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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 30 August 2019


There's just over a week to go until our third annual Bradlaugh Lecture in Manchester next Saturday. Andrew Moffat, the author of the 'No Outsiders' teaching programme, will address the vicious religious backlash against inclusive education which has been a significant cause of concern for us this year.

We're very much looking forward to welcoming him – and hopefully seeing many of our supporters there. There are a handful of tickets left, so book now to avoid disappointment (if you haven't already).

This week we've been challenging religious privilege on several fronts again. If you think what we do is worthwhile, please consider joining or donating to the NSS. Thank you for your support.


News & Opinion


Religious reps’ influence over education is an affront to democracy

An NSS report has called for an end to religious appointees on council education committees in Scotland. Neil Barber says it's long past time for these positions to go.


NSS asks council in north Wales to separate prayers from meetings

The NSS has asked councillors in Denbighshire to review their practice of holding prayers before meetings.


NSS writes elsewhere


Don’t expect the Church of England to unify the country

Chris Sloggett says asking the archbishop of Canterbury to chair a forum on Brexit is a mistake.

Uncommon Ground Media


Other news

Three Catholic schools in Ireland are to transfer to integrated status. The NSS's No More Faith Schools campaign has welcomed this example of teaching children together, regardless of religious background.

A court in India has sentenced 10 men to life imprisonment for killing a 'low caste' Dalit man who married a 'higher caste' woman. The NSS supports efforts to end caste-based discrimination.

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


Bradlaugh Lecture 2019: time running out to get tickets

There are only a handful of tickets left for next Saturday's Bradlaugh Lecture in Manchester, where Andrew Moffat will address the subject 'No Outsiders: reclaiming radical ideas in schools'.

Don't miss out - buy yours now!


Read elsewhere: NSS quoted


Blasphemy laws are quietly vanishing in liberal democracies

Erasmus blog, for The Economist

Despite the abolition of blasphemy laws, a culture of free speech on religion is failing to take hold. Within this piece NSS chief executive Stephen Evans warns against the tendency to see free speech as a necessary evil rather than a good in its own right.


NSS speaks out

Our chief executive Stephen Evans was quoted in Wales Online on our call for Denbighshire County Council to reconsider its practice of holding prayers before council meetings.


From the archive: the confessional and child abuse


The confessional shouldn’t shield child abuse from reporting

The Australian state of Victoria is set to require the reporting of child abuse, including when revealed in the confessional. In this 2017 piece Keith Porteous Wood said the UK should take note of encouraging developments in Australia.


The seal of the confessional and child abuse: a religious privilege too far

Accommodating clerics' demands for exemptions from reporting requirements would undermine efforts to tackle child abuse, said Richard Scorer in 2018.


NSS in Leicester on Sunday

Our head of education Alastair Lichten will address the need to move towards a secular education system at a Leicester Secular Society (LSS) event this Sunday. Find out more on the LSS website.


Help us campaign: end non-stun slaughter

The Wallonia region of Belgium will introduce a ban on non-stun slaughter of animals from Sunday. We're campaigning for the end of the legal exemption which allows non-stun slaughter for religious reasons in the UK.

You can help us make the case by writing to your MP. Alternatively let us know why you favour an end to non-stun slaughter by signing our petition – and we'll feature the best comments in Newsline.


In your own words: remove religious reps

"These appointments are outdated and undemocratic. Three places on the committee representing a single religious model of human spirituality is not inclusive and no longer reflects our national demographic."
Jacqueline, Moray

Find out more about our campaign to remove religious reps from council education committees in Scotland and sign our petition to explain why you support it.

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


Read elsewhere


Prayers, starvation and rape: Mexico’s ultra-conservative war to ‘cure’ LGBTIQ people

By Carmen Graterol, for openDemocracy

The growing influence of reactionary religious groups in Mexico is helping to drive a resurgence in 'conversion therapy'.


The Jehovah’s Witnesses want the US Supreme Court to help them cover up sexual abuse

By Hemant Mehta, for Friendly Atheist (Patheos)

The organisation that oversees the Jehovah's Witnesses is currently embroiled in a major legal battle in the US that involves child molestation, religious secrecy, and (possibly) the Supreme Court.


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