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National Secular Society

For Freedom And Fairness


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Newsline 9 February 2018


Faith groups which try to restrict children's education on relationships and sex can cause great harm. Avoiding these issues can leave young people exposed with little understanding of contraception, appropriate boundaries or healthy, consensual relationships. LGBT+ people can grow up confused and loathing themselves.

Making Relationships and Sex Education a statutory requirement in schools was a major step forward. Now we must ensure the Government does not give damaging concessions which would restrict the way it is taught on faith grounds. We've responded to the Government's consultation, but faith groups are spreading propaganda and drumming up responses as the deadline approaches.

Your support would be valuable. Please consider making your voice heard by answering the DfE's online survey by Monday.


News & Opinion


NSS: Faith must not restrict pupils' access to sex education

The NSS has told the Government that young people's access to Relationships and Sex Education should not be restricted on religious grounds.


NSS urges Government not to be pushed into funding Church repairs

The NSS has urged the Government to take the Church of England's wealth into account before giving it grants for building repairs.


The Government should be wary of its review on sharia ‘law’

Sadikur Rahman says implementing official recommendations on sharia 'courts' would entangle civil and religious law and undermine vulnerable women's rights. The Government should instead secularise the marriage laws.


Priest’s certificate may be used for admissions, says regulator

Catholic schools may give pupils priority in admissions based on a certificate signed by a priest, a regulator has ruled.


CoE faced 3,300 safeguarding concerns or abuse allegations in 2016

The Church of England handled more than 3,000 safeguarding concerns or allegations of abuse in 2016, according to newly-released papers.


Council launches consultation on unstunned meat plan for schools

Lancashire County Council is consulting on plans to stop supplying unstunned meat to schools after threats of legal action and a boycott.


NSS criticises Foreign Office for “fetishising” the hijab

The NSS has criticised the Foreign Office for "fetishising Islamic head coverings" after it encouraged staff to mark 'world hijab day'.


Read elsewhere


Sharia laws are part of the extremist threat and not a solution

Open letter, by One Law for All and others

The Government and its reviewers on sharia 'law' have failed the women most affected by the issue and ignored the concerns of rights advocates, according to a group of black and minority women and human rights campaigners.


Quotes of the week

"It is not right that head teachers trying to do the right thing are left to fend for themselves against a fundamentalist backlash… We all have an interest in providing young people with an education that opens minds. Those who seek to close minds and narrow opportunities do the opposite."
The Sunday Times
calls for the Government to stand up against Islamist influence in schools

"While it is certainly the right of parents to give their children guidance when it comes to religion, such a right can never exceed the rights of the child."
MPs in Iceland explain why they've introduced a bill to ban forced cutting of infant boys' genitals for non-medical reasons


Essays of the week

How Sara Khan's critics prove she's the right choice
By Terry Murray, Beatrice Louis, and Khadija Khan Lodhi, for Conatus News

The opposition to Sara Khan as the Government's new counter-extremism commissioner from many special interest groups shows she is the right person for the role.

To know Donald Trump's faith is to understand his politics
By Martyn Percy, for the Guardian

If you want to know how the US president's time in charge will pan out, understanding his faith is key. His interior religious landscape is "a kind of politico-spiritual Ponzi scheme" and his politics flow from it.

Trump vowed to destroy the Johnson amendment. Thankfully, he has failed.
By David Saperstein and Amanda Tyler, for the Washington Post

Last year President Trump promised to "totally destroy" a law which prevents religious organisations from endorsing political candidates and parties. He returned to the prayer breakfast where he made the pledge this week. David Saperstein and Amanda Tyler say he should "reverse course and stop politicising religion".


NSS speaks out

Our president Keith Porteous Wood discussed the Vatican's response to child abuse on Turkish channel TRT World. Our research on the forced wearing of the hijab in schools was cited in The Economist.

Our chief executive Stephen Evans was quoted in The National, a paper based in the UAE, on proposals to regulate sharia councils in Britain. And our spokesperson in Scotland, Alistair McBay, had a letter published in Hebrides News on the arts centre which has been the focus of Sabbatarian protests on Lewis.


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...


Conference on 21st Century RE for All

Thirty years after the introduction of a national curricular entitlement for all pupils, the religious education syllabus is still decided locally by committees of faith representatives, or worse, by religious bodies responsible for running faith schools.

This one day conference will explore the future of religion and belief education in schools, and how we can create a truly balanced and non-partisan approach.

Find out more...


Upcoming events

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