Tag Archives: activism

Ep 27: Unregistered (illegal) schools



In this episode, Emma Park discusses unregistered faith schools, particularly in the Hasidic community with Eve Sacks, a member of the Jewish anti-extremist organisation Nahamu.

Eve has spent years engaging with members of the ultra-orthodox community in London. They discuss issues in registered independent schools and the prevalence of unregistered schools where boys aged 13 to 18 are sent to receive religious instruction with little or no secular education. There is also evidence that boys who do not perform well in their studies receive corporal punishment. The result is that they leave school utterly unequipped to participate in civil society.

Efforts to tackle these ‘schools’ and similar abuses of children’s rights in the registered independent sector have been slow going, while members of the Hasidic community who want a different education for their children often experience severe pressure to conform.

After the interview, Emma speaks to Alastair Lichten, head of education at the NSS, to reflect on the fascinating insights provided by Eve, and the NSS’s position on unregistered and faith schools.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Nb4LRNtk1o&feature=youtu.be

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

Notes

NSS supports plans to regulate unregistered schools: https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2020/05/nss-supports-plans-to-regulate-unregistered-schools

Corporal punishment still being used in Orthodox Jewish schools, inquiry hears – Telegraph, 21st May 2020: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/05/21/corporal-punishment-still-used-orthodox-jewish-schools-inquiry/

‘The Missing?’ by Eve Sacks, 11 July 2019: http://nahamu.org/the-missing/

Illegal Faith Schools: https://www.secularism.org.uk/unregistered-schools/

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 25: American religious exceptionalism and Covid-19



This episode is about secularism in the USA, its basis in the American constitution, and its opposition by the religious right. The NSS’s Alastair Lichten interviews Andrew Seidel, an attorney at the Freedom From Religion Foundation. They discuss the narratives of religious exceptionalism and persecution propagated by some on the Christian right – and other tactics which they have used over many years to build up their political influence. Andrew argues that the Christian right use a misinterpretation of the First Amendment to justify religious gatherings during the pandemic. He also reveals what organisations like the FFRF are doing to challenge them.

Alastair is then joined by Emma Park to reflect on similarities and differences between the place of religion in the US and UK, and what British secularists can learn from organisations like the FFRF.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-itavtk6Vv8

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

 Notes

The Freedom From Religion Foundation: https://ffrf.org/

Andrew Seidel – attorney, activist and atheist: http://andrewlseidel.com/

Secular attitudes and laws are assets against coronavirus https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2020/04/secular-attitudes-and-laws-are-assets-against-coronavirus

Why religious freedom stokes coronavirus protests in the U.S., but not Canada https://theconversation.com/why-religious-freedom-stokes-coronavirus-protests-in-the-u-s-but-not-canada-136557

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 20: Lee and Lizanne Harris – compulsory worship



In this episode, Emma Park speaks with Lee and Lizanne Harris about their experience of the collective worship requirement in schools.

The Harrises recently initiated judicial review proceedings against the primary school attended by their children. They challenged its decision to provide no alternative to a proselytising Christian assembly once a week conducted by representatives of the local C of E church.

Lee and Lizanne discuss their children’s experiences of these assemblies, what happened when they withdrew them, and the school’s failure to provide a secular alternative until they were forced to by the threat of legal proceedings.

The Harrises’ case may encourage other parents to speak up about concerns that their children will be indoctrinated if they participate in religious assemblies, and excluded from school life if they do not.

Watch this episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Oh0Sv2Je824

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

Notes

Lee Harris’s 2018 blog for the NSS

https://www.secularism.org.uk/opinion/2018/12/my-childrens-school-has-become-christian-by-default

C of E trust to introduce alternative to worship after legal challenge

https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2019/11/coe-trust-to-introduce-alternative-to-worship-after-legal-challenge

More information and guidance from the NSS on collective worship: https://www.secularism.org.uk/end-compulsory-worship/

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 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

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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

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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

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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

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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