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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 3 August 2018


Each morning at around 7:45am the national broadcaster's flagship radio show engages in three minutes of blatant discrimination and religious privilege. BBC Radio 4's Today programme has been broadcasting Thought for the Day, an exclusively religious take on moral issues, since 1970. We've long campaigned for it to be reformed or scrapped.

Now a new poll has shown that just 18% of the public backs Thought for the Day in its current format. In response we've written to the BBC to call for change, and supporters including the philosopher AC Grayling are behind us. Based on the poll findings we've suggested turning it into an ethical current affairs slot.

You can show your support for our campaign for reform of Thought for the Day by signing our petition. Alternatively you can join us or donate to us so we can keep making the case for change. Thank you.


News & Opinion


Public backs reform of Thought for the Day, poll finds

Fewer than one in five British people think BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day should always feature religious content, a... Read More »


EHRC rebukes government over failure to act on caste discrimination

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has criticised the government's failure to legislate on caste discrimination.


NSS welcomes Ofsted head’s opposition to faith-based exemptions

The National Secular Society has welcomed the chief inspector of schools in England's expression of opposition to faith-based... Read More »


Anglicanism's 'purple circle' of bishops cannot be trusted over child abuse

NSS president Keith Porteous Wood reflects on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse's hearings into the case of... Read More »


Universities must commit to free expression – and they should stop hiring religious chaplains

A chaplain should not have been sacked for criticising Pride off campus, says Chris Sloggett. But universities can strike... Read More »


Washington Metro can reject issue-related ads, US court rules

Washington, DC's Metro system can refuse to carry religious adverts on buses and trains, an appeal court in the US has ruled.


NSS writes elsewhere


Do Burqa Bans Do More Harm Than Good?

By Stephen Evans, NSS chief executive, for the Huffington Post

We need a strong civil society response to the oppression the burqa represents – but banning clothing is the wrong way to push back against it.


Other news

A high court judge has decided that a couple's Islamic marriage falls within the scope of English matrimonial law.

Ampleforth College, one of the country's top Catholic schools, faces possible closure if it does not improve standards including the safeguarding of pupils and the rigour of its checks on staff.

The Supreme Court has ruled that judges will no longer need to be consulted when doctors and relatives of patients in a vegetative state agree life-support treatment should end. A Christian charity has criticised the ruling. Meanwhile the Board of Deputies of British Jews has said it "will look at the judges' ruling in detail to understand its full implications".

Staff and parents will seek a judicial review of a decision to close down a Church of England school in Surrey after the local diocese refused to take it on. Earlier this year the NSS criticised the church's diocese of Guildford for refusing to allow Ripley C of E Primary School to join a secular multi-academy trust.

One of America's most prominent Catholic cardinals has resigned after an allegation was made that he sexually abused a teenage boy almost 50 years ago.

A US-based brewery has withdrawn a beer label carrying an image of the Hindu deity Ganesha from its website after complaints from a Hindu leader. We reported the fact the same leader had complained to an Italian brewery over an image of Ganesha last week.

To get all the latest news and views on secularism from the media in your inbox every morning, you can sign up to receive your daily media briefing.


Quotes of the week

"I can't bear it that the frightful, terrifying man is on the loose again and doing his worst… I'll see off this horrid man if he tries anything again."
Prince Charles's words to the abusive bishop Peter Ball in 1997, referring to one of Ball's accusers, in a letter revealed by the IICSA inquiry


"Hatred has been given a mainstream legitimacy."
Nazia Erum, author, reflects on the situation for Muslims as Hindu nationalism grows in strength in India

See our quotes of the week archive...


Petition comment of the week

"It is wrong to think only religious people think deeply about life's big questions and have wisdom to share."
Jane in Middlesex explains why she supports reform of Thought for the Day

Explain why you support it by signing our petition.


Essays of the week

We have turned a blind eye to extremism against the British Ahmadi Muslim community
By Fiyaz Mughal, for the New Statesman

A web of extremism percolates outwards from Pakistan into communities in the UK.


It's perfectly safe – so why can't women take abortion pills at home?
By Claudia Craig, for the Guardian

Changes to the law have allowed women in Wales and Scotland to take the abortion pill at home. England should follow suit.


Read elsewhere


This ultra-conservative institute has infiltrated the Polish state, on a relentless quest to ban abortion

By Lidia Kurasinska, for openDemocracy

Ordo luris is an extreme anti-choice group whose founders were 'inspired' by a Catholic fundamentalist network. How has it gained so much political power?


US attorney general Jeff Sessions announces a 'religious liberty' task force to combat “dangerous” secularism

By Tara Isabella Burton, for Vox

The US Justice Department's latest move is another nod to Christian nationalism by the Trump administration.


Events coming up

Our annual Bradlaugh Lecture on Hindu nationalism in Manchester, a talk on our former president Chapman Cohen in Leicester and London and a healthcare conference in Birmingham.


Events in full

See all Events >


NSS speaks out

Our response to this week's poll on Thought for the Day was extensively quoted in The Herald and Ekklesia.

Our chief executive Stephen Evans appeared on BBC Radio Kent to discuss Denmark's ban on face coverings becoming law.


Support our work

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


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