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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 9 March 2018


In our recent report on disestablishment, we challenged the traditional claims that the Church of England's supposed moral leadership of the nation justifies its attachment to the state. The pro-establishment lobby is becoming more reticent about making those arguments – and this week it has been devastatingly clear why.

At the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, witness after witness has revealed devastating details not only of the abuse within the diocese of Chichester, but of the church's appalling institutional response. And there is surely much more to come over the next two weeks.

One of the highlights of the week was our vice-president, Richard Scorer, delivering a statement examining the deferential culture that allowed this to happen and the need to hold the C of E to account. It is reproduced here. We expect you will be able to see why it attracted widespread praise from observers both sympathetic and otherwise.


News & Opinion


The C of E cannot be trusted to deal with safeguarding complaints in house

On the first day of hearings into child sexual abuse in the Church of England, NSS vice-president Richard Scorer told an... Read More »


Seven women who refused to be silenced by religious bullies

On International Women's Day, Megan Manson celebrates the stories of seven brave and determined women in the UK who religious... Read More »


NSS criticises guidance advising religious accommodations in court

The NSS has criticised guidance to judges which recommends restricting or altering court activities to accommodate religious sensitivities.


Peter Tatchell to present 2018 Secularist of the Year prize

The NSS is delighted to announce that human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell will present its Secularist of the Year prize for 2018.


Male circumcision is an issue of religious freedom - and should be prohibited as such

Proponents of ritual genital cutting often claim a 'right' to religious freedom justifies their position. But individuals... Read More »


Extremists exploit lax home schooling laws, police study finds

Half of 70 known extremists in London removed their children from state schools to educate them at home, according to a study.


NSS welcomes Lib Dem pledge to tackle unregistered schools

The NSS has welcomed the Liberal Democrats' pledge to tackle unregistered schools.


Faith schools minister warns independent Charedi schools in Hackney

Charedi-run schools in Hackney will face action unless they prepare children for "life in modern British society", a minister has warned.


What secularism means for African women’s rights and citizenship

In a long read for International Women's Day, Dr Fatou Sow says secularism is a feminist issue and reflects on its particular... Read More »


Read elsewhere


Why conservative Christians should stop defending George Carey

By Mark Woods, for Christian Today

As the authorities consider a prosecution against George Carey over an alleged cover-up of sexual abuse, Mark Woods refutes claims that the former archbishop of Canterbury is being 'attacked' because of his Christianity.


Quotes of the week

"You can't write off a good guy because of a bad day."
Roger Meekings, independent reviewer at the IICSA child abuse inquiry, records how the former bishop of Lewes, Wallace Benn, referred to a cleric with a conviction for sex abuse

"An empire of misogyny."
The former president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, describes the Catholic Church

"If a sweet thing is left uncovered, swarms of dirty creatures are liable to prey upon it and corrupt it. Similar is the case of a woman. The current wave of rape incidents in regions where public exposure of women prevails strengthens this argument beyond doubt."
An extract from an Islamic text seized in an illegal school


Essays of the week

Iceland could start a worldwide shift away from circumcision
By Sam Dunkovich, for Splice Today

Ritual genital cutting can only be done morally when an individual is fully able to consent to a permanent bodily modification.

Exorcists are back – and people are getting hurt
By Deborah Hyde, for The Guardian

The rise of exorcism in Catholic and evangelical churches is like a new Inquisition. But there are ways to stop the witch-hunt.


From the archives: International Women's Day


Yes, secularism is good for gender equality

Western academics who claim that secularism undermines women's rights are not merely wrong; their assertions are a slap in the face of women fighting for their rights under religious tyranny, says Megan Manson.


The human rights of women and secularism go hand in hand

On International Women's Day 2017 Alastair Lichten reflected on the relationship between gender and religious privilege, and what the secularist movement could learn from IWD.


NSS speaks out

Our president Keith Porteous Wood was quoted in the Telegraph on the prospect of an investigation into George Carey over an alleged cover-up of sex abuse.

Our education officer Alastair Lichten was the guest on an episode of the Godless Spellchecker podcast, where he discussed faith schools and secularism. He also responded to the head of Ofsted's concerns about extremism in schools in the National Catholic Reporter.

Our campaigns officer Megan Manson discussed limits on face veils in court on talkRADIO and faith schools on Voice of Islam.


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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