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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 13 December 2019


Since we were founded in 1866 we've seen 35 governments come and go. In that time we've led the way in promoting freedom, fairness and human rights in the face of religious attempts to undermine them.

However you voted yesterday, the new government brings challenges and opportunities. Religious groups will be looking for chances to lobby for special privileges in our schools, in their relationship with the state, in our laws and in restricting free speech.

And we will be there to resist them. If you think that's a worthwhile task, you want to see the cause of secularism advanced and you're not already one of our members, you can join the NSS now. Thank you for your support.


News & Opinion


Medical regulators shouldn’t let doctors push religion on patients

The General Medical Council has decided not to pursue a case against a GP who was accused of pushing religion on a vulnerable patient. Stephen Evans warns against allowing this exploitative behaviour.


NSS: religion shouldn’t restrict access to abortion in NI

The NSS has urged the UK government not to allow religion to limit women's access to abortions in Northern Ireland.


NSS criticises BBC video promoting Operation Christmas Child

The NSS has said a BBC video on the Operation Christmas Child shoebox scheme acted as "propaganda for fundamentalist Christianity".


NSS to address legacy of 1944 Education Act in lecture

The NSS is to consider the impact of the law which brought hundreds of faith schools into the state sector in a lecture in February.


Other news: UK

A bid for Sikhs to be included as an ethnic group in the UK census has been rejected by a High Court judge.

A church praised by politicians for its work to tackle knife crime is at the centre of "sickening" allegations that some of its pastors pressured young people from the congregation to sell their own blood for money to donate to the church.


International news

Forty-seven men went on trial in Nigeria on Wednesday for public displays of affection with members of the same sex, an offence that carries a 10-year jail term in the country.

A former university lecturer's trial for blasphemy has entered its final stages in Pakistan – and he could face the death penalty.

Indian lawmakers have approved legislation granting citizenship to migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – but not if they are Muslim. Two people have died in clashes over the law in the northeastern state of Assam.

Keep up with all the latest news and views on secularism by subscribing to our daily media briefing.


Upcoming events

Our upcoming events include a talk on the 1944 Education Act and its legacy and an event for educators on our Exploring Secularism resources in 2020.

Find out more on our events page.


Essays of the week: the election campaign & religious minorities

The campaigns trying to turn British Indians against each other
By Sunny Hundal, for openDemocracy

This election is turning Britain's minority religious communities against each other – and the tensions could reverberate for years.


After the worst election campaign in memory, Britain's religious minorities must unite
By Sunny Hundal, for the New Statesman

The manner in which faith groups have been set against each other is unprecedented and dangerous.


Essay of the week: blasphemy

Britain's blasphemy problem
By Charlotte Littlewood, for The Article

Britain needs to confront the question of blasphemy, and fast.


NSS speaks out

Our response to the GMC's decision not to take its case against Dr Richard Scott further (referenced in our CEO Stephen Evans's blog above) was quoted in Kent Online.

Stephen also discussed the case on BBC Radio Kent and BBC South East Today.


Quote of the week

"There are plenty of choices available out there for those who believe Christmas and comedy don't mix."
Stacey Dennis, whose company has produced humorous Christmas cards which some Christians on social media have objected to


In your own words: scrap the bishops’ bench

"Allowing representatives of one denomination of one religion an automatic place in the undemocratic House of Lords is one of its most unappealing features."
Anabel, Glasgow

Sign one of our petitions to let us know why you support our campaigning. We aim to feature some of the best comments in Newsline.


Read elsewhere


Why some people are being put off food banks

By Maddy Power & Katie Pybus, for The Conversation

A failure to discuss the religious identity of Trussell Trust food banks and the religious affiliation of clients disregards a key element of food banking in the UK.


The chilling stories from inside China’s Muslim internment camps

By Harald Maass, for The Spectator

More than a million have been detained with the official aim of eradicating 'the virus in their thinking'.


“God has a new Africa”: undercover in a US-led anti-LGBT movement

By Rita Nketiah, for openDemocracy

A reflection on an undercover trip to a summit organised by the World Congress of Families, an international network led by US and Russian ultra-conservatives which has strong religious links.


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