Author: Alastair Lichten

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. Read More »

Tags: Education, Faith Schools, Admissions

We can’t build a shared society around segregated schools

Posted: Thu, 15 Mar 2018 by Alastair Lichten

Our education and schools officer examines the education proposals in the Government's new integration strategy and argues that they should lead to a wider discussion of children's rights and facing up to the religious segregation rife in education. Read More »

Tags: Education, Faith Schools, Community Cohesion, unregistered schools, Home schooling

Home schooling debate must prompt wider discussion of children’s rights

Posted: Thu, 30 Nov 2017 by Alastair Lichten

As supporters of a new Bill aim to see home schooling in England registered for the first time, education and schools campaigner Alastair Lichten says children's independent rights must receive greater focus. Read More »

Tags: Education, Home schooling, Unregistered schools

Big ideas for religious education?

Posted: Thu, 23 Nov 2017 by Alastair Lichten

The latest report into the problems with religious education reiterates the need to start with a fundamental examination of the subject's purpose. But, Alastair Lichten wonders, do the proposals go far enough? Read More »

Tags: Education, Religious education

The 'war on Christmas' is coming

Posted: Fri, 10 Nov 2017 by Alastair Lichten

The myth of a culture war on Christmas may be comical and its claims endlessly debunked, but its promotion is part of a campaign for Christian supremacy, argues Alastair Lichten. Read More »

Tags: Christmas, 'Militant' Secularism, 'Christianophobia', Christianity

Secularism and National Libraries Week #LibraryLetters

Posted: Thu, 05 Oct 2017 by Alastair Lichten

Ahead of Libraries Week 2017 Alastair Lichten argues that libraries' values of free expression and pluralism illustrate how a vibrant secular democracy should work. Read More »

Tags: Secularism, Libraries

Casework focus: community schools and religious takeovers

Posted: Thu, 11 May 2017 by Alastair Lichten

Parents and staff regularly contact the NSS over concerns related to religious influence in their schools. Campaigns officer Alastair Lichten looks at a typical example of the casework we receive and what lessons can be learned.

A small rural primary school... Read More »

Tags: Education, Academisation, Casework focus

The human rights of women and secularism go hand in hand

Posted: Wed, 08 Mar 2017 by Alastair Lichten

On International Women's Day 2017 NSS campaigns officer Alastair Lichten reflects on the intersection of gender and religious privilege, and what the secularist movement can learn from IWD.

The theocratic mindset has always had a particular obsession with policing... Read More »

Tags: Gender Equality, Equality & Human Rights, Secularism

President Trump: American theocrat

Posted: Tue, 31 Jan 2017 by Alastair Lichten

Donald Trump may be America's latest 'atheist president', but his presidency has put Christian Nationalism at the heart of its policy agenda.

Modern theocracy whether of the Islamist, Christian Dominionist or Hindu Nationalist variety is about belief, but it... Read More »

Tags: USA, Religious right

Advice for parents wanting to give the evangelical Operation Christmas Child shoebox scheme a wide berth

Posted: Wed, 12 Oct 2016 by Alastair Lichten

Alastair Lichten looks at the ethical, educational and efficiency case against the Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child shoebox scheme. Read More »

Tags: Charity, Samaritans Purse, Casework focus, Christmas

Book review: 'Christian Nation' by Frederic C. Rich

Posted: Thu, 21 Jul 2016 by Alastair Lichten

Alastair Lichten explores the themes of identity, resilience and redemption in Frederic C. Rich's counterfactual dystopian novel and the defence of secular democracy. Read More »

Tags: Church & State, USA, Reviews

When is a community school not a community school?

Posted: Wed, 06 Jul 2016 by Alastair Lichten

Religious organisations are pushing for an increased role in non-religious community schools. This seriously risks blurring the line between faith and community schools, writes Alastair Lichten. Read More »

Tags: Education, Faith Schools, Church of England, Academisation

Faith in public services?

Posted: Thu, 02 Jun 2016 by Alastair Lichten

An increased role for religious organisations in the provision of public services would be disastrous for both the public and faith sectors, argues Alastair Lichten.

The Oasis Foundation recently launched a report arguing that the aspirations of the 'Big Society'... Read More »

Tags: Public Services

Religious education reform: mistakes of the past must be avoided

Posted: Fri, 04 Dec 2015 by Alastair Lichten

Despite many RE teachers doing their best under difficult circumstances, a growing consensus now recognises that religious education in schools needs a rethink. Alastair Lichten looks at the latest report calling for reform.

This week saw the launch of REforReal... Read More »

Tags: Education, Religious education

When is a faith school not a faith school?

Posted: Wed, 08 Jul 2015 by Alastair Lichten

Academisation and the 'grey area' between faith and non-religious schools may allow even more schools to assume a religious character by stealth. To avoid this, we need a much clearer definition of 'faith school', argues Alastair Lichten.

The 1944 Education... Read More »

Tags: Education, Academisation

‘Spiritual influence’, democracy and free expression

Posted: Tue, 19 May 2015 by Alastair Lichten

Religious voting blocs and sectarian and divisive politics harm society and can undermine democracy. But are laws that potentially restrict free expression the answer? Alastair Lichten considers the charge of 'undue spiritual influence'.

Many student unions... Read More »

Tags: Politics, Freedom of Expression, Community Cohesion

Cardinal Nichols’ conflation of secularism and religious persecution is self-serving and shameful

Posted: Sun, 03 May 2015 by Alastair Lichten

It's grossly distasteful to equate the persecution of Christians in the Middle East with the discomfort felt by some Christians in Britain at having to provide services in a non-discriminatory manner, argues Alastair Lichten.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols's recent... Read More »

Tags: 'Militant' secularism, Christianity, Middle East

Council prayers: none so deaf as those that will not hear

Posted: Tue, 17 Mar 2015 by Alastair Lichten

Those who regard the imposition of religious values and practices in secular spaces as benign should be more aware of their privilege, argues Alastair Lichten.

You may regret clicking this link. If you did you may well have heard 10 seconds of silence. The... Read More »

Tags: Council Prayers, Religious privilege

Britain First – foot soldiers of a ‘Christian Nation’?

Posted: Mon, 08 Dec 2014 by Alastair Lichten

When mainstream politicians endorse the 'Christian Nation' narrative they feed both Muslim and Christian persecution complexes and pander to the far-right, argues Alastair Lichten.

Elements in the current government like to promote the dog whistle message that... Read More »

Tags: Christianity, Islam, Community Cohesion, Discrimination, Multiculturalism

Operation Christmas Child

Posted: Thu, 13 Nov 2014 by Alastair Lichten

Every year the National Secular Society is contacted by parents upset to discover that a festive charitable project in their children's school is unwittingly making them tools for evangelisation. Alastair Lichten looks at some of their concerns.

It seems to... Read More »

Tags: Faith Schools, Christmas, Christianity, Charity, Samaritans Purse

Apostasy and blasphemy laws: an affront to human rights

Posted: Wed, 01 Oct 2014 by Alastair Lichten

Iran's execution of Mohsen Amir-Aslani on apostasy charges illustrates the injustices caused by such laws in the Middle East and around the world, argues Alastair Lichten.

This week, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran... Read More »

Tags: Blasphemy, Equality & Human Rights, Pakistan, Ireland, Iran, Saudi Arabia

A contested subject: religious education and faith schools

Posted: Tue, 23 Sep 2014 by Alastair Lichten

Reports of a Cabinet row over plans to require faith schools to teach more than one religion at GCSE level show that even baby steps towards greater objectivity in religious education will face fierce opposition, argues Alastair Lichten.

Secularists have had... Read More »

Tags: Education, Faith Schools, Religious education