Category Archives: Discussion

Help protect free speech in Scotland

Ep 29: Scotland’s new blasphemy law?



Where do you draw the line between safeguarding people’s protected characteristics, and guarding their right to freedom of speech? The new Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, introduced in April purports to protect groups defined by reference to protected characteristics, including ‘religion’ or ‘perceived religious affiliation’. But some have argued that the proposed legislation will chill free speech about religion.

In this episode, Emma Park is joined by Neil Barber, communications officer at the Edinburgh Secular Society, along with the NSS’s Stephen Evans, to give a detailed analysis of the language of the bill relating to offences of ‘stirring up hatred’. They argue the Bill is likely to make it all too easy to shut down valid debate about religion.

While the bill will abolish the common law offence of blasphemy against Christianity in Scotland, there are good reasons for thinking that the new statutory offences will simply be a multi-faith version of the former.

Follow Emma on Twitter: @DrEmmaPark

Browse all NSS podcasts: https://www.secularism.org.uk/podcast

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSlpdKk8m_g&feature=youtu.be

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

Notes

Help us protect free speech in Scotland: https://www.secularism.org.uk/free-expression/scottish-hate-crime-bill.html

Scotland’s new hate speech law will be too censorious: https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2020/05/scotlands-new-hate-speech-law-will-be-too-censorious

Does Scotland’s justice minister realise the reach of his own hate crime bill? https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2020/06/does-scotlands-justice-minister-realise-the-reach-of-his-own-hate-crime-bill

Minister to correct record on hate crime bill after NSS intervention: https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2020/06/minister-to-correct-record-on-hate-crime-bill-after-nss-intervention

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 28: RE in Wales: a chance for fundamental change



How much progress will the Welsh government make with its proposed reforms to RE? In this episode, Emma Park speaks to Stephen Evans, CEO of the NSS, and Alastair Lichten, head of education, for an update.

Encouragingly the subject’s name is to be changed to ‘Religion, Values and Ethics’, to reflect a more pluralistic and critical approach. But the proposed abolition of parents’ right to withdraw their children is more concerning. Faith schools will still be able to teach RVE ‘in line with the tenets of their faith’, but will be obliged to offer a secular alternative if parents expressly choose it.

Do these proposals go far enough? And should religious education continue to be a separate subject that is compulsory for all students up until 16? Join Emma and her guests for comment and analysis.

Follow Emma on Twitter: @DrEmmaPark

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD2syE26heQ&feature=youtu.be

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

Notes

NSS response to RVE proposals in Wales: https://www.secularism.org.uk/21st-century-re-for-all/rve-wales.html

Will Wales lead the way in reforming RE? – Stephen Evans, 2 June 2020: https://medium.com/@stephen.evans_42820/will-wales-lead-the-way-in-reforming-re-415cf3049fa6

Should lessons on sex and religion take parents’ wishes into account? –– Emma Park, 12 March 2020: https://life.spectator.co.uk/articles/should-lessons-on-sex-and-religion-take-parents-wishes-into-account/

NSS podcast, Episode 17: RE in Wales: https://www.secularism.org.uk/podcast/2019/10/ep-17-thought-for-the-day-re-in-wales

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 23: The NSS at the UN: interview with Josephine Macintosh



In this week’s episode, Emma Park speaks to Josephine Macintosh, a solicitor and vice president of the National Secular Society, about her work representing the NSS at the United Nations.

Earlier this year, Josephine attended the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council at Geneva. She made submissions on behalf of the NSS on its objections to male circumcision, proposed reforms to Italian law to counter child abuse in the Catholic Church, and the need for the UK to legislate explicitly against caste discrimination.

She discusses the content of these submissions, the process of presenting them at the UN and lobbying for support, and why it’s vital for the NSS to be represented at international level. She also talks about the constraints that the coronavirus is likely to place on the UN’s human rights work.

Follow Emma on Twitter: @DrEmmaPark

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/zdfQeKP8Tj8

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

Notes

43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session43/Pages/43RegularSession.aspx

Protect all children from ritual genital cutting, NSS tells UN

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2020/03/protect-all-children-from-ritual-genital-cutting-nss-tells-un

NSS raises Italy’s response to child abuse in Catholic Church at UN

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2020/03/nss-raises-italys-response-to-child-abuse-in-catholic-church-at-un

The Vatican Is Talking About Clerical Abuse, but Italy Isn’t – New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/22/world/europe/italy-catholic-church-pope-francis-abuse.html

Outlaw caste discrimination

https://www.secularism.org.uk/outlaw-caste-discrimination/

NSS urges UN to push government to pass law on caste discrimination

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2020/03/nss-urges-un-to-push-government-to-pass-law-on-caste-discrimination

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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Secularist Manifesto election graphic

Ep 19: General election special



This week, Emma Park is joined by Stephen Evans and Chris Sloggett for a general election special. During the campaign the NSS is calling on parties to adopt 11 secularist pledges on subjects such as education and free speech. But which of these are on the parties’ agendas? Will any of them make it onto the statute book any time soon? And is religion stifling political debate? Join Stephen, Chris and Emma for comment and analysis.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/7mwTBwyy6Xo

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

Notes

Election 2019: a secularist manifesto

https://www.secularism.org.uk/election-2019.html

Don’t let religious sectarianism tear our democracy apart

https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2019/11/dont-let-religious-sectarianism-tear-our-democracy-apart

The definition of ‘Islamophobia’ and its criticisms

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

Angela Rayner on Twitter: “I’ve never put our faith schools at risk and never will.”

https://twitter.com/AngelaRayner/status/1196856260186066944

Labour’s ‘race and faith manifesto’

https://action.labour.org.uk/page/-/party-documents/Race%20&%20Faith%20Manifesto%202017.pdf

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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Red microphone

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

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Red microphone

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

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Red microphone

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

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Red microphone

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