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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 27 April 2018


Our No More Faith Schools campaign has gathered momentum this week. By yesterday our petition for an inclusive education system, free from religious discrimination and proselytisation, had more than 3,300 signatures. Almost 350 of you had sent letters to your MPs. And more than 40,000 people had viewed the site.

So it was timely that just after the campaign's launch the former education secretary Justine Greening questioned the wisdom of lifting the 50% cap on faith-based admissions to new faith schools in England. We're urging the Department for Education to pay attention to her words and rethink its plans to lift the cap.

Instead of pressing ahead the government, along with the UK's devolved administrations and local authorities, should roll back religious groups' influence in schools. If you haven't yet expressed your support for our campaign, please do so by following the links below. Thank you.


News & Opinion


NSS: government must listen to Greening on faith-based admissions

The NSS has said the government must reconsider expanding faith-based school admissions after a former education secretary's criticisms.


Faith schools: why reducing the harm isn’t enough

We can mitigate the harm caused by faith schools in plenty of ways. But after the launch of the No More Faith Schools campaign,... Read More »


Religion a major source of tension in Britain, poll finds

The NSS has said policy makers must avoid dividing people by religion after a poll found it is a major source of tension in Britain.


Official report recommends amending abortion law in NI

The NSS has welcomed a report which has recommended allowing abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities in Northern Ireland.


Danish bid to create age of consent for genital cutting set to fail

An attempt to outlaw the cutting of healthy children's genitals in Denmark is set to fail, despite expert medical opinion.


Row over ‘discriminatory, unproductive’ SACRE members in south Wales

The NSS has restated its call for the abolition of local religious education committees amid complaints over a committee in south Wales.


Sign the national petition: No More Faith Schools

Our petition asks the education secretary and the education ministers of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to support an inclusive education system, free of religious discrimination and proselytisation, with No More Faith Schools. Please click here to sign.


Write to your MP: No More Faith Schools

We have a form and template letter which make it easy to ask your MP to support an inclusive, secular education system.


Other news

The all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims is asking for evidence on adopting "a working definition of Islamophobia". It's inviting submissions from statutory and non-statutory organisations. This tweet has details of the questions it's asking and how to respond.

Peers have voted to keep a key EU human rights charter as part of British law.

To get all the latest news and views on secularism from the media in your inbox every morning, you can sign up to receive your daily media briefing.


Read elsewhere


Time to repeal European blasphemy laws

By Gary McLelland, on his own blog

The chief executive of the International Humanist and Ethical Union explains why blasphemy laws must be repealed in a speech to the European Parliament.


The stark differences in how the Trump and Obama administrations talk about human rights

By Annalisa Merelli, for Quartz

The US State Department has published its first human rights report under the Trump administration. The rights deemed worthy of promotion and protection appear to have been trimmed.


Quotes of the week

"Fanatical and deluded."
Mr Justice Hayden describes the Christian Legal Centre's adviser to the family of sick toddler Alfie Evans

"The bishop's apparent anger and energy might have been more productive at the time if it had been put into more serious investigation of allegations, as opposed to hostile rejection."
Simon Collins, a solicitor representing survivors of abuse in care homes run by a Catholic order, criticises archbishop Mario Conti at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

See our quotes of the week archive...


Essays of the week

Don't mention the Others
By Roy Fisher, for Slugger O'Toole

A study of the way census data is constructed and reported in Northern Ireland shows that it's almost impossible to opt out of the 'two communities' model, which assumes everyone is either a Protestant or a Catholic.

Israel's weakening secularism
By Zvi Bar'el, for Haaretz

Religion itself is becoming Israel's raison d'etre.


NSS speaks out

Our chief executive Stephen Evans discussed school integration in Northern Ireland on Cool FM's Downtown News. He also talked about the link between tradition and religious privilege on BBC Radio Kent.

Our defence of a coroner in north London who refuses to prioritise work for religious reasons was featured in Criminal Law & Justice Weekly.

A feature by John Ware in Standpoint referred to our research on the number of schools which require children to wear hijabs (though it did not explicitly name us).


Support our work

Please support our work so we can make the case for a fairer secular democracy for all.


Events coming up this week


Edinburgh Secular Society meeting

Date: Sunday 29 April 2018

Time: 2pm-4pm

Venue: The Waverley Bar (upstairs bar)

Discussion on topics including:

- To what extent should we 'respect' religions?
- Why do the religious assume ownership of death?... 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 »


Get your daily media briefing

Keep on top of secularist issues with our daily collection of news and commentary from across the media, now available in your inbox. Click here to subscribe.


NSS scholarship deadline

Applications for the current round of the NSS scholarship close on 1 May. The scholarship exists to support students who conduct research relevant to secularism and the promotion of human rights. Click here to learn more.


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