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Newsline 12 April 2019

  

News & Opinion

 

NSS urges support for teachers amid anti-LGBT protests and threats

The National Secular Society has urged the government to reconsider a requirement on schools to take pupils' "religious background"... Read More »

 

NSS questions school’s discrimination against non-religious

The NSS has questioned the legality of a school's policy which requires non-religious pupils and teachers to attend Christian services.

 

Strip sultan of Brunei of honours, NSS urges British institutions

The NSS has urged British institutions to strip the sultan of Brunei of honours over his kingdom's use of draconian new punishments.

 

Britain’s non-religious population growing rapidly, figures show

The number of people who say they are non-religious in Great Britain has risen by 46% in seven years, according to official figures.

 

Geoffrey Robertson QC to hand out NSS Secularist of the Year prize

Human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson QC will hand out the Secularist of the Year prize at the NSS's Secularism 2019 conference.

 

Government recommends crematoria be for “all faiths and none”

Government guidance has said crematoria should accommodate the needs of people of "all faiths and none", following NSS recommendations.

 

Faith school advocates place inculcation above education

A school which is being celebrated for unapologetically pushing its evangelical ethos shows the error of expanding faith schools, says Alastair Lichten.

  

The religiously-inspired campaign against LGBT-inclusive education is escalating and spreading. Reports now suggest intolerant parents and campaigners are targeting schools in several cities and towns across England. Teachers are being intimidated and threatened. Several schools have already suspended lessons in response to protests.

We think teachers working to promote equality need support. So this week we've asked the government to outline the steps it's taking to support the teachers affected by the anti-LGBT campaign. We've also asked it to look again at its draft guidance on relationships and sex education to make it clear that religious parents don't have a veto over what gets taught.

You can help us to make this case - please consider using our template letter to write to your MP. Thank you.

  

Write to your MP: protect LGBT-inclusive education

As the movement against LGBT-inclusive education grows in intensity and scope, we're urging supporters to consider writing to their MPs.

You can access our template letter here.

  

Other news

Ofsted has raised concerns about an independent Jewish girls' school that refused to let inspectors speak to pupils during a monitoring visit.

Divorce will be made easier under a shake-up of the law introducing no-fault break-ups, ministers have announced. The group Christian Concern has criticised the plans. The relationship support charity Relate has welcomed them.

The National Union of Students has voted to adopt a definition of 'Islamophobia' which has been recommended by the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims. The NSS, which has previously criticised the definition, has this week criticised the NUS's decision.

Attempts to place draconian restrictions on women's reproductive rights are gaining ground across many US states, with the enthusiastic support of the religious right. Particularly extreme measures have been proposed or passed in Alabama, Ohio and Texas.

Omar al-Bashir, whose Islamist regime ruled Sudan for 30 years, has been removed from power by the country's military.

A measles outbreak, primarily among Orthodox Jewish children, has prompted New York City on Tuesday to declare a public health emergency, requiring unvaccinated people in the affected areas to get the vaccine or face fines.

Indonesia's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a woman whose complaint about the volume of mosque loudspeakers led to an 18-month prison sentence for blasphemy.

The retired pope Benedict XVI has published a letter which blames clerical sex abuse on the "all-out sexual freedom" of the 1960s.

  

NSS podcast: latest episode

Alastair Lichten speaks to Geoffrey Robertson QC, who will present this year's Secularist of the Year award at our Secularism 2019 conference, in the latest episode of our 'Exploring religious freedom' podcast.

Listen to this episode here.

  

Read elsewhere

 

Under Modi, a Hindu nationalist surge has further divided India

By Jeffrey Gettleman, Kai Schultz, Suhasini Raj and Hari Kumar, for the New York Times

The Hindu right has never been more enfranchised at every level of government in India.

 

Will Brunei's anti-LGBT sharia law spread across Southeast Asia?

By Ben Westcott, for CNN

Brunei's new law punishing homosexual sex with death by stoning has sent a wave of fear across the LGBT population in neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia.

 

In Indonesia, LGBT people are viewed as a moral threat – condemned by religion and, increasingly, by law

By Eduard Merigo, for the South China Morning Post

Muslim-majority Indonesia is using a pornography law to target LGBT people, with public humiliation a ritual punishment.

 

China’s hi-tech war on its Muslim minority

By Darren Byler, for The Guardian

Smartphones and the internet gave the Uighurs a sense of their own identity – but now the Chinese state is using technology to strip them of it.

  

Buy your tickets: Secularism 2019

There are just five weeks to go until our Secularism 2019 conference at The Tower Hotel in London on Saturday 18 May. This week we announced that Geoffrey Robertson QC will hand out the Secularist of the Year prize at the conference.

Tickets are selling fast - you can buy yours now.

  

Our upcoming events include a conference on children's bodily integrity, featuring the chair of or Secular Medical Forum Dr Antony Lempert, at the University of Leeds.

See all upcoming events.

  

Essay of the week

Should an institution that presided over child abuse control most of Ireland's schools?
By Niamh Sammon, for The Irish Times

The Catholic Church still has too much power in Ireland.

  

Quotes of the week

"Some of our children have two mummies or two daddies. What we can't say to children that have two mummies is 'sshh... don't talk about your family'."
Andrew Moffat, teacher who promoted lessons about diversity which have met religious resistance

  

"Sometimes they say, 'Yes, I abused that person.' Sometimes, and this is more worrying, 'The name means nothing but I can't say. It could have happened.' They didn't even know how many people they abused."
Diarmuid Martin, the Catholic archbishop of Dublin, on how some priests respond to questions about child abuse

  

Sign the petition – say No More Faith Schools

Schools are for teaching, not preaching. And we should stop dividing our children by their parents' religion. Sign our petition and tell us why you're saying No More Faith Schools.

  

Petition comment of the week: end non-stun slaughter

"Animal slaughter cannot be humane but it is our duty to make it as humane as it ever can be."
Samantha, Lincolnshire

Sign the petition and tell us why you want to end religious non-stun slaughter.

  

NSS speaks out

Our chief executive Stephen Evans was quoted in The Observer as we called on British institutions to distance themselves from Brunei in response to its draconian new laws. Stephen was also quoted in the Daily Mail and Business Insider on the same topic.

Our education and schools office Alastair Lichten was quoted in the Shields Gazette and Cornwall Live over plans to open new faith schools.

Stephen Evans was also quoted in The Times and The Scottish Sun in response to a clergyman's decision to ban relatives from speaking during funerals.

  

Support our work

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

  

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