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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 26 April 2019


On Sunday hundreds of innocent people were targeted and slaughtered in the apparently Islamist attack in Sri Lanka.

The terrorists targeted Christians who were in church on Easter Sunday and tourists who were in hotels. They reminded us that the task of standing up to religious intolerance, fundamentalism and violence should unite people of all faiths and none.

We argue that secularism – which seeks to balance everyone's rights and treat them fairly and equally regardless of their religious identities or beliefs – provides the best framework for taking up this task.

We'll explore this more on Saturday 18 May, when we hold our Secularism 2019 conference on 'reclaiming religious freedom' at The Tower Hotel in central London. If you haven't yet got your ticket, you can buy it now. And if you support our aims, you might consider joining or donating to the NSS today. Thank you for your support.


News & Opinion


Britain needs to stand up for everyone’s religious freedom

The appalling attacks in Sri Lanka again highlight the growing global persecution of Christians. But there should be no hierarchy of importance when it comes to protecting people from persecution, argues Stephen Evans.


NSS signs major letter against new fully selective faith schools

Public figures and campaigners including the NSS have urged the government not to fund a new wave of religiously selective faith schools.


NSS refers Islamic charities promoting extremism to regulator

Islamic charities have linked to content endorsing marital rape and execution for homosexuality and 'apostasy', the NSS has found.


Council ends church officials’ education committee voting rights

A council in eastern Scotland will withdraw voting rights from unelected church representatives who sit on its education committees.


University revokes sultan of Brunei’s degree after NSS request

The NSS has welcomed a university's revocation of a degree from the sultan of Brunei after his country introduced draconian Islamic laws.


Jewish charity trustees accused of money laundering

The NSS has called for scrutiny into charities in insular religious communities following alleged money laundering involving Jewish charities.


Teacher's perspective: non-Catholics need not apply

When Rachel applied for a teaching position at a state funded faith school, she found that non-Catholics weren't welcome to apply. Although such discrimination may be legal, she says it isn't necessarily moral.


Other news

A damning report from a cross-party committee of MPs has said ministers must act urgently to address human rights breaches faced by women in Northern Ireland who seek abortions.

The chairman of Poland's ruling party has called the LGBT rights movement a foreign import that threatens the Polish nation and said questioning Poland's powerful Roman Catholic Church is unpatriotic.

Dozens of members of parliament from 14 European countries have called for an urgent investigation into who is bankrolling US Christian right groups that have spent at least $50m in Europe.

The Football Association is to end the tradition of awarding a case of champagne to the FA Cup winners, partly out of respect for some players' religious beliefs.

New Jersey is now the eighth US state to allow terminally ill residents to end their lives with medical help after the state's governor signed a bill into law.


Read elsewhere


The girls of Bessborough

By Deirdre Finnerty, for the BBC

An in-depth look at the treatment of unmarried girls and women at a mother and baby home in Ireland.


The anti-gay Christian right campaigner behind America's fiercely strict abortion bans

By Jessica Glenza, for The Guardian

Janet Porter had one of the biggest victories of her career when the strictest anti-abortion law in the US passed in Ohio, in the latest step in a broader fight which she is taking global.


'My son killed himself after circumcision'

By Caroline Lowbridge, for the BBC

A 23-year-old man committed suicide after being circumcised, which he regarded as a "catastrophe".


Buy your tickets: Secularism 2019

There are just three weeks to go until our Secularism 2019 conference at The Tower Hotel in London on Saturday 18 May. You can buy your tickets now.


The chair of our Secular Medical Forum Dr Antony Lempert will address a conference on children's bodily integrity at the University of Leeds tomorrow. The conference starts today.

See all upcoming events.


Essays of the week

While standing as a European election candidate I've been accused of Islamophobia – it's a smear campaign
By Nora Mulready, for The Independent

Nora Mulready says one of the great failings of politics recently has been the lack of moderate, good-faith, humane voices in debates about difficult issues.


The culture war over 'LGBT lessons' is based on distortion. Here are the facts
By Janeen Hayat, for The Guardian

Public perceptions of relationships education are plagued by exaggeration and myth, and we need to reframe this debate.


Quotes of the week

"No doctor or religious cleric should cut off a natural part of another's body without the explicit consent of the person that it will matter to most. If you grow up and you want to be circumcised as an adult, you should have that choice. Maybe you will find it easier to clean or more visually appealing, but that's your prerogative. Not that of someone else."
Lee Suckling, lifestyle columnist for NZ Herald, on circumcision


"In order to have true religious freedom in Australia, we must pursue secular policy. Secularism is not anti-religious; it simply ensures that no one is unduly persecuted or privileged because of their beliefs. It promotes equal rights and representation for people of all religions, and for people of no religion, in the public square."
Peter Monk, president of Australian campaigning group National Secular Lobby


Petition comment of the week: against religious discrimination in school admissions

"When looking for a secondary school for our child, our nearest option is a Catholic school which is well known for rejecting anyone who isn't Catholic. This means we either have to send our son to a school with a poor standard of education, or travel miles to another town for him to find another school. Why should he be discriminated against and rejected from his local area because we, his parents, are not religious?"
Gabby, Surrey

Sign the petition and tell us why you want to end religious discrimination in school admissions.


Petition comment of the week: end non-stun slaughter

"The religious exemption means the number of animals suffering distress, fear and pain during slaughter is increasing. This is unacceptable in what is supposed to be an advanced and humane society. It degrades us all."
Barbara, Buckinghamshire

Sign the petition and tell us why you want to end religious non-stun slaughter.


NSS speaks out

Our research which found that Muslim charities were linking to material promoting stoning to death was covered in The Sunday Times, with our chief executive Stephen Evans quoted.

Stephen also signed a letter to The Sunday Times opposing a new wave of faith schools which will be allowed to select all their children on a religious basis.

Stephen discussed the need to protect religious freedom on LBC after the terrorist attack in Sri Lanka.

And he was quoted in Asean Economist as we called on British institutions to strip the sultan of Brunei of honours bestowed upon him.

Our communications officer Chris Sloggett was quoted in an article about the rise of secularism in Premier Christianity magazine.


Support our work

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


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