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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege


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Newsline: Best of 2018


Welcome this special edition of Newsline from the National Secular Society. To round off the year we've chosen 12 of our favourite blogs which we published on the NSS website in 2018 for you to enjoy.

We'd like to take this chance to thank everyone who has supported us this year and to wish everyone a happy and healthy new year.


Twelve of the best


Fundamentalists feel the Force of Star Wars

As the year opened Sabbatarians in Lewis were again claiming a right to impose their beliefs on others, including by banning screenings of Star Wars on Sundays. Megan Manson asked if they would make these demands if Jediism was a recognised religion.


It's time we all stood up to religious bullies

Amid a series of concessions to religious hardliners in January, Stephen Evans said those brave enough to resist their demands needed much more support.


Male circumcision is an issue of religious freedom - and should be prohibited as such

As lawmakers in Iceland considered a bill to end the ritual cutting of boys' genitals, Dr Marika McAdam said children should be protected from being irreversibly marked according to their parents' religious whims.


Faith schools: why reducing the harm isn’t enough

Alastair Lichten explained why the NSS had launched its No More Faith Schools campaign.


We’ll all suffer if we let religion dictate how public servants do their jobs

As politicians hung a coroner who stood up to religious groups out to dry, Chris Sloggett said it was foolish to indulge individualistic demands for state services to accommodate religion.


The government's U-turn shows the tide is turning against faith schools

Stephen Evans welcomed a government U-turn on allowing more faith-based admissions to new free schools in England. But he added that the expansion of faith schools was the wrong response to Britain's growing religious diversity.


It shouldn’t be normal for pubs to conform to blasphemy codes

In June a brewery decided to take the Saudi Arabian flag down from its World Cup displays, on the apparent basis that an Islamic symbol shouldn't be in a place which served alcohol. Chris Sloggett responded.


The seal of the confessional and child abuse: a religious privilege too far

As clerics demanded exemptions from reporting requirements on abuse which is revealed in the confessional, Richard Scorer said accommodating their demands would undermine efforts to tackle child abuse.


Stop reflexively saying yes to religious groups

As a series of public bodies pandered to demands from religious groups in September, Chris Sloggett said they should stop taking the line of least resistance.


Why are harmful charities registered at all?

Megan Manson said a revelation that Amazon funded extremist religious charities was just the tip of the iceberg, and the presumption that religion is a public good had created deep problems in the charity system.


European ruling that ‘religious feelings’ trump free speech is a dangerous development

In October the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Austria hadn't breached a woman's right to freedom of speech by convicting her for criticising the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Stephen Evans said the court had fundamentally undermined the right to free expression.


Unravelling the choice delusion

As we launched our report on faith-based impositions on school choice in England, Alastair Lichten said choice centred narratives mischaracterised the challenges facing families and public education's role in a diverse society.


Looking ahead to 2019: reclaiming religious freedom

Our centrepiece event of next year will be the Secularism 2019 conference in central London on Saturday 18 May. At the conference we'll discuss how to reclaim religious freedom, a qualified right that belongs to everybody, from those who commonly misuse the term.

Find out more and buy your tickets now.


Why we must reclaim religious freedom

There is an urgent case for resisting those who claim the mantle of 'religious freedom' without regard for others' rights and freedoms. Here's why our Secularism 2019 conference will be held under the tagline 'reclaiming religious freedom'.


NSS annual report 2018

Remind yourself of the work we've done in 2018 and the impact it's had by reading our annual report.


Support our work

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