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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 3 November 2017


A crucial part of our work involves shining a spotlight on the ways in which religious groups – particularly those involved in running faith schools – take advantage of society's overly deferential attitude to religion to bypass generally-accepted rules. This week we highlighted the appalling official policies at a state-funded Jewish primary school in Barnet. Refusing to discuss evolution or allow ordinary social interaction between men and women is damaging to children and an affront to the taxpayers who fund these schools.

We thank you for your continued support as we expose and resist intolerance and proselytism in schools and push the case for secularism.


News & Opinion


NSS urges clampdown on creationist faith school

The National Secular Society has urged the Government to investigate a Jewish faith school that insists the universe is 5778 years old and forbids any discussion of "personal relationships".


Thought for the Day “inappropriate”, says John Humphrys

The most senior presenter of Radio 4's Today programme has called Thought for the Day "inappropriate" and "deeply, deeply boring".


Lords committee proposals would hand bishops more power

Newly-published proposals to reform the House of Lords would see Church of England bishops given more power.


Charity Commission to investigate Hindu group over ‘extremist’ speaker

The Charity Commission is to investigate a Hindu organisation after it invited a controversial Hindu nationalist to a House of Commons event.


Muslim advocacy group accused of promoting Islamism

A Muslim advocacy group which works closely with police forces, politicians and councils has been accused of promoting Islamist views.


Former Archbishop of Canterbury criticises Church establishment

Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has appeared to agree in principle with disestablishing the Church of England.


Read elsewhere


How ‘Hindutva’ recast multi-faith India as the Hindu homeland

By Ariel Sophia Bardi, for Aeon

Britain no longer dominates India. But for supporters of Hindu nationalism, the country's prime antagonists are still non-Hindu Indians - chiefly Muslims.


Quote of the week

"When you're presenting it, how many times have you said to yourself, 'Dear God, we've got to cut a really fascinating programme short because we're now going to hear somebody tell us that Jesus was really nice, and the world could be a better place if we all…' You know… Oh God."
John Humphrys reveals his frustrations about Thought for the Day

"Make no mistake, the instances of sexual abuse and harassment within the church are manifold – at virtually every level of the hierarchy."
Jayne Ozanne, a senior member of the C of E synod

"This ban is not indicative of Islamophobia, nor is it disrespectful to those of Muslim (or indeed Jewish) belief. It is intended to improve animal welfare standards, which are shockingly poor in both the UK and many other countries."
Masuma Rahim, clinical psychologist, on Lancashire Council's non-stunned halal ban


Essays of the week

In Praise of Blasphemy
By Vikram Zutshi, for Fair Observer

Often the most powerful art comes from minds that dare to question the status quo and tear down shibboleths, often at great personal and professional cost.

Beatings, death threats and rejection: Woman tells of harrowing life as lesbian Muslim in Pakistan
By Natasha Salmon, for The Independent

A woman has bravely revealed what it is like to be a Muslim lesbian after moving from Pakistan to the UK.


NSS speaks out

After Lancashire County Council decided to ban un-stunned halal meat in school dinners we were quoted by the BBC, Telegraph, Mail and Express. Our campaigns director Stephen Evans appeared on BBC Three Counties and Talk Radio, and campaigns officer Alastair Lichten went on the JVS Show on BBC Three Counties.

Our research on Beis Yaakov primary school was reported in TES and Conatus News. Our executive director Keith Porteous Wood discussed reforming Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4's PM (begins after 44:40) and BBC Radio Wales.

And Stephen Evans was quoted in the Sunday Times about the fallout from the recent court ruling on gender segregation in an Islamic school.


Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of the National Secular Society will be held on Saturday 25 November 2017 in the Main Hall at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4RL at 1:30 p.m. Registration will start at 1:00 p.m. Please arrive promptly. Tea, coffee and soft drinks will be available before the meeting.

The meeting is open to paid-up members and affiliated group representatives only. Only one representative of each affiliated group will be admitted, and they will be able to cast a vote on its behalf if they bring an authorising letter from their organisation. Your Council hopes that as many members as possible will come to participate in the meeting and have the opportunity to meet the Council, staff and other members. We particularly welcome those who have not been to an AGM before.


Research participants wanted

Have you requested medical documents from a healthcare professional intending to use them in the process of an assisted death abroad?

Dr Paul Teed is an A&E doctor, and member of Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD). He is currently researching the experience of people who talk to their doctor to request access to their medical records, (whether or not they disclose that the reason for the request is to enable an assisted death in Switzerland). Paul needs to talk to people who have made this request of their doctors, and to doctors who have received such requests. More details about the research can be found at If you have relevant experience, and are able and willing to help with this important research, please contact Paul anonymously through the research website or on 0117 928 7390.
The National Secular Society is assisting Paul in this way as we value and encourage academic research into the issues surrounding assisted dying.


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