All posts by secularism

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Ep 18: Remembrance Day | Clerical Abuse



In this week’s episode, Emma Park is joined by the NSS’s Megan Manson and Chris Sloggett to discuss the Church of England’s privileged role in Remembrance Sunday. Is it right that the church should lead the service of remembrance at the Cenotaph? Does the C of E represent modern Britain? Will Britain continue to remember if the ritual of remembrance is tied up with religion?

Emma then speaks to Keith Porteous Wood, president of the NSS, about the society’s campaign to expose institutional abuse in the Catholic Church. Is the Vatican making a genuine effort to tackle clerical abuse? If not, why not? And how far is similar abuse a problem in the Church of England and other religious organisations?

Follow Emma on Twitter: @DrEmmaPark

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vG8uFzesJOQ&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

The Church of England’s privileged role in Remembrance Sunday and other ceremonies – NSS view

https://www.secularism.org.uk/ceremonies/

‘Remembrance Sunday should not be dominated by religion’ – Dan Snow

https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2014/11/remembrance-sunday-should-not-be-dominated-by-religion

The Cenotaph

https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/104

‘By the Grace of God’ shows the need to hold the Catholic Church accountable on child abuse

https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2019/10/by-the-grace-of-god-shows-the-need-to-hold-the-catholic-church-accountable-on-child-abuse

The NSS’s submission to the UN Human Rights Council, 18th September 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5ysn0r7PA0&feature=youtu.be

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

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Ep 17: Thought for the Day | RE in Wales



In this week’s episode, Emma Park is joined by Chris Sloggett and Helen Nicholls to discuss whether BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day should still be exclusively for “speakers from the world’s major faiths”. John Humphrys, former presenter of the Today programme in which Thought for the Day is featured, recently criticised it as ‘discriminatory’.

Emma also speaks to Stephen Evans and Alastair Lichten about a consultation on the reform of sex and religious education launched by the Welsh government this month. Proposals include making both subjects compulsory for all children regardless of their parents’ beliefs; and changing their names, with sex education being replaced by ‘Relationships and Sexuality Education’, and RE by ‘Religions and Worldviews’.

Follow Emma on Twitter: @DrEmmaPark

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6Z_Gey3ht8&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

Reform Thought for the Day: the NSS’s position

https://www.secularism.org.uk/thought-for-the-day/

Thought for the Day – BBC Radio 4

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00szxv6

John Humphrys criticises Thought for the Day

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/10/scrap-discriminatory-thought-for-the-day-says-former-presenter/

Welsh government considers ending the right to withdraw from RE and RSE: the NSS’s position

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/10/welsh-government-considers-ending-right-to-withdraw-from-re-and-rse

‘Ensuring access to the full curriculum’: the Welsh government’s consultation

https://gov.wales/ensuring-access-full-curriculum

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

Support the podcast, share with a friend and leave a five star review everywhere you can.


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Ep 16: Operation Christmas Child | Faith schools



In this week’s episode, Emma Park speaks to Megan Manson about Operation Christmas Child, a programme that encourages schoolchildren and youth groups around the UK to send Christmas shoeboxes to children in developing countries. Those sending the shoeboxes may not be aware that they are being used as part of a conversion drive by an evangelical Christian charity, Samaritan’s Purse. The case raises the question of whether ‘the advancement of religion’ should still be a charitable purpose.

Emma then speaks to Alastair Lichten about the NSS’s revelation that 20,000 children have been assigned to faith schools in the state sector this year despite their parents opting for a non-faith school as their first choice.

The episode also features highlights from our 2019 Bradlaugh Lecture. Assistant head Andrew Moffat defended inclusive education in his talk ‘No Outsiders: Reclaiming Radical Ideas in Schools’.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIQHMg3_wsY&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

Does Operation Christmas Child benefit the public?

https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2019/09/operation-christmas-child-does-its-charity-benefit-the-public

Samaritan’s Purse Mission Statement

https://www.samaritans-purse.org.uk/who-we-are/

Charities Act 2011, section 3: List of charitable purposes

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/25/section/3

Complete videos of the NSS’s Bradlaugh Lectures

https://www.secularism.org.uk/bradlaugh-lecture.html/

20,000 children sent to faith schools against parental preferences in 2019

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/09/20000-children-sent-to-faith-schools-against-parental-preferences

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

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Ep 15: ‘Islamophobia’ definition | Criticising infant circumcision



Emma Park speaks to Stephen Evans, CEO of the NSS and Chris Sloggett, communications officer, about the NSS’s opposition to a definition of ‘Islamophobia’ which was proposed by a parliamentary group in November 2018.

Chris and NSS campaigns officer Megan Manson also join Emma to discuss two recent rows relating to infant circumcision.

Megan highlights a court case in which a Nigerian Christian woman, Martina Obi-Uzom, was given a suspended sentence for having an infant boy circumcised without his mother’s consent. And Chris discusses a speech by the chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, in which he asked secularists and Humanists to stop campaigning against faith schools and infant circumcision.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U28virLevfM&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

The NSS’s criticism of the APPG’s definition of Islamophobia

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/05/islamophobia-definition-unfit-for-purpose-say-campaigners

Concerns that the definition of Islamophobia would have a chilling effect on free speech

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/08/islamophobia-definition-curtails-free-speech-campaigners-warn

The NSS’s position on anti-Muslim bigotry

https://www.secularism.org.uk/hate-speech/position-statement-on-anti-musli.html/

Islamophobia Defined – the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/599c3d2febbd1a90cffdd8a9/t/5bfd1ea3352f531a6170ceee/1543315109493/Islamophobia+Defined.pdf

Islamophobia: An Anthology of Concerns – essays critical of the APPG’s definition collected by Civitas, including one by the NSS

https://www.civitas.org.uk/publications/islamophobia/

The NSS’s concerns over the lenient sentencing of Martina Obi-Uzom in the forced circumcision case

https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2019/09/a-woman-is-convicted-over-circumcision-what-happens-next

The NSS’s response to Chief Rabbi Mirvis’s request that secularists stop campaigning against religious privileges

https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2019/09/the-chief-rabbi-has-made-an-anti-democratic-attempt-to-shut-down-criticism

The speech by Chief Rabbi Mirvis

https://www.facebook.com/ChiefRabbiMirvis/posts/2303906899738431

Forthcoming NSS events

https://www.secularism.org.uk/events.html

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

Support the podcast, share with a friend and leave a five-star review everywhere you can.


Ep 14: End compulsory worship | Education update



In this episode, Emma Park speaks to the NSS’s Head of Education, Alastair Lichten, about the Society’s ongoing campaign against collective worship in schools. This is followed by a brief update on the NSS’s other campaigns in education, and its new resource for schools, Exploring Secularism.

It is, surprisingly, still a legal requirement in England and Wales that state schools practise some form of collective religious worship every day. Emma and Alastair discuss what the law is, how it is put into practice by different schools, the impact which it has on parents and children who do not want to participate, and what the NSS is doing to change the situation.

Our apologies for some handling and background noise on this episode. We hope to have it sorted out by the next recording.

Follow Emma Park on Twitter: @DrEmmaPark

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Q_CJMDoR5I&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

The NSS’s campaign against compulsory collective worship in schools, with some statistics:

https://www.secularism.org.uk/end-compulsory-worship/

The NSS’s proposal for inclusive secular assemblies without an element of directed worship:

https://www.secularism.org.uk/end-compulsory-worship/inclusive-secular-assemblies-and.html

Information about the NSS’s annual Bradlaugh Lecture:

https://www.secularism.org.uk/bradlaugh-lecture.html

The NSS’s Autumn Bulletin:

https://www.secularism.org.uk/publications.html?tag=NSS+Bulletin&year=&submit=Search

Exploring Secularism a new resource for schools developed by the NSS:

https://exploringsecularism.org

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today:

https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

Support the podcast, share with a friend and leave a five star review everywhere you can.


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Ep 13: Religious appointees | Campaigning roundup



Chris Sloggett spoke to NSS head of education Alastair Lichten about our new report Religious Reps: Unrepresentative, Unnecessary and Unjustified. The report makes the case for ending the requirement on all Scottish local authorities to include religious appointees on their education committees. They discussed the report’s findings and recommendations and next steps for the campaign.

Campaigns officer Megan Manson also joined to discuss work the NSS has been doing on vaccinations, blasphemy laws and Jewish schools which severely restrict their families’ private lives.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlAIuFqIeF8&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

End religious appointees on Scottish education committees, NSS says https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/08/end-religious-appointees-on-scottish-education-committees-nss-says

Public Health England changes vaccination advice after NSS lobbying https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/08/public-health-england-changes-vaccination-advice-after-nss-lobbying

Jewish school may severely restrict families’ IT use, says DfE https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/08/jewish-school-may-severely-restrict-families-it-use-says-dfe

NSS urges government to review its language on blasphemy laws https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/08/nss-urges-government-to-review-its-language-on-blasphemy-laws

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

Support the podcast, share with a friend and leave a five star review everywhere you can.


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Ep 12: Circumcision | No Outsiders



Chris Sloggett spoke to NSS chief executive Stephen Evans and campaigns officer Megan Manson about the recent BBC documentary ‘A cut too far?’ and the ethics of ritual infant male circumcision. Did the documentary go far enough and is the tide turning against this abusive practice? Also in this episode our head of education Alastair Lichten spoke with Andrew Moffat, creator of the inclusive education resource ‘No Outsiders’ and speaker at our upcoming Bradlaugh Lecture.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jKa0ED12Y8&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Notes

Bradlaugh Lecture 2019 | No Outsiders: Reclaiming Radical Ideas in Schools https://www.secularism.org.uk/no-outsiders.html

End non-consensual religious surgery https://www.secularism.org.uk/religious-surgery/

A Cut Too Far? Male Circumcision https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0006wj8

Male circumcision needs to be seen as barbaric and unnecessary – just like female genital mutilation https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/male-circumcision-fgm-baby-child-abuse-body-rights-medical-hygiene-a9011896.html

Let’s face facts: FGM has something to do with religion https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2019/03/lets-face-facts-genital-cutting-has-something-to-do-with-religion/

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

Support the podcast, share with a friend and leave a five star review everywhere you can.


Ep 10a: Bonus content | Behind the scenes at Secularism 2019



Here’s a little bonus content from Secularism which was originally going to be in our post conference review.

In this episode, Emma Park, a freelance writer and NSS volunteer, interviewed five of the Conference speakers to explore some of the issues raised by their talks in further detail. Some of these were a bit more wide ranging than the topic. Everyone’s views are their own and do not necessarily represent those of the NSS.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGOcRbOUkoU&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Nick Cohen (00:51), political journalist, on the parallels between political and religious extremists, the lack of leadership from liberal centrists in British politics today, and the need for secularists to be self-critical and form political alliances to resist extremists:

‘Generalisations are the basis of identity politics and breaking down identity politics is the road to freedom.’

Izzy Posen (08:04), President of the Bristol Free Speech Society, on the damage caused by universities’ excessive tolerance of the extremist student groups trying to shut down free speech on campus:

‘It’s an alliance of Islamists and far leftists, and by Islamists I don’t mean Muslims, I mean Islamists who have a political ideology based out of imposing Islamic values on Britain … [These groups] unite in their hatred for the West.’

Pragna Patel (17:41), Director of Southall Black Sisters, on how secularists can challenge the claim by ethnic minority leaders to speak on behalf of an entire community, even those who may disagree with them:

‘Our organisation has always challenged community leaderships, because they have never spoken on behalf of women, they have never spoken on behalf of gay and lesbian communities’.

Rachel Laser (25:13), President of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, on the threats to freedom of expression and other human rights in the US from right-wing evangelicals, and how to ‘burst the pimple’ of such extremism:

‘Today religious freedom in America is more about the right to discriminate, or licence to discriminate, than it is about the right to be able to practise your religious observances.’

Yasmin Rehman (34:06), Member of the NSS Council, on the challenges of being a secular British Muslim, changes in the UK government’s treatment of minorities in recent years, and the compatibility of Islam with secularism:

‘If you look at a religious text that was written a very very long time ago, it will endorse things that we as a society wouldn’t condone … I want to be able to practise my faith, but I also want to be able to challenge my faith, or any other, when it comes to abuses of human rights’. 

Links

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

Find our more about the conference, including speaker profiles and videos: https://www.secularism.org.uk/secularism-2019.html

Bradlaugh Lecture 2019 | No Outsiders: Reclaiming Radical Ideas in Schools https://www.secularism.org.uk/no-outsiders.html

Support the podcast, share with a friend and leave a five star review everywhere you can.


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Ep11: Religious charities | Inclusive relationship and sex education



In episode 11, Chris Sloggett spoke to Megan Manson about charities which exist only to promote religion and whether these or religious charities which do harm are in the public benefit. Chris also spoke to and Alastair Lichten about protests by religious reactionaries against LGBT inclusive education and what the NSS is doing.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVmWU1jwrXE&feature=youtu.be

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

Links

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

For the public benefit? The case for removing ‘the advancement of religion’ as a charitable purpose: https://www.secularism.org.uk/charities/charity-report

Faith free sex education: https://www.secularism.org.uk/sex-education/

Bradlaugh Lecture 2019 | No Outsiders: Reclaiming Radical Ideas in Schools https://www.secularism.org.uk/no-outsiders.html

Support the podcast, share with a friend and leave a five star review everywhere you can.


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Ep 10: Secularism 2019 | Conference review



In episode 10, Helen Nicholls, Megan Manson and Alastair Lichten joined Chris Sloggett for a review of our recent conference (Secularism 2019: Reclaiming Religious Freedom). They discuss some of the speakers, key takeaways and how these will continue to influence our work going forward.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/tlyczsqLx9I

Transcripts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/transcripts

 Links

Make a stand for freedom, fairness and human rights by adding your voice to the call for a secular democracy. Join the National Secular Society today https://www.secularism.org.uk/join

Find out more about the conference and speakers: https://www.secularism.org.uk/2019