to complaints from Muslim visitors to review its decision.


Pope’s latest PR offering on clerical abuse should fool no one

By only obligating officials in the Roman Catholic Church to report cases of clerical abuse internally, the pope's latest decree on child abuse falls a long way short of what is necessary, argues Keith Porteous Wood.


Charity dissolved over imam who encouraged support for Islamic State

A charity set up for the advancement of Islam that used an imam who encouraged support for Islamic State has been dissolved.


Over half of independent schools warned in March were faith schools

Ten independent faith schools were issued government warning notices in March after inspectors deemed them to be failing.


The latest NSS podcast


Simon Barrow: Exploring religious freedom episode 09

Continuing our series of discussions exploring religious freedom, Alastair Lichten spoke with Simon Barrow. Simon is the director of Ekklesia – a Christian think tank focusing on politics, social justice and belief. Simon is a commentator, journalist, publisher, NGO consultant, adult educator/trainer and theologian.


Other news

Head teachers have challenged ministers to deliver better support for schools facing criticism from parents over lessons on same-sex relationships. Meanwhile Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman has said it would be a "huge step backwards" if schools become reluctant to teach the topic and a former leading prosecutor has been drafted in to mediate in an ongoing dispute in Birmingham.

Asia Bibi, who spent years on death row on a blasphemy charge in Pakistan and was hunted by violent mobs for months after her acquittal, has left Pakistan. Her lawyer says she has landed in Canada to be reunited with her daughters.

Downing Street has confirmed the appointments of three new bishops in the Church of England after the queen accepted their nominations. The NSS has said this is a reminder of the absurdity of the C of E's establishment.

Greater Manchester Police is investigating two videos being shared on Facebook of a man pretending to pray to 'Aladdin' in a Muslim prayer room as a hate crime. The force says it has arrested a man on suspicion of inciting racial hatred.

A woman in Poland could face two years in prison for putting up posters with the LGBT+ rainbow on the halos of the Christian virgin Mary and baby Jesus.

Brunei has backtracked on enforcing laws introduced last month that would have made sex between men and adultery punishable by stoning to death.

Iran's intelligence minister has said some converts to Christianity have been "summoned" to explain why they have converted from Islam.

Stay in touch with the latest news and views on secularism in the UK and around the world by signing up to receive your daily media briefing from the NSS.


Read elsewhere


Paedophile priest was called a saint by the establishment and a victim by Prince Charles, who gave him cash after police caught him

By Tom Kelly, for the Daily Mail

Predatory paedophile bishop Peter Ball enjoyed the patronage and protection of the establishment for decades.


Buy your tickets: Secularism 2019

There is only a week to go until our Secularism 2019 conference at The Tower Hotel in London on Saturday 18 May. You can buy your tickets now.


Essay of the week

We're taking religious freedom too far in the US
By Margaret Renkl, for The New York Times

Americans have a right to practice their beliefs, but they don't have the right to discriminate against others or endanger their lives.


Quotes of the week

"Any child protection policy qualified in this way with ring-fencing of religious ritual is bonkers."
Gilo, sexual abuse survivor and campaigner for reform in the Church of England, on the C of E's decision not to require priests to report abuse when they hear about it in the confessional


"I wanted her to know that Lyra and I had a right to be treated as equal citizens in our own country. Surely that's not too much to ask?"
Sara Canning, partner of murdered journalist Lyra McKee, says she urged Theresa May to legalise same-sex marriage in NI


"The psyche that requires the silencing of contrary opinion is not (for all its noise) a robust one: it is actually desperately fragile."
David Aaronovitch, Times columnist, on blasphemy laws and the crushing of dissent


"Far from being a tragic moment in the church's history, sexual abuse and related cover-ups are the fruits of a systemic disorder in the church: toxic clericalism."
Thomas Doyle, a Dominican priest writing in Conscience, a news journal of Catholic opinion


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