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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 21 February 2020


This week we have commentary on a proposed definition of 'Islamophobia' and religious groups which proselytise while providing public services.

We're also resisting proposals to extend religious discrimination in school admissions in Renfrewshire in western Scotland. We respond to a court ruling on religious marriage. And we have video of our recent lecture on the legacy of the 1944 Education Act.

Our work relies on the support of our members, so if you support it please consider joining us. Thank you.


News & Opinion


Don’t let religious advocates define the boundaries of acceptable thought

A BBC debate on defining 'Islamophobia' was a reminder of the risks of giving too much ground to religious identity politics and empowering 'community groups' to police public discussion, says Chris Sloggett.


Faith groups should practice without preaching when helping the vulnerable

As a report shows some religious groups are helping survivors of modern slavery without proselytising, Megan Manson says public sector bodies must ensure all organisations that provide services adopt similar policies.


NSS: council wrong over baptism certificates in school admissions

Renfrewshire Council plans to extend the priority given to children who are baptised Catholic for admission to Catholic schools.


Islamic marriage invalid under English law, court rules

A ruling that a Muslim 'marriage' was void rather than a non-marriage has been overturned at the Court of Appeal.


Watch: 1944 Education Act lecture


The 1944 Education Act and its legacy

Keith Sharpe, the chair of our Secular Education Forum, reflects on the act of parliament that gave churches substantial control over the education system in England and Wales.


Illegal Jewish schools hold council to ransom over child safety

Jewish leaders running illegal 'schools' in north London asked Hackney Council to exempt them from the national curriculum in return for agreeing to a safeguarding framework, it's been revealed. The council has said its efforts to keep children safe were "frustrated" as a result.

The NSS campaigns to protect the rights of all children to a proper education, and has played a crucial role in exposing the scandal of unregistered faith schools.


Other news

A group of rabbis has said Charedi Jewish schools shouldn't discuss LGBT "matters" with pupils. The NSS has said the government mustn't back down in the face of this defiance.

A Swiss court has ruled that Jägermeister may expand its trademark because its logo isn't offensive to Christians. The NSS has said the ruling misses the point.

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


Essays of the week

I loosened my hijab at a chess championship. Now I'm afraid to return to Iran
By Shohreh Bayat, for The Washington Post

I had no idea how the decision to wear a hijab loose while I was at a chess tournament would change my life.


A challenge to the separation of schools in NI
By Matt Milliken and Stephen Roulston, for Slugger O'Toole

Religious interests cannot be allowed to continue to block movement towards a truly shared future in Northern Ireland's schools.


Exploring Secularism training day & other events

On Saturday 9 May we're hosting the first training day on our Exploring Secularism resources for educators. The day is free - but you must book in advance to attend.

You can also read about our other upcoming events on our website.


Quote of the week

"It's not only me. I am just one of millions of women in Iran… We are all sending this message to the government, to the authorities, that I don't want to wear hijab but I am wearing it because I have to."
Shohreh Bayat, who fears returning to Iran after wearing a loose hijab at a chess tournament abroad


Read elsewhere


How Hindu supremacists are tearing India apart

By Samanth Subramanian, for The Guardian

For seven decades, India has been held together by its constitution, which promises equality to all. But Narendra Modi's BJP is remaking the nation into one where some people count as more Indian than others.


NSS speaks out

Our opposition to Renfrewshire Council's plans to extend religious discrimination in school admissions was featured in the Daily Record.


Sign our petitions

If you want to let us know why you support a secularist cause, why not sign one of our petitions? We aim to feature the best comments in Newsline.


Support our work

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