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Newsline 8 December 2017


We're pleased to announce that nominations have opened for our 2018 Secularist of the Year award. As religious fundamentalists become increasingly assertive and mainstream policy makers concede ground to them, this is an excellent chance to raise the profile of the often unsung heroes who stand for human rights, freedom and equality before the law. We have information on how to nominate people or groups and buy tickets for the awards luncheon below.


News & Opinion


NSS warns against plan to mix secular and Hindu academy trusts

Plans to merge a secular multi-academy trust and a Hindu one may create more "faith schools by stealth", the NSS has told the Government.


Replace RE with new national entitlement, says NSS

The NSS has called for a new national entitlement for religion and belief education in England to ensure all pupils learn about a diversity of religious and non-religious worldviews.


Faith groups ‘shouldn’t proselytise when providing public services’

The NSS has written to the Government after a minister said Christian charities need not hide their faith when providing public services.


Secularism ‘regressing on a global scale’, says report

The idea that secularism and human rights will inevitably establish themselves is "deeply complacent and apathetic," a report says.


Survivors say Church hierarchy failing to lead on child abuse

Campaigners say the Archbishop of Canterbury is being "evasive" and failing to offer "clear leadership" over clerical child abuse.


Faith schools using RS IGCSE loophole to teach just one religion

The number of pupils being entered for an RS IGCSE exam which allows them to learn about only one religion rose by 40% last year.


Pakistan’s capitulation to extremists sets a dangerous precedent

Pakistan's government, military and opposition parties have given in to the demands of a fundamentalist mob. Basit Mahmood says this is a blow to those who wish to remain true to the secular vision of Pakistan's founder.


Nominations open for Secularist of the Year prize

The National Secular Society has called on supporters to submit nominations for the 13th Secularist of the Year award.


Quotes of the week

"It is repugnant to generally accepted standards of morality to require someone to lie, especially about matters so concerned with their protected human rights."
Employment Tribunal ruling against an ultra-orthodox Jewish nursery that sacked a teacher for living with her boyfriend outside of wedlock

"The Ofsted inspector said there has to be toilet rolls. We said there are always toilet rolls but they are not always out - so what?"
Headteacher Abdul Ghafoor Salloo defends a Muslim girls' school's policy of not providing toilet paper for "cultural reasons"

"Stifling debate is dangerous. We know these ignorant or dangerous views exist, but if you ignore them they don't go away. They fester. People feel a sense of frustration that they don't have the freedom to express their views, which can lead to even more extreme views."
Dr Uamsa Hasan, head of Islamic studies at the Quilliam Foundation

"What a day, what a day for love, for equality, for respect."
Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to legalise same-sex marriage, despite religious opposition


Essays of the week

Liberal Muslims are losing the battle in Britain
By Rabbil Sikdar, for the Huffington Post

The hysteria of a cluster of conservative-minded activists to chase after liberal Muslims illustrates how they feel they have ownership of Islam, and they alone can define what it means to be a Muslim.

God versus Everyone Else: why evangelicals are standing by Roy Moore
By Elaina Plott, for UnHerd

Roy Moore has reframed his race for a Senate seat as 'God versus Everyone Else'. And despite allegations of sexual misconduct, evangelicals will back him out of tribal loyalty.

A video journalist wrestles with the candour of an Egyptian woman
By Mona El-Naggar, for the New York Times

An Egyptian woman rebelled against the radical Islamist ideas seeping into the mainstream of her society. Esraa has now left her job, moved apartments and been living in a state of total paralysis.


NSS speaks out

Our campaigns officer Megan Manson discussed the secularisation of Christmas on the Chris Mann show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. Keith Porteous Wood, the NSS president, discussed a similar topic on Radio Essex. TES based a report on our concerns about the merger of a secular multi-academy trust with a Hindu one. And our research on Operation Christmas Child was mentioned in Third Force News.


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