As children in Scotland have returned to school this week, we've been advocating long-overdue change in religious influence over their education. The law currently
requires local councils to appoint three religious representatives on their education committees – and our report Religious Reps: unrepresentative, unnecessary and
unjustified has made the case for changing that.
We're sending the report to members of the Scottish parliament and councillors across Scotland. MSPs have the power to change the law and revoke religious
representatives' right to sit on the committees, which would be by far the best and most democratic solution. But in the meantime councillors can limit the
representatives' power by revoking their voting privileges. One council (Perth and Kinross) has already done this – and eight others have told us they're at least
willing to consider it.
Meanwhile this week we've also convinced a public health body to stop encouraging parents to seek advice from "faith leaders" over vaccinations, and we're urging
the government to rethink concerning stances on blasphemy laws and civil partnerships.
We'll keep making the case for a separation of religion and state, in all areas of policy and throughout the UK. If you think this sounds worthwhile, please
consider supporting our work. Thank you.
On the 200th anniversary of Peterloo, read Bob Forder highlighting the close links between the campaign for church-state separation and the push for a
democratic society in the 19th century and beyond.
Help us campaign: remove religious reps
Scottish law requires council education committees to include three religious appointees.
You can read more about why we're campaigning to
change this and how you can help us make the case.
Children have been turned away from Catholic schools in Scotland this term because children from Catholic families get first preference, according to
The Times. In
response the NSS has said no child should be rejected
from school because of their parents' religion.
A man plans to
challenge a ruling that the evangelical Christian owners of a bakery had a right to refuse to bake a cake with pro-gay marriage message at the
European Court of Human Rights.
We gained coverage in The Times three times this week.
Our report on religious representatives on council education committees in Scotland was given a substantial
billing. Our education campaigner Alastair Lichten called on the Scottish government to remove the positions and on councillors to restrict the
representatives' voting privileges.
Our work convincing Public Health England to change its vaccination advice was reported, with our CEO
Stephen Evans welcoming the change.
And our spokesperson Chris Sloggett commented on the
University of St Andrews's decision to accept a grant to teach a course entitled 'science-based theology'. He said universities should be wary of accepting money
from groups who promote a pro-religious agenda.
Elsewhere our campaigns officer Megan Manson discussed restrictions on face veils on the radio station Voice of Islam. She criticised bans in public places, but
added that public institutions should have the right to impose restrictions and said it was reasonable to have serious concerns over the link between face veils
and female subjugation.
Lawyer Richard Scorer, who is also one of our vice-presidents, was quoted on child abuse in the Church of England in Church Times.
Chris Sloggett spoke to NSS chief executive Stephen Evans and campaigns officer Megan Manson about the ethics of ritual infant male circumcision. Also in
this episode our head of education Alastair Lichten spoke with Andrew Moffat, creator of the inclusive education resource 'No Outsiders' and speaker at the
NSS's upcoming Bradlaugh Lecture.
RE: tell us your views
How should teaching about religion & belief be secularised? We're seeking the views of our supporters, RE professionals and the public to inform our campaigning
on RE. You can let us know what
you think until Monday at midday.
A spectacular level of disinformation has been disseminated about the government's counter-terrorism programme.
Quotes of the week
"The evil of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy would have gone unexposed had it not been for secular agencies... This should have induced the church to show
profound gratitude and humility towards the media."
Editorial in The
Tablet on the archbishop of Westminster's attempts to silence criticism of the Catholic Church's handling of abuse
"Religion should be confined to the church, synagogue, mosque or temple. It has no place in running a modern school." GP Taylor,
best-selling author and a former parish priest, on faith schools
In your own words: end compulsory worship in schools
"As a former teacher who sometimes took school assembly, I avoided doing the act of worship because I did not want to indoctrinate anyone, least of all small
children. Technically breaking the law? Yes. Any regrets? No."
Julie, Greater Manchester