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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 12 January 2018


This week's cabinet reshuffle has put secularists on notice. The new education secretary, Damian Hinds, is a proponent of religiously selective schools who has spoken out in favour of lifting the 50% cap on faith-based admissions.

In our top story this week you can see how we've already lobbied him on this vital issue. We've told him we accept that new capacity is needed in the school system but it should be created without sacrificing equality and social cohesion. You can help us to keep up the pressure on the DfE by writing to your MP today, using a template we've prepared for you, by clicking here.


News & Opinion


NSS: education secretary must keep faith-based admissions cap

The NSS has urged Damian Hinds not to remove the 50% cap on religiously selective admissions to faith-based academies and free schools.


Research reveals systemic bias against secular schools

The NSS has written to the DfE after research showed faith-based provision is treated preferentially during school reorganisations.


The David and Goliath battle in our schools: parents versus religion

As NSS research highlights a systemic bias against secular schooling, Megan Manson explores the tactics used by religion... Read More »


Let’s point out that the ‘Je ne suis pas Charlie’ brigade are helping the terrorists win

Three years after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Chris Sloggett says it is a moral duty to push back against those who invent... Read More »


Secularist conference to explore ‘21st Century RE for All’

The National Secular Society is to hold a one day conference on reform of religion and belief education in schools, with speakers to include Prof. A. C. Grayling.


Councils powerless to help children in illegal faith schools

The NSS says a report from Hackney Council has highlighted the urgent need for new legislation to regulate unregistered 'schools'.


How to win (cathedral) friends and influence people

The Government is hailing the work done under a fund for the restoration of cathedrals. But NSS treasurer Ed Moore asks if... Read More »


Religious groups should deliver public services “on an equal opportunities basis”

A minister has told the NSS public services must be delivered "on an equal opportunities basis", including by religious groups.


Fundamentalists feel the Force of Star Wars

Sabbatarians in Lewis claim a right to impose their beliefs on others, including by banning screenings of Star Wars on Sundays.... Read More »


From the archives


Why we need a 21st century RE for all

By Stephen Evans, NSS chief executive

This year will bring the 30th anniversary of the Education Reform Act 1988, which saw the introduction of a national curricular entitlement for all pupils. One subject alone remains set apart from this - religious education.


Secularist of the Year 2018

Tickets are now on sale and nominations are open for Secularist of the Year 2018. The awards ceremony and social reception will be held on Saturday 24 March in central London. Member tickets are £40. Join us to celebrate the outstanding groups and inspiring individuals advancing secularism and related human rights.

Find out more...


Quotes of the week

"Appeasing religious extremists is a bottomless pit and the civilised world needs to remain on guard against archaic practices and ideologies because their proponents will not stop until all of their demands are met."
Khadija Khan, Conatus News

"I want the clerics out of my face. I want to live my life without interference and realise my full potential."
Thomas Friedman's summary of the attitude of the young people he's encountered in Saudi Arabia


Essays of the week

The story of a feminist victory against fundamentalists and gender segregation in UK schools
By Pragna Patel, for openDemocracy

In October the Court of Appeal ruled that gender segregation in schools is discriminatory. This landmark judgement has potentially far-reaching consequences for women and girls from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Iranian and Saudi youth try to bury 1979
By Thomas Friedman, for the New York Times

A majority of people in Iran and Saudi Arabia are under 30. A growing number of them are fed up with being told how to live their lives by clerics — and they want to bury 1979 and everything it brought.


Read again

Our sacred right to blaspheme
By Caroline Fourest, published by Politico

On the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attack, Caroline Fourest said the magazine had been attacked, threatened, misunderstood and maligned – but it had stuck to its core values. Her words are still worth reading two years later.


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