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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 23 March 2018


As the IICSA inquiry wraps up three weeks of devastating evidence into the Church of England's handling of child sexual abuse in Chichester, we're reminded of the urgency of the case for secularism. During the hearings it's repeatedly been clear how deference to religion helped to allow entitled clergy to cover up grotesque crimes.

Separating religion from public life is the only way to safeguard the rights of everyone, no matter what their religious background or personal beliefs. But the finding this week that almost three-quarters of young people in the UK say they have no religion is still a striking reminder that the treatment of religion in public life is incongruous with the views of the country's people. We'll be encouraging politicians to reflect on both the need and appetite for change.

This week we've been busily preparing for our annual Secularist of the Year awards, and we look forward to seeing those of you attending tomorrow.


News & Opinion


Bishops must be accountable – and not just to themselves

Abridged version of the winding-up speech by lawyer Richard Scorer of Slater and Gordon, also an NSS vice president, at the... Read More »


Most young people in UK have no religion, says survey

The NSS has called for "a rethink of religion's public role" after a report found that 70% of young people in the UK have no religion.


NSS calls on Scottish government to repeal blasphemy laws

The NSS has called on the Scottish government to repeal its blasphemy laws as the SNP's governing body considered the measure.


Court rules C of E had right to block married gay man from NHS role

The NSS has called for religious hospital chaplaincy to end after a court accepted a bishop's right to block a gay man from an NHS role.


NSS welcomes repeal of Offensive Behaviour at Football Act

The NSS has welcomed the repeal of a Scottish law which restricted football fans' freedom of expression on religion in an attempt to tackle sectarianism.


NSS urges council to provide secular garden of remembrance

The NSS has urged City of Edinburgh Council to ensure secular cremation arrangements are provided as standard.


Quotes of the week

"A terrible week with evidence of religious exceptionalism, stupidity, incompetence, lying, dumping responsibility at every level including the highest, and folie de grandeur. Bishops must be accountable. This means not just to themselves."
Alan Wilson, the bishop of Buckingham, on the revelations from the IICSA inquiry

"From the start of his career to his dying breath, he was cocooned, chastised and cared for by the institution in which he had flourished. Ultimately he was shamed, but he was not cast out."
Rosemary Goring reflects on the death of Keith O'Brien, the Catholic cardinal who faced a string of allegations of sexual abuse

"A man has been convicted in a UK court of making a joke that was deemed 'grossly offensive'. If you don't believe in a person's right to say things that you might find 'grossly offensive', then you don't believe in freedom of speech."
Ricky Gervais responds to the conviction of a man who filmed a pet dog giving Nazi salutes

See our quotes of the week archive...


Essay of the week

On retirement, I could openly admit I didn't believe in God for the first time
By Peter Gunning, for The Journal
It's difficult to maintain the balance between being an atheist principal and managing a Catholic school in Ireland.


Read elsewhere


Help me find the antidote to fight extremists in our own communities

By Sara Khan, for The Sun

We need a powerful response so extremists do not divide our country.


Religious extremism inspired my abusers in Rotherham

By Ella Hill, for The Independent

Grooming gangs are not like paedophile rings; instead, they operate almost exactly like terrorist networks, with all the same strategies.


NSS speaks out

Our president Keith Porteous Wood, our vice-president Terry Sanderson and our communications officer Chris Sloggett went on local BBC radio stations to discuss the decline of religion among the young. Keith went on Radio Wales (he's introduced 10 minutes in to the show); Terry appeared on Three Counties Radio (from 1:12:43); Chris was on BBC Radio Stoke (from 22:06).

The chair of our Secular Medical Forum, Dr Antony Lempert, was one of the two guests on the first-ever head-to-head version of the Godless Spellchecker podcast. He debated forced genital cutting.

Our chief executive Stephen Evans was quoted in Pink News on the gay man who was barred from an NHS role as a chaplain because of a bishop's veto.


Conference on 21st Century RE for All

There are just three weeks to go until our 21st Century RE for All conference.

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

Saturday 14 April, Conway Hall, Central London.

Find out more...


Other events


Nottingham Secular Society: Assisted Dying - What do you think?

Date: Tuesday 27th March 2018, 19:30 prompt start
Location: the Canal House, 48-52 Canal Street, Nottingham
Tickets: £2 on the door
Details: Tim Bell is a retired local man, whose working career... Read More »


Scottish Secular Society: The Major Minor Cinema: the Highlands and Islands Film Guild (1946-71)

Date: Thursday 3 May 2018

Time: 19:30–22:00
Venue: 17 Queens Crescent, St Georges Cross, G4 9BL Glasgow, United Kingdom

Dr Ian Good and Dr Ealasaid Munro present some of the key findings of their AHRC... Read More »


One Law For All: Conference on Sharia, Segregation and Secularism

Date: Sunday 25 November 2018, 09:30 – 20:30
Location: Central London
Tickets: From £65.27
Details: Join notable secularists and veteran women's rights campaigners for a conference on Sharia,... Read More »


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