NSS Opinion

Pakistan’s elections will mean little for minorities and secularists

Pakistan’s elections will mean little for minorities and secularists

Posted: Wed, 25 Jul 2018 by Basit Mahmood

Religious hardliners have pushed both frontrunners in Pakistan's elections to the right – and neither is prepared to stand up to them, says Basit Mahmood.

Change is in the air according to those campaigning in Pakistan's elections, as Imran Khan campaigns... Read More »

Tags: Pakistan, Blasphemy, Religious freedom

The Church of England provided the perfect cover for Peter Ball’s offending

The Church of England provided the perfect cover for Peter Ball’s offending

Posted: Mon, 23 Jul 2018 by Richard Scorer

Opening statement by lawyer Richard Scorer of Slater and Gordon, also an NSS vice president, at the IICSA inquiry's hearings into the case of Peter Ball, the former bishop of Gloucester.

Chair and members of the panel: Mr O'Donnell and I represent five survivors... Read More »

Tags: Church of England, Child Abuse

Church schools are faith schools. Pretending otherwise is dishonest

Church schools are faith schools. Pretending otherwise is dishonest

Posted: Fri, 20 Jul 2018 by Alastair Lichten

The Church of England's pretence that 'its' schools aren't faith schools is a dishonest attempt to avoid association with the unpopularity of faith-based schooling, and at odds with their actual policy, argues Alastair Lichten.

When the term 'faith school'... Read More »

Tags: Education, Church of England, Faith Schools

Sectarian schooling is nothing to celebrate

Sectarian schooling is nothing to celebrate

Posted: Fri, 13 Jul 2018 by Stephen Evans

Integrating schools isn't a magic bullet to end sectarianism, but no serious attempt to address the issue can ignore the role of religiously segregated schools, argues Stephen Evans.

Last week, as Catholic worshippers were leaving Saturday evening Mass in Glasgow... Read More »

Tags: Faith Schools, Sectarianism

I was concerned about proselytisation on a school trip – and the school listened

I was concerned about proselytisation on a school trip – and the school listened

Posted: Thu, 12 Jul 2018 by A Parent

Sometimes concerns regarding religious interference in education can be easily resolved, simply through clear and polite conversations with the school. A parent shares her recent experiences working together with her school to stop educational trips to a church... Read More »

Tags: Education, Evangelism in schools

Ten years on from the abolition of blasphemy, free speech still needs defending

Ten years on from the abolition of blasphemy, free speech still needs defending

Posted: Wed, 11 Jul 2018 by Stephen Evans

Marking ten years since the criminal offence of blasphemy was abolished in England and Wales, Stephen Evans argues that the freedom to speak critically about beliefs others hold sacred is far from assured.

This week marks the 10-year anniversary of the abolition... Read More »

Tags: Freedom of Expression, Islam

Seven secularist steps that would strengthen democracy in the UK

Seven secularist steps that would strengthen democracy in the UK

Posted: Wed, 04 Jul 2018 by Megan Manson

In recognition of National Democracy Week 2018, Megan Manson reflects on what still needs to be changed to make the UK a truly democratic, secular state.

This year's National Democracy Week is special because it also commemorates the 90th anniversary of the... Read More »

Tags: Church & State, Secularism, Church of England, Faith Schools, Council prayers, Head of state, One law for all, Freedom of Expression

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

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

Posted: Mon, 25 Jun 2018 by Richard Scorer

Some clerics want exemptions from reporting requirements on abuse when it's revealed in the confessional. Accommodating their demands would undermine efforts to tackle child abuse, says Richard Scorer.

The controversy over the seal of confessional in clerical... Read More »

Tags: Child Abuse, Church of England, Catholic Church, Church & State

A Christian theatre company promoted abstinence in my daughter’s school. It was worth challenging it

A Christian theatre company promoted abstinence in my daughter’s school. It was worth challenging it

Posted: Mon, 25 Jun 2018 by A Parent

A parent says it was important to challenge a school's decision to invite a Christian charity to perform a show with a pro-abstinence message under the guise of sex education.

Recently I received a letter from my daughter's school (a local authority-run comprehensive... Read More »

Tags: Education, Sex education, Evangelism in schools

The British people deserve better than the fawning over Michael Curry

The British people deserve better than the fawning over Michael Curry

Posted: Thu, 21 Jun 2018 by Chris Sloggett

As a poll shows public ambivalence to a much-hyped sermon at the royal wedding, Chris Sloggett says the fuss around Michael Curry has distracted from an opportunity to ask critical questions about religion's public role.

In March the Independent Inquiry into... Read More »

Tags: Church & State, Church of England

It’s worth knowing why more Muslims are leaving faith behind

It’s worth knowing why more Muslims are leaving faith behind

Posted: Tue, 19 Jun 2018 by Fiyaz Mughal

A new book reveals a substantive movement of people choosing to leave Islam. Fiyaz Mughal, its co-editor, reflects on the stories it tells and the importance of mutual respect and empathy between Muslims and ex-Muslims.

I have worked with communities for over... Read More »

Tags: Ex-Muslim, Islam

God, Guys and Guns. A review of The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

God, Guys and Guns. A review of The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

Posted: Thu, 14 Jun 2018 by Emma Park

Emma Park on what Margaret Atwood's modern dystopian classic (and its TV adaptation) tells us about the relationship between theocracy, gender and self-identity.

The Handmaid's Tale is Margaret Atwood's contribution to the twentieth-century tradition of dystopian... Read More »

Tags: Reviews, Theocracy

Bishop Rachel’s prejudiced thinking highlights the problem of state-sponsored religion

Bishop Rachel’s prejudiced thinking highlights the problem of state-sponsored religion

Posted: Wed, 13 Jun 2018 by Stephen Evans

The bishop of Gloucester is entitled to question whether atheists can truly have deep love or hope, writes Stephen Evans. But the state shouldn't indulge the view that the religious are morally superior to others.

The bishop of Gloucester drew criticism this... Read More »

Tags: Church & State, Church of England, Disestablishment, Christianity

Religion and politics – the discrepancy at the heart of our schools

Religion and politics – the discrepancy at the heart of our schools

Posted: Tue, 12 Jun 2018 by Alastair Lichten

Schools are forbidden from promoting, showing favouritism to or discriminating on the grounds of partisan politics. Alastair Lichten asks why partisan religious beliefs are treated so differently.

Sections 406 and 407 of the Education Act 1996 (applying to... Read More »

Tags: Education, Politics, Faith Schools

Just how equal is marriage now?

Just how equal is marriage now?

Posted: Sun, 10 Jun 2018 by Megan Manson

After the NSS revealed the extra hassle and expense involved in arranging same-sex and non-religious weddings in England and Wales, Megan Manson calls for marriage to be made a civil affair in the eyes of the law.

The institution of marriage has radically transformed.... Read More »

Tags: Marriage, Marriage Equality

New guidance on the right to withdraw from RE in Wales – response

New guidance on the right to withdraw from RE in Wales – response

Posted: Wed, 06 Jun 2018 by Alastair Lichten

New guidance on managing parents' right to withdraw their children from religious education in Wales is largely common sense, says Alastair Lichten. But it downplays the confessional nature of some RE teaching.

The right to withdraw from RE is a difficult area... Read More »

Tags: Religious education, Wales

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

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

Posted: Wed, 06 Jun 2018 by Chris Sloggett

The brewer Greene King has taken the Saudi Arabian flag down from its World Cup displays after complaints from some Muslims that an Islamic symbol shouldn't be in a place which serves alcohol. Chris Sloggett responds.

Do you find the Saudi Arabian flag offensive?... Read More »

Tags: Freedom of Expression, Blasphemy, Islam

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

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

Posted: Wed, 23 May 2018 by Terry Sanderson

Thirty years after the government banned local authorities from 'promoting' homosexuality, Terry Sanderson reflects on the hysteria that prompted Section 28, the fear it caused and the backing religious fanatics gave it.

The struggle for gay rights in this... Read More »

Tags: LGBTQ rights, Equality & Human Rights

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

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

Posted: Fri, 18 May 2018 by Stephen Evans

The decision not to allow more faith-based admissions to new free schools in England is a big win, says Stephen Evans. But the expansion of faith schools is the wrong response to Britain's growing religious diversity.

The government's U-turn on its manifesto... Read More »

Tags: Education, Faith Schools, Fifty percent cap

How secularism cuts the Gordian knot in education

How secularism cuts the Gordian knot in education

Posted: Fri, 18 May 2018 by Megan Manson

Faith schools' approach to admissions and sex education reminds us that religious groups' interests often conflict with those of society. Megan Manson says the only answer to this is to separate education from religion.

When we tie religion and state together,... Read More »

Tags: Education, Faith Schools, Sex Education

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

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

Posted: Tue, 01 May 2018 by Chris Sloggett

Politicians have hung a coroner who stood up to religious groups out to dry, says Chris Sloggett. And they've revealed how foolish we are to indulge individualistic demands for state services to accommodate religion.

When Mary Hassell isn't appearing in court,... Read More »

Tags: Public services

Faith schools: why reducing the harm isn’t enough

Faith schools: why reducing the harm isn’t enough

Posted: Mon, 23 Apr 2018 by Alastair Lichten

We can mitigate the harm caused by faith schools in plenty of ways. But after the launch of the No More Faith Schools campaign, Alastair Lichten says the long-term battle is over the fact faith groups run schools at all.

I spent a lot of Friday reading though... Read More »

Tags: Education, Faith Schools, Admissions

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

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

Posted: Fri, 13 Apr 2018 by Stephen Evans

Teachers from the ATL union have voted to demand a clampdown on parents selectively withdrawing their children from RE. But Stephen Evans says the right to withdraw should only be scrapped once the subject is reformed.

A teaching union warned recently that... Read More »

Tags: Education, Religious education

Bishops must be accountable – and not just to themselves

Bishops must be accountable – and not just to themselves

Posted: Fri, 23 Mar 2018 by Richard Scorer

Abridged version of the winding-up speech by lawyer Richard Scorer of Slater and Gordon, also an NSS vice president, at the IICSA inquiry's hearings into the handling of child sexual abuse in the diocese of Chichester.

This has been the first opportunity for... Read More »

Tags: Child Abuse, Church of England

What comes after The Silence of the Liberals?

What comes after The Silence of the Liberals?

Posted: Fri, 16 Mar 2018 by Chris Sloggett

Nick Cohen has skewered the hypocrisy of leftists who apologise for Islamic intolerance, says Chris Sloggett. To defeat it we must assert the value of free speech as the most precious right which citizens share.

"I'm as interested in what isn't said as what... Read More »

Tags: Freedom of Expression, Islam, Reviews

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