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National Secular Society

Newsline 29 September 2017

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Every story about religious privilege in the media reminds more people of the undue role religion plays in our public life. This week we've exposed the enforcement of hijab wearing in UK schools; called for the end of state-backed Church services for judges; and condemned LSE Islamic Society's unlawful gender segregation.

And as events in Europe have shown, change is possible. Ireland will hold referenda on women's reproductive rights and the right to free speech on religion. Luxembourg has abolished confessional religious education in schools, and a Belgian federal committee ruled against religious circumcision of infant boys. Please support us as we continue to campaign for secularism.


News & Opinion


NSS calls for end of Anglican judges’ services

The NSS has written to the Justice Secretary to ask him to scrap state-backed Church services which mark the start of the legal year.


Girls forced to wear hijabs in English schools, NSS reveals

Girls in dozens of schools in England are forced to wear hijabs, according to National Secular Society research published in the Sunday Times today.


LSE accepts gender-segregated event was unlawful

LSE has accepted that gender segregation at an Islamic Society dinner was unlawful after an NSS-backed complaint.


‘Religious segregation under one roof' proposed for Isle of Man school

A faith school will co-locate with a non-religious school while retaining a faith-based ethos, in what the NSS has termed "a farce".


Belgian federal committee rules against ritual circumcision

A Belgian federal government committee has ruled against the circumcision of infant boys for reasons other than medical necessity.


Ireland to vote on liberalising abortion and blasphemy laws

Ireland is to hold referenda on changing its laws on abortion and blasphemy next year.


'Life and society' classes to replace religious education in Luxembourg schools

Luxembourg has abolished religious teaching in schools as part of the government's plan to separate church and state.


Labour MPs look at applying Catholic social teaching to public policy

Eight MPs have launched a group calling on their party to "explore and supply" the application of Catholic social teaching to public policy.


Quotes of the week

"What example does segregating by faith or privilege set to our children? And what impact does that have on the decisions and policies of our future leaders?"
Lucy Sherriff, Huffington Post

"We are trying to allow all kids to have fair access to their schools - not promoting one religion over another and kicking the non-Christian kids out of their classroom and promoting that religion… If you want to have religious freedom, you have to have everyone on an even playing field - not the school endorsing one religion."
Tanya Jacob, representative for the Secular Education Network (New Zealand), Newshub


Essays of the week

Most Americans believe religion is no excuse to discriminate against the LGBTQ community
By Rokia Hassanein, communications associate at Americans United for Separation of Church and State

The morality of the faith and faithless
By Amina Lone, trustee of the Henna Foundation and co-director of the Social Action and Research Foundation

Inside an illegal school: I was hit by a spoon or stick daily, former student says
Izzy Posen and Camilla Turner, Telegraph education editor


NSS speaks out

This week our research on schools forcing religious girls to wear the hijab was widely picked up, with NSS spokespeople quoted in the Evening Standard, the Sunday Times, the Mail Online, the Sun and the Bradford Telegraph & Argus.

We were quoted in the Guardian on our call to end the Judges' Service. We were quoted in the Independent on our support for students challenging unlawful gender-segregation by the London School of Economics' Islamic Society. Three important stories broken in the nation media by the NSS, and made possible by our increased research and campaigning capacity. Find out more.

Our executive director Keith Porteous Wood addressed the International Association of Free Thought Congress in Paris, on the topic of clerical child abuse. Keith was also quoted in the Church Times regarding our intervention in the case of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who will now go on trial in France on charges of failing to report known child abuse by a priest in his archdiocese. Cardinal Barbarin denies any wrongdoing and will appear in court in April, alongside six other priests accused of the same.


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