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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 5 April 2019


This week we've been standing against religious incursions on LGBT+ rights, children's rights, patient autonomy, animal welfare and more. We're continuing to push back against powerful religious groups, who enjoy constitutional and social privileges which undermine attempts to make society freer and fairer.

We can only do this with your support. If you value our work, you can join or donate to the NSS today. Alternatively, if you're interested in the debate around religious freedom and its limits, why not come along to our Secularism 2019 conference on 18 May? Tickets are just £50 – or £25 if you are (or become) a member.


News & Opinion


Anti-LGBT psychologist investigated after NSS raises concerns

The NSS has asked two professional bodies to investigate whether an anti-LGBT psychologist's views are compatible with their standards.


NSS welcomes home education reform and registration scheme

The NSS has welcomed a government plan requiring local authorities and families to register children outside mainstream education.


MPs call for labelling of meat from non-stun slaughter

A cross-party group of MPs is calling for meat produced from religious non-stun slaughter methods to be clearly labelled.


Poll: 84% of Brits would support legalisation of assisted dying

Five in six Britons are prepared to support legalisation of assisted dying, a poll has found, despite religious institutions' opposition.


Jewish faith school to split to avoid gender segregation ruling

A Jewish school where male and female pupils receive separate RE lessons and curricula has finalised plans to split into two schools.


The advertising regulator is pandering to religious offence-taking

As a regulator issues patronising advice to advertisers in the run-up to Easter, Chris Sloggett takes a look at its guidance on religious offence – and finds a deep and damaging aversion to freedom of expression.


Six independent faith schools warned over safeguarding failures

The government has warned six independent faith schools in England over their failures to meet safeguarding standards.


News: published on Monday


Government to approve first Jedi faith school

The government is set to announce that a Jedi academy will be among a series of new schools which it plans to open in England.


Other news

Brunei's strict new Islamic laws that make gay sex an offence punishable by stoning to death have come into force.

Pope Francis has defended his decision to reject the resignation of Philippe Barbarin, the French Roman Catholic cardinal convicted on charges of failing to report sexual abuse.

An Islamic State fighter held in Syria has told the BBC he was one of at least seven students and ex-students from the University of Westminster to join IS.

The education inspectorate Ofsted has found homophobic and misogynistic books at an independent Islamic primary school in east London.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is to attend a meeting organised by a Charedi activist who has strongly opposed the government's plans to make teaching about LGBT people compulsory.

A newborn boy has become the latest child to die after a ritual genital cutting in Italy.

The World Congress of Families, a coalition of far-right politicians, conservative activists and religious leaders, was staged over the weekend in the Italian city of Verona.


Read elsewhere


Parkfield LGBT protest: Why has the school’s top teacher been silenced?

By Liz Lightfoot, for The Guardian

Andrew Moffat, who drew up an award-winning lesson programme for equality and diversity, has been targeted and effectively silenced.


Inside the angry Muslim-led protests over diversity lessons in Birmingham primary schools

By Oliver Harvey, for The Sun

Angry demonstrations over lessons about LGBT relationships have spread from Parkfield Community School to Anderton Park School in Birmingham.


Heartbeat abortion bills were once a fringe idea in the US. Could they now overturn Roe v Wade?

By Emily Shugerman, for The Daily Beast

The idea of 'heartbeat' abortion bans used to be viewed as ridiculous, but is now mainstream among US Republicans.


Buy your tickets: Secularism 2019

There are just six weeks to go until our Secularism 2019 conference at The Tower Hotel in London on Saturday 18 May. Tickets are selling fast - you can buy yours now.


Our upcoming events include a conference on children's bodily integrity, featuring the chair of or Secular Medical Forum Dr Antony Lempert, at the University of Leeds.

See all upcoming events.


Essays of the week

Progressive Muslims can't stay silent about homophobia in Islam
By Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, for iNews

It is hard to be a progressive Muslim in today's riven, regressive, fanatical and tribalised world.


We must be able to speak freely after Christchurch
By Khadija Khan, for sister-hood

Only free speech can drive out hatred. Silence allows it to fester.


How Wales can avoid England's turmoil over LGBT-inclusive education
By Laura McAllister, for Wales Online

Liberal values need to prevail for the sake of diversity, tolerance and acceptance.


Quotes of the week

"We are educators. Our role is teach children to divide fractions, to know what a fronted adverbial is, or the positive impact of ancient Greece on modern society. But it's also to help children to be kind, to resolve differences, to know they can have friends of different backgrounds and faiths, to know that black people are equal to white people, and gay people are equal to straight people, and women are equal to men."
Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, headteacher of Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham, on protests from mainly Muslim parents against teaching about diversity


"The left is rightly outraged, but the cause lies at its own door. In sidelining the universal values of human rights and secular justice for identity politics, it has emboldened conservative Islam."
Janice Turner, Times columnist, on the row over diversity teaching


"Christmas has not been cancelled. I would encourage that information should be factual."
Joe McHugh, Ireland's minister for education and skills, on Catholic schools' claims about what will happen if schools change hands


Sign the petition – say No More Faith Schools

Schools are for teaching, not preaching. And we should stop dividing our children by their parents' religion. Sign our petition and tell us why you're saying No More Faith Schools.


NSS speaks out

We were quoted in The Observer over the Health and Care Professions Council's decision to investigate an anti-LGBT psychologist in response to our concerns. The story was subsequently picked up by the Mail Online and various other media outlets. Further coverage followed in the Independent and the BBC after the British Psychological Society also decided to act on NSS concerns.

Our exclusive on the government approving the UK's first Jedi faith school made it into the Guardian's round-up of the best April Fools' Day jokes.


NSS scholarship

The NSS is keen to support original research that supports the evidence base of our campaigns work and improves public understanding of secularism. Applications for the latest round of funding are currently open.

Our scholarship committee will particularly be looking for applications which demonstrate:

  •   A significant contribution to the evidence base of one of our existing campaigns.
  •   The ability to improve understanding of secularism among both academics and the wider public.
  •   That the applicant has the necessary experience to complete the research to a high standard.

Applicants are strongly recommended to make reference to existing NSS campaigns and our Secular Charter.

Find out more and apply here.


Support our work

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


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