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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 6 July 2018


On the eve of this year's Pride in London march we're again reminded of the relationship between secularism and LGBT rights. This week we've been pleased to see the government pledging to crack down on so-called LGBT 'conversion therapies', which are often promoted by religious groups but overwhelmingly rejected by medical evidence.

But we're disappointed that the government has once again shirked the chance to take on faith schools over sex education. As we revealed in May, most faith schools in England and Wales are distorting the subject and in many cases this means they are explicitly promoting anti-LGBT attitudes. We'll keep pressing politicians across the UK on this.

This week has also been National Democracy Week. We've made our support for a secular democracy explicit in our secular charter and Megan Manson's blog below outlines how secularism can play a part in making the UK more democratic. If you believe in a secular democracy, please consider supporting our work. Thank you.


News & Opinion


NSS welcomes plan to restrict LGBT ‘conversion therapy’

The National Secular Society has welcomed a government announcement that it will bring forward proposals to end the practice... Read More »


Seven secularist steps that would strengthen democracy in the UK

In recognition of National Democracy Week 2018, Megan Manson reflects on what still needs to be changed to make the UK a truly democratic, secular state.


Brewery: we took down Saudi flag from pubs to avoid offence

A brewery has told the NSS that it told thousands of pubs to remove Saudi Arabia's flag from World Cup displays to avoid causing offence.


NSS backs home education reform

The NSS has backed a registration scheme and improved guidance for parents and local authorities on elective home education.


NSS backs campaign to save town hall in west London

The NSS has backed a campaign to prevent a town hall in west London from being leased out to a local Hindu temple.


Talk to honour NSS’s longest-serving president in Leicester

The NSS and Leicester Secular Society will hold a talk on the longest-serving president of the NSS, Chapman Cohen, in September.


Eleven inadequate independent faith schools facing closure

Seven Christian and four Islamic schools were among 26 private schools served with warning notices by the DfE in February and March.


Other news

The second phase of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry's hearings into allegations of abuse at children's homes run by the Sisters of Nazareth has drawn to a close.

At a service of celebration in Westminster Abbey Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, quoted the archbishop of Canterbury's view that the NHS was "the most powerful and visible expression of our Christian heritage".

Councillors in Lancashire County Council are due to vote again on plans to stop supplying non-stun meat to schools next week.

An imam who subjected his young pupils to over 100 physical assaults at a mosque in Rochdale has been jailed for 17 months. During sentencing the judge told the defendant: "These young men were expecting to be nurtured in the ways of Islam and the way in which you behaved is in no way acceptable to the ethics of your faith."

A crunch meeting between Ofsted and the umbrella organisation representing Jewish education, PaJeS, has taken place. After the meeting a PaJeS director said he was "delighted that together with Ofsted we have found a way for Jewish schools to be true to their ethos and meet the standards expected by Ofsted".

A council's decision to create a buffer zone outside a London clinic has been upheld in the high court.

Thousands of cases of female genital mutilation have been identified over the past year in England, according to data published on Thursday. Experts say the data shows the need for stronger action to tackle the practice.

Amy Coney Barrett has emerged as a favourite among conservatives to take the vacancy on the US Supreme Court, partly because she is believed to favour 're-arguing' the Roe v Wade decision on abortion. President Trump is expected to announce his nominee on Monday.

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

"It was part of my culture. It was something that I was told was better for the child, cleaner... but as I've got older [I've realised] my cultural views don't make it different to what it actually is."
TV presenter Stacey Solomon expresses her regret at having her son circumcised


"I would assume what Mr Cunningham means isn't just that [Catholic schools] accept children from all faiths but they accept their views. If that was really the case you've got to question what the point in Catholic schools is. Surely that would make them nothing more than a comprehensive school."
John Duncan, vice-chair of the Scottish Secular Society, responds to claims by Glasgow's convener of education, Chris Cunningham, that Catholic schools are "welcoming" and "inclusive" to all


"Dr Singh may be ludicrous but he is also consequential."
David Aaronovitch on India's minister for higher education, who claimed this week that evolution is scientifically wrong


"I'm telling El Al that if you give in to the terrorism of Haredi-hating groups and remove a passenger who behaved properly and asked nicely to sit next to a man, we will remove hundreds of thousands of your passengers every year. Terror against terror."
A sane, balanced reaction to Israeli airline El Al's decision not to ask women to give way to Haredi men from United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler in the Knesset

See our quotes of the week archive...


NMFS comment of the week

"All children deserve equal access to secular, modern education to ensure an educated, progressive citizenry."
Steve from Manchester, No More Faith Schools supporter

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


Essays of the week

Ex-Muslims: A community in protest
By Maryam Namazie, for Sister-hood

Groups such as the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain who are willing to break the apostasy taboo and challenge Islamic homophobia need our solidarity.


The White House is tearing down the wall between church and state
By Susan Jacoby, for the New York Times

Attacks on the wall of separation established by the US's founders are nothing new, but the Trump administration owes a disproportionate political debt to Christian conservatives and is redefining the phrases "religious liberty" and "religious freedom".


A milestone for victims of clerical child sexual abuse
Editorial, for the Sydney Morning Herald

The sentencing of the Catholic archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, is a global landmark in the search for justice by victims of child sexual abuse.


Read elsewhere


The week that shook the church

By Donna Birrell, BBC journalist, on her personal blog

An invitation to the Church of England to take a look at itself following the latest revelations about its cover-up of child sexual abuse.


From the archives: Pride 2018


The greater the religious fervency, the greater the homophobia

On Pride weekend 2017, Keith Porteous Wood highlighted the interconnectedness between the fight for secularism and equality for LGBT+ people.


The gay community should recognise and oppose its chief oppressor

While people of all faiths and none have campaigned for and against LGBT+ rights, the merger of religious and state power has always been the greatest threat to LGBT+ rights around the world and turns bigotry into discrimination, argues Terry Sanderson.


Bradlaugh Lecture 2018

The esteemed human rights activist, author and NSS honorary associate Gita Sahgal will explore the rise of Hindu nationalism in the National Secular Society's 2018 Bradlaugh Lecture.

The lecture takes place in Manchester on 8 September. Tickets are just £10 – and NSS members get a 50% discount. You can buy your tickets now.


Other events coming up

See all Events >


NSS speaks out

Our chief executive Stephen Evans expressed his support for the campaign to save Southall Town Hall in west London in The Hindu.

Our communications officer Chris Sloggett called on Lancashire County Council to press ahead with plans to stop supplying non-stun meat to schools in the Lancashire Post.

Our campaigns officer Megan Manson gave a talk about secularism and the work of the NSS at Chatham Unitarian Church.

Our recent polling on the support for religion in education was covered by Vision Christian Radio in Australia.


Support our work

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


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