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National Secular Society

secularism.org.uk

Newsline

Newsline 15 September 2017

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Introduction...

Last week a highly-respected study showed that the British people are less religious than ever. Now another survey has provided further evidence that Britain is not a Christian country. The Church of England's own figures suggest that just 6% of British adults are practising Christians. Perhaps even more revealingly, the vast majority of Christians took on the label during childhood. This makes clear why the Church of England is desperate to expand its role in schools.

Some powerful Christians are not responding well to these long-term trends. The row over two Christian parents who withdrew their children from school because another child was wearing a dress should only have been a parochial story. But thanks to the efforts of Christian lobbying groups, the risible claim that their religious rights had been violated was given national attention.

The religious lobby commonly claims victimhood where none exists, and we will continue to be alert to this tactic. The religious should be expected to give the same justification for their views as anyone else – a point well made by Isabel Hardman and the LA Times editorial board in our essays of the week.

We must also remain vigilant of fundamentalists from other faiths who wish to assert their own worldview. We need, as Janice Turner puts it in one of our quotes of the week, a clear set of rules under which everyone can live. This is why we signed a letter to the Sunday Times last week calling for a robust response to the rise of the hijab in primary schools.

It is why we submitted evidence to a House of Lords select committee calling on politicians to make secularist principles the basis of plans for civic engagement. And on the international day of democracy, it is why we reaffirm our commitment to citizens' equal value as individuals, universal human rights, the rule of law and the separation of religion and politics.

  

News and opinion

 

NSS asks Lords committee on citizenship to promote secular principles

The NSS has called on Britain to celebrate equality and respect for secular democracy, the rule of law and human rights.

 

Just 6% of British adults are practising Christians, survey finds

Only 6% of adults in Britain are practising Christians and very few of them decided to become Christians during adulthood, a survey has found.

 

Inclusion of trans pupils violates religious rights, claim parents

Two parents have withdrawn their son from a Church of England primary school after it allowed a student to wear a girl's uniform.

 

Campaigners raise concern over hijab in primary schools

Feminist campaigners are calling for a "robust" response to the rise of the hijab in state primary schools.

 

The best guarantee of religious freedom is keeping religion out of politics

By Matt Holden, for Sydney Morning Herald

As Australia's postal vote on same-sex marriage gets underway, Matt Holden argues that the only religious 'freedom' being threatened is the freedom of organised religion to tell the rest of us how to live.

  

Events

 

7th International Congress of Freethought

Date: Thursday 21 - Sunday September 2017
Location: Salle Léon Jouhaux – Annexe de la Bourse du Travail, 67 rue Turbigo – 75003 Paris
Tickets: From €65
Details: An international conference... Read More »

 

The inaugural Bradlaugh Lecture: Dare To Stand Alone, the Story of Charles Bradlaugh

Date: Saturday 9th September 2017, 14.00-17.00
Location: Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3JL
Tickets: Free for members, £5 recommended donation for non-members
Details: The inaugural... Read More »

 

A new British democracy for post-Brexit Britain

Date: Monday 25 September 2017, 19:30
Location: Canal House, 48-52 Canal Street, Nottingham
Tickets: From £2
Details: Graham Smith, the CEO of Republic, speaks to the Nottingham Secular Society. He... Read More »

  

  

Quotes of the week

"Without rancour or aggression, we must look clear-eyed at the encroachment of religion into the public sphere and draw up new rules under which we can all live."
Janice Turner, Times columnist

"Western politicians should stop pretending that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam."
Yahya Cholil Staquf, an influential Islamic leader in Indonesia

  

Essays of the week

There's no 'gay wedding cake' exception to US anti-discrimination laws
Editorial, the Los Angeles Times

If a court equates the provision of regular commercial services such as baking with 'compelled speech', it could undermine protections against discrimination in circumstances far removed from wedding cakes.

The most half-baked thing about the anti-transgender Christian couple isn't their approach to gender
By Isabel Hardman, for The Spectator

Christians need the liberal society they often rail against, and should be expected to justify their views just as other people are.

  

NSS speaks out

Our executive director Keith Porteous Wood appeared on the BBC's Daily Politics to discuss the role of religion in politics (the clip begins after 39:09). He also discussed British people becoming less religious on BBC Three Counties Radio. Our vice-president Alistair McBay commented on a proposal to open a cinema and art gallery on Sundays in Stornoway in the Scotsman and the row over the school pupil in a dress in a letter to the Independent. And our campaigns director Stephen Evans went on Voice of Islam to discuss the hijab's place in schools.

  

  

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