Happy new year to all our readers. As the year begins we're once again making our case for reform of the UK's public life to advance freedom of and from religion.
In particular we've written to the new speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, to ask him to support a review of the practice of holding prayers as
official parliamentary business opens. And later this month a bill we're backing which would remove Church of England bishops'
automatic right to sit in the House of Lords will be introduced to parliament.
In 2020 we already have an event planned on the legacy of the 1944 Education Act, a training day on our Exploring Secularism resources for educators and more. You
can find out more on our events page. And if you'd like to support our work and aren't
a member already, please consider joining the NSS. Thank you.
The NSS has welcomed a bill that proposes to scrap compulsory religious worship in non-faith schools in England.
Free speech news
An academic has been sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan. The
NSS argues that blasphemy is not a crime and blasphemy laws should be repealed wherever they exist.
Molotov cocktails have been thrown at the headquarters of a Brazilian
group which released a comedy portraying Jesus as gay. A far right group has claimed responsibility.
Petitioners have tried to shut down a new Netflix show, Messiah, claiming it is 'anti-Islamic' and 'blasphemous'. The NSS has said religious offence-taking shouldn't infringe artistic freedom.
Read more about the NSS's long-term campaign work to defend freedom of expression on religion, and
our recent news on the subject.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service has criticised BBC Radio 4's
Today programme for allowing a bishop to use the Thought for the Day slot to advance an anti-abortion view unchallenged. The NSS argues that Thought for the Day is discriminatory and should be abolished or reformed.
"What transpires in Westminster is all very bizarre for a 21st-century democracy and most especially in a multi-faith and multi-racial country."
Newly elected MP Kenny MacAskill on the tradition of holding Christian prayers as sitting days open in the House of Commons
NSS speaks out
Our communications officer Chris Sloggett was quoted in a feature on whether the Welsh Assembly should adopt a proposed definition of 'Islamophobia' in
Extra. He said the adoption of the definition would risk shutting down criticism of Islamic practices.
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