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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 28 June 2019


This week we've been protecting patients' right to access healthcare free from evangelism, by raising concerns about a GP who continues to proselytise to patients despite a warning not to do so.

We're also defending women's reproductive rights, by raising a pharmacist's refusal to give a woman the morning after pill for "personal reasons" with the relevant regulator.

And we're assisting a man who was sacked by Asda for sharing a comic sketch mocking religion.

If you'd like to help us make the case for a fairer, more secular Britain, please consider joining or donating to the NSS today. Thank you for your support.


News & Opinion


GP investigated over repeated proselytism after NSS raises concerns

A medical watchdog is investigating a GP who has proselytised to patients despite a warning not to do so after the NSS raised concerns.


NSS asks regulator to investigate pharmacist’s contraception refusal

The NSS has asked a regulator to investigate an incident in which a pharmacist reportedly refused to serve a woman contraception.


IICSA report is a damning indictment of Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse

The latest Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse report scotches once and for all the idea that Catholic safeguarding has been transformed, says Richard Scorer.


Schools told to take account of pupils’ religious background in RSE

The government will require schools in England to take pupils' "religious background" into account in lessons about relationships and sex.


Asda sacks man for sharing comic sketch mocking religion

The supermarket chain Asda has sacked a man for sharing a sketch of the comedian Billy Connolly mocking religion on social media.


Equality for LGBT people requires a secular head of state

Prince William's comments on supporting his children if they are gay should be treated with much less significance than the fact he is due to lead an established church which obstructs LGBT equality, says Chris Sloggett.


NSS backs home school register to protect child rights

The NSS has backed a registration system for children who do not attend state-funded or registered independent schools.


Other news

A Catholic primary school is campaigning to be become the first faith school to transform to integrated status in Northern Ireland.

Peter Ball, who was jailed for a string of sexual offences against teenagers and young men committed while he was a bishop, has died.

A golf club in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis may lose its lease if it opens on Sundays, despite the fact its members have unanimously voted in favour of opening. The NSS has criticised this as the latest example of Sabbatarians imposing their agenda on people who don't share it on Lewis.

The Court of Appeal has upheld the right of a north London-based housing organisation to cater only to strictly observant Jews.

Hospital bosses have halted High Court litigation and agreed that a teenage Jehovah's Witness should not be treated with blood products against his will.

The British Medical Association and Royal College of General Practitioners will survey their members on assisted dying, in moves welcomed by pro-legalisation campaigners.

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


Read elsewhere


Are Arabs turning their backs on religion?

By Becky Dale, Irene de la Torre Arenas, Clara Guibourg, and Tom de Castella, for the BBC

Arabs are increasingly saying they are no longer religious, according to the largest and most in-depth survey undertaken of the Middle East and North Africa.


Watch: Nick Cohen and Joyce D’Silva at Secularism 2019

The latest two videos from our recent Secularism 2019 conference are now up. You can watch Nick Cohen address religious freedom and free speech and Joyce D'Silva address non-stun slaughter and religious freedom on our YouTube channel now.


NSS president at Bradford Literature Festival

On Saturday 6 July our president Keith Porteous Wood will take part in a discussion on religion, secularism and the public sphere at the Bradford Literature Festival.

Also next week you can join the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and One Law for All for an evening of film, poetry and a panel discussion on LGBT rights, Apostasy and Blasphemy on Thursday.

See all upcoming events.


Essays of the week

Defining 'Islamophobia'
By Maryam Namazie, for sister-hood

Fighting racism by imposing blasphemy codes gives the impression that something is being done against racism. But the promotion of secularism, citizenship, equality and our common humanity irrespective of background and belief are the best ways to fight racism.


Why was a man sacked by Asda for sharing a Billy Connolly clip?
By Hardeep Singh, for The Spectator

Has blasphemy become a sackable offence in modern Britain?


The Trump Justice Department has turned 'religious liberty' into a licence to discriminate
By Michael Stern, for USA Today

The Trump administration's 'religious liberty task force' is a Trojan Horse.


Quote of the week

"Religion is private. Having sex is personal. But freedom to be who you are, under the law of the land, rather than what someone else's private and personal rule book tells you to be, is sacrosanct."
Deborah Orr on sex education and human rights


"We mustn't put together this view that if somebody has a religious objection somehow there can be no debate about it."
Labour MP and NSS honorary associate Angela Eagle defends LGBT-inclusive education in a debate on parental objections


"I do not think that there is any age-appropriate threshold for respect. From the word go children should be taught to respect other people, whoever they are and whatever they are."
Labour MP Richard Burden in the same debate


"You don't want foreskins flapping around the house when you haven't got one yourself."
A bizarre defence of non-therapeutic infant circumcision from TV presenter Vanessa Feltz


Petition comment of the week: end religious non-stun slaughter

"As a former environmental health officer engaged in meat inspection at abattoirs I am used to slaughter with prior stunning which is humane. However, without stunning it is not."
Douglas, West Midlands

Sign the petition and explain why religious non-stun slaughter should end.


NSS speaks out

Our president Keith Porteous Wood discussed the case of the GP being investigated over his repeated proselytism to patients with Nick Ferrari on LBC. His remarks in that interview were quoted at length by the Christian Post.

Our chief executive Stephen Evans appeared on Three Counties Radio, while our role in the case was also highlighted in publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph and Kent Online.

Stephen was also quoted in Pink News, Gay Times and The Freethinker on the case of a magistrate who failed to separate his views on gay adoption from his official duties.

We were also quoted in The Freethinker on Sabbatarianism on the Isle of Lewis.


NSS Bulletin 72: Summer 2019

In the latest edition of our Bulletin we highlight the harm done by charities which exist to promote religion in a major report, summarise our recent Secularism 2019 conference, stand up for education on relationships and sex and do much more.

Read it online now.


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