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National Secular Society

For Freedom And Fairness


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Newsline 15 December 2017


"The great struggle of our time is the battle to separate church and state, and to maintain such separation as has already allowed democratic civilisation to grow and develop."

So said the great Christopher Hitchens, who died six years ago today. The disestablishment of the Church of England is one of the most significant causes we campaign for – and now we've stepped up our efforts to achieve it.

This week we've published our report Separating Church and State. We've made the case for disestablishment, outlined some of the precedents for it and highlighted some of the opportunities to press for change which will arise in the years ahead.

Disestablishment would make our society fairer and more egalitarian. Thank you for your support as we work to make it a reality.


News & Opinion


Charles’s accession could prompt disestablishment, says NSS report

Prince Charles's accession to the throne will offer an "opportune moment" to disestablish the Church of England, an NSS report says.


NSS accuses Welby of ‘cynical abuse of religious privilege’ over Lords education debate

The National Secular Society has criticised the "cynical abuse of religious privilege" at a House of Lords debate led by the Archbishop of Canterbury.


NSS: promote free speech as “a positive value” on campus

The NSS has told a parliamentary committee free speech should be protected "not only as a legal concept" on university campuses.


More religious schools undermining British values, warns Ofsted

A growing number of religious schools are spreading beliefs that clash with British values and equalities law, Ofsted has warned.


Widespread support for inclusive secular schooling in Hackney

A consultation has revealed extensive support for inclusive secular education in the London borough of Hackney.


The Christian ‘legal army’ in hundreds of court battles worldwide

Women's rights advocates say the US legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom is "exporting extreme ideologies worldwide" against sexual and reproductive rights. Claire Provost and Ella Milburn investigate.


NSS writes elsewhere


Sooner or later we're going to have to get on with disestablishment

By Stephen Evans, NSS CEO, for the Huffington Post

The royal wedding and the coronation of the next monarch will highlight the reality that our state institutions are still clubs for Christians. There is a responsibility on all of us that want to live in a fairer, more egalitarian society to challenge religious privilege and push for disestablishment.


Quotes of the week

"The challenges for those of a moderate disposition are many. We, as ordinary citizens, cannot hide from the consequences of extremist actions. Believers, atheists and agnostics alike, we are all in this together."
Amina Lone says there is an imperative to push back against all forms of extremism

"A core function of education is to pass on what one generation knows to the next. Part and parcel of this is spreading the values and culture that bind us as a society. There is no tension between this and religious pluralism. In fact, any proper teaching of fundamental British values encourages respect and tolerance for others' views."
Ofsted's Annual Report, which highlighted the failure of some faith schools to prepare children for life in modern Britain

"The clerical hunger for unchallenged dogmatic authority is still strong. It reinforces inequalities and absurdities, and makes faith a bully."
Libby Purves, arguing that the supposed infallibility of religious institutions allowed child abusers to hide in plain sight


Essay of the week

England's shift to opt-out organ donation will save many lives
By John Chisholm, for New Scientist

The chair of the British Medical Association's medical ethics committee says it has been a travesty that hundreds of people die due to a lack of transplant organs and an opt-out donation scheme is long overdue in England.


NSS speaks out

The Guardian covered our report on the disestablishment of the Church of England and the opportunity that Prince Charles's accession will present to press the case. Coverage in a range of outlets followed, including Christian Today and the Daily Express. And the Huffington Post published our CEO Stephen Evans's blog on the subject (which you can read above).

Meanwhile Stephen also spoke out in Arab News about the "growing menace" of illegal faith schools. And our council member Sadikur Rahman was extensively quoted in an Economist article on potential accommodations for Muslim marriage.


And finally

Eleven MPs have backed an early day motion in the House of Commons about the "real meaning" of Christmas. Strangford MP Jim Shannon, of the Democratic Unionist Party, tabled the motion. He says he is on a mission to persuade people to "keep Christ in their Christmas".

Alastair Lichten's blog for the NSS, written last month, explains why we don't think developments such as this are as benign as they may seem.


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