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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 13 April 2018


This week we've had several reminders that schools remain the most significant battleground for secularists today. Most significantly in England, our exclusive research has found that more than 18,000 families were assigned faith schools this year despite the fact parents preferred a non-faith school. And we're particularly disappointed that the government has abandoned plans for a compulsory register of out-of-school education settings after fearmongering and intense lobbying from religious groups.

Meanwhile religious polarisation remains entrenched in Northern Irish society, 20 years on from the Good Friday Agreement. We're once again calling on politicians to prioritise the integration of schools to help tackle this.

Secularism is an essential part of promoting justice and ensuring cohesion and equality between citizens. With your continued support, we'll continue to challenge religious privilege by making a principled stand for freedom, fairness and human rights.


News & Opinion


18,000 children sent to faith schools against parental preference

More than 18,000 children were sent to faith schools against their parents' preferences in England this year, an NSS analysis has found.


DfE U-turn leaves children in out-of-school settings unprotected

The NSS has criticised the government for giving in to faith groups over the registration of out-of-school educational settings.


NSS welcomes decision to implement buffer zone around abortion clinic

The NSS has welcomed the creation of a buffer zone around a west London abortion clinic and called for similar action nationwide.


The row over right of withdrawal highlights the need to reform RE

Teachers from the ATL union have voted to demand a clampdown on parents selectively withdrawing their children from RE. But... Read More »


NSS calls for school integration in NI amid religious polarisation

The NSS has called for action to integrate Northern Ireland's schools after a poll revealed the extent of religious polarisation there.


Mother calls for boys to have legal protection from genital cutting

A woman is challenging a decision not to prosecute a doctor after her son was subjected to a harmful circumcision without her consent.


DfE consults on creating home education register

The government is consulting over proposals to introduce a register of home-educated children.


NSS criticises creation of Muslim state schools in Manchester

The NSS has criticised the creation of two state-funded, single-sex Muslim secondary schools for up to 800 children each in Manchester.


Other news

The poll which highlighted the extent of religious polarisation in Northern Ireland also found that 76% of people in Northern Ireland support same-sex marriage and 54% support unrestricted access to abortion for women up to 12 weeks pregnant.

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Read elsewhere


Sects and violence

By 'Ratbiter', for Private Eye

A government quango set up to combat hatred against Muslims is proving oddly muted when it comes to intra-Muslim violence.


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Quotes of the week

"This was never about protest. It was about small groups of strangers choosing to gather by our entrance gates where they could harass and intimidate women and try to prevent them from accessing healthcare to which they are legally entitled."
Richard Bentley, Marie Stopes UK managing director, on buffer zones outside abortion clinics

"Don't let go, be the British bulldog, be tenacious. I would tell anybody out there to trust in the British justice system. Yes, it's crazily weird, but you will get justice."
A woman who was sexually abused as a child by members of the Salvation Army outlines what she'd tell others after the conviction of her abusers

"Politics apart, this is horrible that some people would see this horrendous crime through a religious prism to gain some mileage. It's a new low and I don't know if we can stoop any lower after this."
Girdhari Lal, a retired teacher, reflects on the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl from a Muslim family in Indian-controlled Kashmir. The crime has sparked protests from Hindu nationalists, who are demanding the release of the accused

See our quotes of the week archive...


Essays of the week

Can Ealing's abortion clinic "buffer zone" be replicated to protect women everywhere?
By Anoosh Chakelian, for the New Statesman

A historic local vote curbing anti-abortion protesters may be tough for other councils to pursue.

The case that could end ritual male circumcision in the UK
By Niall McCrae, for The Conversation

A woman from Nottingham, England is suing the doctor who carried out a circumcision on her infant son without her permission. A much-needed precedent would boost the cause against all forms of child genital cutting.

Humour and hot water: should Islam be a target of satire?
By Thomas Clements, for Conatus News

An interview with Waleed Wain, the comic behind the character Veedu Vidz, who has received bans on his Facebook page for posting satirical videos on Islam and Muslim preachers.


NSS speaks out

Our president Keith Porteous Wood spoke to a European Parliament conference this week about discrimination against and persecution of non-believers around the world. We've published the transcript of his speech.


Upcoming events


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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