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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 19 July 2019


Last night the BBC documentary A Cut Too Far? asked whether male circumcision could be justified. We've long made the case that the non-therapeutic cutting of children's genitals is a violation of the right to grow up in an intact body and to make individual decisions about religion and belief. And today our CEO Stephen Evans has argued that children should be protected from the harm caused by circumcision, regardless of religion, in The Independent.

Meanwhile we're pleased to reveal that Brian Leach, who was sacked from his job at Asda for sharing a Billy Connolly video mocking religion, has been reinstated. This is a victory for common sense.

If you're keen to see us continue to make the case for defending children's rights and freedom of expression against religious impositions, please consider joining or donating to us. Thank you.


News & Opinion


Employee sacked for sharing clip mocking religion is reinstated

A man who was sacked by Asda for sharing a video of the comedian Billy Connolly mocking religion on social media has been reinstated.


NSS urges councillors in Norfolk to scrap prayers before meetings

The NSS has urged councillors in Norfolk to stop holding prayers before meetings after a councillor tabled a motion to remove them.


Why won’t the government condemn the existence of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws?

Ministers keep condemning the "misuse" of Pakistan's blasphemy laws in response to parliamentary questions. But the 'misuse' of indefensible laws isn't the issue – the existence of them is, says Chris Sloggett.


New autism centre opens at Catholic school in Berkshire

The No More Faith Schools campaign has criticised a decision to place a new publicly-funded resource centre for pupils with... Read More »


Pupil's perspective: My Catholic school indoctrinated and shamed its pupils

Our homophobic Catholic school brainwashed young minds into feeling a deep sense of guilt just for being ordinary human beings, says Catherine from County Durham.


NSS writes elsewhere


Male circumcision is a violation of children’s rights

By Stephen Evans, NSS CEO, for Independent Voices

Every child should enjoy the freedom to grow up with an intact body and to make their own choices about permanent bodily modifications.


LGBT-inclusive education latest

MPs have debated relationships and sex education and religious groups' attempts to restrict inclusive teaching in the House of Commons. During the debate schools minister Nick Gibb said more prescriptive guidance forcing primary heads to teach about LGBT relationships would not have prevented protests outside schools in Birmingham.

An episode of BBC Panorama has highlighted the issue and the views of anti-RSE campaigners from a variety of religious backgrounds.

The NSS campaigns for inclusive education about sex and relationships and has played a crucial role in exposing religious groups who have tried to restrict it by protesting and spreading misinformation.


Other news

Harrow Council in north-west London has voted in favour of adopting the definition of Islamophobia proposed by the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims. NSS chief executive Stephen Evans wrote to councillors before the vote to urge them to reject the definition.

A Hindu faith organisation will run a new secondary school and two new primaries in Hertfordshire. The NSS has warned of the risk that religious groups who run nominally non-faith schools may be able to impose a religious ethos on them.

The House of Lords has backed moves to introduce same-sex marriage and abortion reform in Northern Ireland. But meanwhile pro-choice pressure groups have warned against potentially lengthy delays to the extension of abortion rights.

Stay in touch with all the latest news and views on secularism by signing up to receive your daily media briefing from the NSS.


Bradlaugh Lecture 2019: tickets on sale

Andrew Moffat will address the subject 'No Outsiders: reclaiming radical ideas in schools' at our 2019 Bradlaugh Lecture on 7 September in Manchester. Tickets are on sale now.


Read elsewhere


The backlash against sex education in the UK will ultimately harm children

By Ritu Mahendru, for openDemocracy

Sex education helps to protect girls, particularly from south Asian backgrounds, and their interests must be considered in the debate around it.


Essay of the week

Child protection laws are clear – except when it comes to male circumcision
By Ali May, for The Huffington Post

For men who are unhappy with the way their penis looks and feels as a result of being cut in infancy, there is no way back.


Quotes of the week

"Sometimes you have to decide what takes precedence. In so far as any devout person loses a scintilla of their practical observance of their beliefs by having their children taught about different kinds of families, it is a tiny price well worth paying."
David Aaronovitch on anti-LGBT protests outside schools


"Simply put, Charedi children don't know how children are made."
Eli Spitzer, head of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school, objecting to sex education and LGBT-inclusive education


NSS speaks out

Our chief executive Stephen Evans had a letter published in The Sunday Times arguing that the government had been too reluctant to confront religious groups over relationships and sex education.

Our education and schools officer Alastair Lichten discussed religious opposition to LGBT-inclusive RSE on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire radio station.

The chair of our Secular Medical Forum, Dr Antony Lempert, was quoted in the Huffington Post and Jewish News on male circumcision.

Stephen Evans was quoted in the Harrow Times on the local council's proposal to adopt the definition of Islamophobia proposed by the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims. He was also quoted in the Eastern Daily Press and Thetford & Brandon Times on council prayers in Norfolk.

Our vice-president Richard Scorer was quoted in The Church of England Newspaper on child abuse in the C of E.

A letter from Edinburgh Secular Society's Neil Barber highlighting our recent report on religious charities was featured in The Courier and Edinburgh Evening News.


Petition comment of the week: disestablish the Church of England

"A modern democracy neither needs nor benefits from a state religion. The Church of England should relinquish its unjustifiable position of privilege and separate from the state."
Joanne, Lincolnshire

Sign the petition and tell us why church and state should be separate.


Petition comment of the week: endorse the manifesto for change

"The proposals set out in this report are a step in the right direction for a modern society not ruled by religion, nor giving those who hold beliefs preferential treatment, whilst protecting the rights of those who believe and those who do not."
Juliet, Warwickshire

Sign the petition and add your name to our call for a secular democracy.

Alternatively sign one of our other petitions to highlight a secularist cause you care about.


NSS scholarship

The NSS scholarship supports research which makes a significant contribution to the evidence base of our existing campaigns and has the ability to improve understanding of secularism among both academics and the wider public.

Find out more and apply on our research and scholarships page.


Support our work

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


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