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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline 25 May 2018


Last weekend's much-hyped royal wedding has turned public attention to the settlement which gives the Church of England a special place in the UK constitution. In an interview as he prepared for the wedding the archbishop of Canterbury said disestablishment would not be a "disaster", prompting debate over an issue we've been campaigning on for 152 years.

Then this week the Constitution Unit at UCL called for reform of the coronation service to dilute Anglicanism's role. The report makes a number of welcome suggestions, but we'll be pressing politicians to go further. State ceremonies should be secular and inclusive.

Meanwhile Ireland's referendum on abortion is taking place today. The pressure for liberalisation has given hope to those who wish to challenge religious influence in public policy. But as you'll see below there's a need to continue pressing politicians across Britain to end their pandering to organised religion. If you agree that this is important work, we hope you'll consider lending us your support. Thank you.


News & Opinion


Welby: disestablishment “a decision for parliament and people”

The NSS has again called for the separation of church and state after the archbishop of Canterbury said it wouldn't be a "disaster".


Dilute Anglican presence in next coronation, says UCL report

The next coronation should feature secular oaths and a civil ceremony alongside the traditional Anglican one, a think tank has said.


Welsh faith schools will keep distorting sex education, NSS warns

Allowing Welsh faith schools to teach sex education through a religious lens will distort the subject and teach children... Read More »


Scottish government ‘committed to Catholic education tradition’

The NSS has criticised the Scottish government after a minister assured headteachers it was committed to providing Catholic education.


NSS reiterates call for abolition of chancel repair liability

The NSS has urged the Law Commission to recommend the abolition of a measure which requires landowners to pay for local church repairs.


Section 28 was a shameful piece of legislation prompted by fake news

Thirty years after the government banned local authorities from 'promoting' homosexuality, Terry Sanderson reflects on the... Read More »


Ofsted: curriculum at Jewish school restricted pupils’ development

An independent faith school may close after inspectors said it was not preparing students for life in modern Britain.


NSS: guidance for independent schools “strikes the right balance”

The NSS has broadly welcomed revisions to the Independent School Standards.


Acas issues guidance on religious discrimination at work

The arbitration service Acas has outlined its interpretation of equalities legislation regarding religion and belief discrimination.


Nationalist outrage in India after archbishop defends secularism

India's ruling Hindu nationalist party has criticised the archbishop of Delhi after he warned that secular democracy was under threat.


Latest from the No More Faith Schools campaign


NMFS campaign launches guide to challenging new faith schools

The No More Faith Schools campaign has launched a short guide to help supporters challenge the establishment of new faith schools.


Other news

An Australian court has found a Catholic archbishop guilty of concealing child sexual abuse in the 1970s. Philip Wilson, who is now archbishop of Adelaide, has become the most senior Catholic in the world to be charged and convicted of the offence.

Guernsey's parliament has voted down a bill to legalise assisted dying.

The counter-extremist think tank Quilliam has issued a report saying the lack of prosecutions for FGM in Britain is "a national scandal". You can download the report for free from Quilliam's website.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will not appoint any Labour peers that do not support abolishing the House of Lords, the party has said. The move could have implications for the future of the bishops' bench.

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.


Quotes of the week

"What I find so disturbing about this debate is the heavy hand of the pious upon it. Behind them stand the serried ranks of a church that has shown itself undeserving of the respect it still expects and demands. From child abuse scandals to the cruel and demeaning treatment of unwed mothers and their vulnerable children, to the hypocrisy of a celibate clergy (who were often anything but) pontificating on how women should think and behave, Catholicism has imposed a legacy of shame and denigration that, in its harshness and misogyny, is worse than medieval."
Rosemary Goring on the role of Catholicism in the Irish abortion referendum


"It's so important that the government recognises the mistakes it made and guarantees it won't make them again… If I'd had inclusive and compulsory sex education at school, I don't think I'd be HIV positive today."
Andrew Bates, who knew nothing about HIV until he was diagnosed with it aged 21, on the legacy of Section 28

See our quotes of the week archive...


Essays of the week

'End the secrecy and shame'
Editorial, for The Irish Times

Ireland's constitution is no place for abortion. Its eighth amendment describes a world of religious certainty and locks its people into it for perpetuity.


'Freedom of religion is not a licence to discriminate in the US'
By Ria Tabacco Mar, for The Economist

Businesses in America should not be allowed to refuse to serve minority groups and gay couples.


NSS speaks out

Our recent criticism of Surrey Police's evangelism was reported in Get Surrey, The Christian Times and Premier Christian Radio, where our CEO Stephen Evans also made a radio appearance to discuss it.

Stephen also appeared on LBC to discuss religious dress in the workplace.

Our recent Unsafe Sex report on sex education in English faith schools was mentioned in Indy100.


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