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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 2 March 2018


Secularism is all about finding balance. It's about acknowledging the right to religious freedom while also acknowledging that this freedom needs to be reeled in once it encroaches on other rights. This is especially important when the human rights of the most vulnerable come under threat.

That's been the crux of our argument against infant genital cutting, now a worldwide talking-point following Iceland's plans to ban male circumcision. It's also the basis for our campaign against unregistered faith schools. We welcomed the BBC's investigation into these illegal schools, which uncovered the appalling extent to which children's rights to a safe, clean and nurturing educational environment are being sacrificed in the name of religious indoctrination.

At a time when the government is considering restricting children's freedom to attend any state school by lifting the 50% cap on faith-based admissions, we were extremely saddened to learn that our honorary associate Baroness Muriel Turner of Camden passed away on Monday. Baroness Turner was dedicated to fighting for the right of children to be welcomed all schools, regardless of their family's religion, and we will truly miss her inspirational passion.


News & Opinion


Religious freedom isn't a licence to violate others’ rights

Increasing clashes between religious orthodoxy and secular liberalism highlight one of the most pressing challenges facing... Read More »


NSS mourns the loss of Baroness Turner

The NSS is extremely saddened to report the passing of our honorary associate Baroness Muriel Turner of Camden.


NSS responds to Lancashire consultation on use of non-stun meat

The NSS has urged Lancashire County Council to proceed with plans to stop supplying non-stun meat to schools.


UN: UK should legalise abortion and ensure NI women can access it

The NSS has welcomed a UN call for the UK to liberalise its abortion laws, both nationwide and particularly in Northern Ireland.


Sturgeon’s praise for Catholic schools will exacerbate Scotland’s tribal divisions

Catholic schools are no remedy for a society facing ingrained sectarian division, writes Neil Barber. In praising them Scotland's first minister has shown a willingness to sacrifice social cohesion to reach a block vote.


NSS criticises Facebook over ban on ‘halal lion king’ satirist

The NSS has criticised Facebook's decision to remove the page of a satirist who mocks Islamist preachers.


Judicial office rejects complaints against equal treatment coroner

A judicial complaints office has rejected all complaints against a North London coroner who treats people equally regardless of religion.


Read elsewhere


Is there a problem with unregistered schools?

By Noel Titheradge, for BBC News

School inspectors have warned that there are hundreds of unregistered schools but that they have few powers to investigate or shut them down.


Quotes of the week

"Like most secularists, I also believe in equality. We also believe in freedom of religion. All we object to is that beliefs that we and other people do not share are simply imposed on us whether we like them or not."
Baroness Muriel Turner of Camden, NSS Honorary Associate who passed away on February 26th 2018

"It is more important than ever for our children to interact with people their age of different backgrounds and faiths. Enforcing division, which the children themselves have had no say in, is only damaging to society."
Layla Moran, education spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, speaks out against scrapping the 50% religion-based admissions cap in faith schools


Essays of the week

'Iceland gets my vote for banning male circumcision'
By Katie Law, for the Evening Standard

"This is not be a question about relative pain, it is a question of whether you believe your right to impose your religious beliefs on your child trumps the rights of the child."

The American who fled 'gay conversion' in Africa
By Owen Amos, for BBC News

A midnight taxi to the US embassy; an emergency flight home; a new life in New York. An ex-Muslim tells his story.


NSS speaks out

NSS CEO Stephen Evans wrote in The Huffington Post on the importance of not leaving religious liberty in the hands of zealots, following Iceland's proposed ban on male genital cutting. The NSS's support for the proposed ban was additionally mentioned in The Times and The Evening Standard.


Secularist of the Year 2018

Tickets are now on sale 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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