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National Secular Society

Newsline 22 September 2017

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We've been reminded again that undue religious influence damages children's education this week. A major report says religious education in England needs "strategic, urgent intervention". This, along with the news that many secondary schools are not meeting their obligations to offer the subject, has bolstered our case that we need a major rethink over RE. Just one view of how it could change is outlined by Dr Geoff Teece in one of our essays of the week.

Meanwhile it's emerged that dozens of independent faith schools have repeatedly failed to meet national standards. But education is just one of the fronts we're campaigning on. We've asked councillors in Lancashire to stop forcing unstunned halal meat on thousands of schoolchildren and asked the government to outlaw caste discrimination. At a local and national level, we're making the case that everyone should follow the same law, and holding policy makers to account when they abandon that principle.


News & Opinion


NSS urges councillors to stop forcing non-stunned halal meat on pupils

The NSS has written to councillors in Lancashire urging them to stop imposing unstunned meat on school pupils.


RE needs “strategic, urgent intervention”, says independent report

Religious education in England faces "a perilous future" unless it is subject to "strategic, urgent intervention", according to a report.


Ofsted repeatedly fails dozens of independent faith schools

Dozens of small independent faith schools have repeatedly failed to meet Ofsted standards in the last three years.


Government must outlaw caste discrimination, says NSS

The NSS has promised to "actively support" efforts to outlaw caste discrimination after taking part in an official consultation on the issue.


Schools sidelining RE, survey finds

The NSS has called for a 'fundamental rethink' about religious education after research showed that many English schools are not offering the subject.


Lessons from the frontline of Islamic fundamentalism

Megan Manson explores autobiographies by two Muslim secularists whose lives have been directly intertwined with Islamist... Read More »


The legacy of decades of abuse in a Catholic children's home

Hundreds of children died at Smyllum Park, a home in Lanarkshire run by the Catholic Church between 1864 and 1981. As an... Read More »


It's that time of year again... September

We're barely into Autumn, and already we're hearing members concerned about Operation Christmas Child schemes. While every year we could add new examples of this charity's unsuitability the fact is that the concerns over their inappropriate proselytization, homophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry have been around for years.

If your school, workplace or society is promoting this scheme and you'd like some background information for challenging it, or finding better alternative, please click here. We've pulled together links to ours and others' work on this, and created a new template letter.


Essays of the week

Religious education needs a rebrand – it should be fascinating, challenging and hard
By Dr Geoff Teece, for TES

The complex nature of religious and non-religious world views cannot be packaged up in neat boxes ready for pupils to unpack, remember and regurgitate. Here's one way we could redesign RE.

I've watched Wales become a hotbed of Islamic extremism
By Shazia Awan, for The Independent

A Welsh Muslim says it is hard to articulate uncomfortable truths about the place you live in – but after the Parsons Green attack she feels it is necessary.


Quotes of the week

"We love to think of Britain as progressive. It would be disgraceful if the government bows to pressure and does not act on this key area of human rights."
Sir Anish Kapoor, Mumbai-born British sculptor, lends his support to the campaign to outlaw caste discrimination

"The consciousness of the church arrived a bit late."
Pope Francis engages in understatement when discussing the Catholic Church's efforts to deal with child abuse

"Five years in prison for an opinion? How just is that?"
Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi's wife, tells the UN about her husband's treatment so far in Saudi Arabia


NSS speaks out

Our executive director Keith Porteous Wood explained how the NSS had helped to bring a senior French cardinal to trial on charges of failing to report child sex abuse in Christian Today. He was also quoted extensively in The Hindu, challenging the Labour party to back a caste discrimination law. Keith and campaigns director Stephen Evans discussed the number of schools sidelining RE on LBC and several BBC local radio stations. Vice-president Alistair McBay had a letter published in The Scotsman explaining some of the history behind Smyllum orphanage in Lanarkshire, where decades of child abuse took place.


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