Newsline 17 November 2017
Over the next two weeks, secularists have a chance to dent religion's privileged position in England's schools. The Commission on Religious Education is consulting on its interim report until 9:00am on 4th December. In his blog below our campaigns director explains what we will be recommending. We believe children should be raised to treat religious ideas like any other. If you agree with us, please make your voice heard by contributing to the consultation.
News & Opinion
Necessary reforms of religious education are being frustrated by religion's lingering influence. It's time to liberate RE from the vested interests, argues Stephen Evans.
The NSS has written to the Government about a group of academies with a religious ethos which are not classified as faith schools.
The Government is considering introducing labelling requirements to show whether halal or kosher meat has been stunned before slaughter.
A new civil service post may be intended to promote 'inclusion'. But insistently bringing religion into the workplace will promote it and encourage an assertive form of selfishness at public expense, says Chris Sloggett.
Four of Northern Ireland's 11 councils hear prayers before their monthly meetings, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
The myth of a culture war on Christmas may be comical and its claims endlessly debunked, but its promotion is part of a campaign for Christian supremacy, argues Alastair Lichten.
Interfaith Week is underway. Megan Manson says interfaith dialogue must embrace secularist principles to remain relevant, effective and inclusive.
NSS writes elsewhere
By Stephen Evans, NSS campaigns director, for Huffington Post
After the row over Greggs's advert which placed a sausage roll in the nativity scene, it is alarming that a minority of Christians seem to want to ape Islamic fundamentalists and demand the kind of 'respect' for their religion that Islam enjoys.
Quote of the week
"Perhaps for some equality is experienced as a loss, a taken-for-granted traditional experience of privilege that is now threatened."
Councillor John Barry, who proposed a motion to replace council prayers in Ards and North Down in Northern Ireland, reflects on the motion being defeated
"Whenever I hear some bigmouth in Washington or the Christian heartland banging on about the evils of sodomy or whatever, I mentally enter his name in my notebook and contentedly set my watch. Sooner rather than later, he will be discovered down on his weary and well-worn old knees in some dreary motel or latrine, with an expired Visa card, having tried to pay well over the odds to be peed upon by some Apache transvestite."
The late Christopher Hitchens predicts the Roy Moore scandal from beyond the grave, in an extract shared by his friend Nick Cohen this week
Essays of the week
Australia's marriage equality survey is won, but the battle against discrimination continues
By Timothy Jones, for The Conversation
The polls are in and Australians have signalled their strong support for same-sex marriage. But it is increasingly clear that conservatives arguing for 'protections' want to significantly extend the capacity of religious organisations and individuals to discriminate against others.
Rethinking the challenge of anti-Muslim bigotry
By Kenan Malik, for Pandemonium
The Runnymede Trust has published a new report on 'Islamophobia'. This term frames anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry in a way that compounds, rather than alleviates, the problems facing Muslims. Tackling bigotry against Muslims requires us to remake the framework within which Islam, and Muslims, are viewed from both sides of the debate.
Those who denounce Prevent as 'Islamophobic' are themselves dangerous
By Steve Lancashire, for TES
If we fail to tackle extremism when we encounter it, then we fail our children and their communities, writes the CEO of a large multi-academy trust.
NSS speaks out
Our executive director Keith Porteous Wood discussed the row over Greggs depicting a sausage roll in the nativity scene on LBC, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Three Counties Radio. You can listen to him on the JVS Show, on Three Counties (he is introduced after 49:15).
BBC Scotland quoted our reaction to the harassment of Leona Rawlinson by Sabbatarians in the Western Isles. Several other media outlets also picked up the story after we highlighted it. And we were quoted in LADBible's story about Buckfast, which has been linked to over 40% of arrests in Scotland.
Annual Report 2017
This year's Annual Report is now available. It has details of our campaigning, events and successes over the last year.
As our President Terry Sanderson steps down, this report makes clear the difference the NSS can make - and why our work is increasingly important. Whether you care most about faith-based education, free speech, abortion rights or equality laws, we're championing the secularist cause.
Annual General Meeting
Along with the Report, members received details of our AGM, which will be held on Saturday 25 November 2017 Registration will start at 13.00, details are on the website and the meeting is open to paid-up members and affiliated group representatives only.
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