Linked with Mina Ahadi – Iran.
Homepage: Those strongly in favour of faith schools often cite the rights of religious parents, as taxpayers, to ensure that their child has State schooling within a school that promotes their faith. However, in areas where faith schools are over-subscribed, there is a real risk that non-religious parents, who are also taxpayers, do not have the same rights of access. Also, should the number of faith schools substantially increase, many parents may lose the right to ensure that their child goes to a community, non-faith, school. Parental choice, although a mantra of the present government, is not without cost: one parent’s choice (and their ability to exercise it) has an impact on the choice of others. Ultimately, with regard to the most popular schools, choice is exercised far more by the schools than by the parents. (Position Statement on Faith Schools, Association of Teachers and Lecturers).
Welcome, excerpt: … The only way to prevent the kind of religious power-seeking that leads to conflict is to make both religious discrimination and religious privilege constitutionally impossible.
We need a secular constitution that will:
- End the privileged input of religious bodies to policy making and law-making;
- Keep all public services free from religious control so that that they remain equally available to all on the same terms;
- Abolish the established church and all its privileges (including 26 bishops in the House of Lords);
- Put an end to the divisiveness of publicly funded religious schools by making them open to all without discrimination on grounds of religion, or lack of it, and bringing them under local authority control;
- Abolish blasphemy and similar repressive laws, rather than extend them.
Religious influence in Government has not been higher in living memory. The rise of fundamentalist religion of all shades has the potential to seriously erode hard-won freedoms … (full text).
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Contact: National Secular Society NSS, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL, Tel: +44 (0)20 7404 3126, Fax: +44 (0)870 762 8971, Email for general enquiries, website.
About NSS: We want a society in which all are free to practise their faith, change it or not have one, according to their conscience. Our belief or lack of it should neither advantage nor disadvantage. Religion should be a matter of private conscience, for the home and place of worship; it must not have privileged input into the political arena where history shows it to bring conflict and injustice.
The National Secular Society is the leading pressure group defending the rights of non-believers from the demands of religious power-seekers. We campaign on a wide range of issues, including religious influence in the government, the disestablishment of the Church of England, the removal of the Bench of Bishops from the House of Lords and for conversion of religious schools (paid for by the taxpayer) to community schools, open to all.
- We fight to protect free expression from attacks by religious groups, often keen to restrict comment about, and examination of, their activities;
- We want the blasphemy law to be abolished and artistic expression to be protected from religious censors;
- We lobby the BBC to reduce the amount of religious propaganda paid for by licence-payers, very few of whom are interested;
- We want to ensure that human rights always come before religious rights, and to fight the massive exemptions religious bodies are granted from discrimination laws that everyone else has to observe. The NSS was prominent in the campaign to frustrate religious bodies’ attempts to opt out of the Human Rights Act – we fought to limit exemptions in the employment discrimination legislation and other equality law.
Even now the government seems anxious to increase religious involvement in public life. Each increase disadvantages those who have no religion.
Only by secularising our institutions can we ensure that no religious ideology can dominate and discriminate against others.