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Reflecting on ‘A Manifesto for Secularism’
Savi Hensman’s blog | Posted 17 October 2014

A Manifesto for Secularism was recently launched at a conference in London. While the aim, to counter the religious right, is positive, I have reservations about some aspects.

A serious threat is indeed posed by groups and movements which use religion as a cover for hostility to democracy and human rights, including for women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The Manifesto rightly seeks to put the problem in its historical context.

It begins, “Our era is marked by the rise of the religious-Right – not because of a ‘religious revival’ but rather due to the rise of far-Right political movements and states using religion for political supremacy. This rise is a direct consequence of neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism and the social policies of communalism and cultural relativism.”

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Secular conference created a sense of imminent and momentous change – and women will be the driving force
Posted: Wed, 15 Oct 2014 14:53 by Terry Sanderson

The passion of feminist secular activists from around the world at a recent conference has inspired Terry Sanderson, who chaired a panel on religion’s role in the state, law and politics.

Last weekend’s conference organised in London by Maryam Namazie and her colleagues wasn’t like any other conference on secularism I’ve ever been to. It was a truly international event that made everyone there feel that they were engaged in a momentous worldwide call for change. It was just a start, but the passion generated was the kind that can move mountains.

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Manifesto for Secularism – Against the Religious Right
Tue, 14/10/2014 | London, UK – 14 October 2014

Secularism is vital for the defence of democracy, equality & human rights

“The launch of the Manifesto for Secularism is a challenge to the global rise of the Religious Right and its menacing values, which threaten women, LGBTs, atheists, minority faiths, apostates and many others,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

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Principles of secularism and equality must be defended
Posted: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:57 by Stephen Evans

Attempts to erode equality and undermine secularist principles must be challenged, argues Stephen Evans.

Those seeking to preserve or carve out additional privileges for Christianity in the UK appear buoyed by news that the Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched a call for evidence aimed at strengthening understanding of religion or belief in public life.

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There should be no embarrassment over challenging Muslim treatment of women, says Justice Minister
Thu, 31 Jul 2014

There should be no embarrassment over challenging Muslim treatment of women, says Justice Minister

Justice Minister Simon Hughes has said Britain should not be “culturally embarrassed” about challenging Muslims over the wearing of the veil or the segregation of women.
Simon Hughes, the Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties, said women and men must be allowed to sit together to “challenge people’s beliefs and practices” and take on Muslim “hardliners and fanatics” who oppose equality.

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Secular ethics is appropriate for 21st century: HH the Dalai Lama
Monday, 21 July 2014 14:36 Tenzin Jamchen, Tibet Post International

Dharamshala: – His Holiness the Dalai Lama was welcomed into the council chamber of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh (LAHDC) on 15 July, where His Holiness heard about the hardships the Ladakhi people have overcome and spoke of the importance of secular ethics in modern education.

The Chief Executive Councillor, Rigzin Spalbar gave a brief overview of the 18 year existence of the LAHDC. “Ladakh is a region of strategic importance which has led to an instability in the Ladakhi way of life” he said. He then explained that the life the Ladakhis led included an optimum use of resources and preservation of traditional values while also embracing modernity. He admitted that it was the concern for a greater local role in decision making in the year 1995 that led to the establishment of the LAHDC.

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US Supreme Court backs prayers during government meetings
Posted: Tue, 06 May 2014 | National Secular Society (UK)

US Supreme Court backs prayers during government meetings

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that opening public meetings with prayer does not automatically violate the Constitution’s ban on government endorsement of religion.
On a 5-4 vote the Supreme Court upheld the right of the town of Greece, New York, to open its meetings with mostly Christian prayers. The court found that sectarian prayer doesn’t violate the Establishment Clause, as long as no religion is advanced or disparaged, and residents aren’t coerced.

The court’s decision was criticised by Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, which sponsored the lawsuit, and campaigns for the preservation of the principle of church-state separation. He said the decision “relegated millions of Americans – both believers and nonbelievers – to second-class citizenship”.

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Why religions, too, would benefit from embracing secularism
Tue, 29 Apr 2014 | Terry Sanderson

In a debate at the Nottingham Secular Society on 28 April, National Secular Society president, Terry Sanderson, argued that the time has come for all religions to embrace secularism. These are his opening remarks:

I think one of the most poignant headlines I’ve seen recently was in a Pakistani newspaper. It said simply: “Christians call for secularism”.

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Diversity? No, the Law Society’s Sharia guidance has created division
Posted: Thu, 27 Mar 2014 13:00 by Charlie Klendjian

Diversity? No, the Law Society’s Sharia guidance has created division

Charlie Klendjian, secretary of the Lawyers Secular Society, argues that the Law Society, a secular organisation representing solicitors in a secular legal system, has gone beyond its remit and created division with its Practice Note on sharia wills.

A couple of weeks ago, on the front page of the Law Society Gazette, the Society’s former president and current chair of its equality and diversity committee Lucy Scott-Moncrief called attention to the “woeful underuse” of women’s talent in the legal profession (‘Brain drain’ fear as diversity stagnates, Gazette 10 March 2014).

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Sharia law is well and truly operating in the UK – thanks to the Law Society
Posted: Fri, 21 Mar 2014 09:38 by Sadikur Rahman

Sharia law is well and truly operating in the UK – thanks to the Law Society

Sadikur Rahman, of the Lawyers Secular Society, fears a practice note issued by the Law Society could compromise the Code of Conduct for solicitors and increase the application of Sharia law in the UK.

It was with incredulity that I saw this practice note issued by the Law Society last week.

Lawyers will know that practice notes issued by the Law Society are guidance on best practice for specific topics or areas of law.

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Secular activism conference – Professor Marion Maddox
Published on 4 Mar 2014 | Sydney Atheists

On Saturday the 22nd of Febuary Sydney atheists hosted the first conference for The Secular Coalition of Australia ( This first talk is by acclaimed author on secularism Professor Marion Maddox. Introduction by Sydney atheists president Steve Marton.

See You Tube

Secular Activism Conference 2014
Posted on February 27, 2014 by Jaye Christie

Led by our member group, the Sydney Atheists, SECOA held its first Secular Activism Conference on Saturday, Feb 22nd. Enthusiastic Aussie secularists joined us from as far afield as Newcastle, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. High quality speakers came from Ballina and Melbourne, as well as from Sydney.

Speakers for the first session, Professor Marion Maddox and Dr Cathy Byrne, provided an in depth account of Australia’s secular heritage, explaining how our founders set out to avert the ‘religious difficulty’ by creating an education system that was ‘free, compulsory and secular’.

Article no longer available

Lobbying Government in Australia
Posted 27 February 2014

On 22 February 2014 the Sydney Atheists Inc. & SECOA (Secular Coalition of Australia) hosted a Secular Activism Conference.  Guest speakers included:

  • Lyn Allison, former Australian senator and RSA Vice President ;
  • Prof. Marion Maddoxacademic and author of God Under Howard ;
  • Lara Wood, an activist parent who now co-ordinates a campaign against Special Religious Instruction in Victorian schools;
  • Cathy Byrne, a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Macquarie University with an interest in religious intrusion into State schools; and
  • Joe Kelly the principal at Cranbourne South Primary School in Melbourne, who axed Religious instruction from his school, gaining widespread media exposure.

Here are two documents provided by Lyn Allison as part of a workshop on lobbying:

SECOA Workshops Lobbying (1)

Tips on lobbying MPs (2)

Action Plan – SecularityUSA
Get Religious Bias Out of Government
Posted 12th January 2014

A project of Global Secular Organizing & Strategy (GSOS)


SecularityUSA is a specific, practical plan to return America to a secular government.

SecularityUSA will build an unprecedented grassroots operation – teaming religious people that support church-state separation and those in the secular community – working together to promote a more just, fair-minded, and positive government process.

We will implement a unique, unexpected strategy that will be instrumental in springboarding secularism to prominence and credibility in 2016, substantially diminishing the power of those who want to impose a religious bias in government.

Secular Charter
National Secular Society – UK
Posted 12th January 2014

The National Secular Society campaigns for the separation of religion and state and promotes secularism as the best means to create a society in which people of all religions or none can live together fairly and cohesively. The NSS sees secularism — the position that the state should be separate from religion — as an essential element in promoting equality between all citizens.

Our campaigning and policy objectives are guided by our Secular Charter.

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Québec’s Secular Charter
By Bradley Miller, December 9th, 2013

Québec wants to define itself in terms of a Christian past while setting a course for a secularism that is profoundly hostile to all religious believers.

When eighteenth-century ancestors of mine were, together with their entire village, forcibly resettled to Ukraine, they took with them a distinctive island culture. An important vehicle of this culture was their language—a medieval Swedish dialect preserved on the remote Estonian island that had been their home since the early Middle Ages.

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God’s Business
By Adele Ferguson | June 29–July 5, 2006 | BRW

Some religious organisations are taking advantage of lax taxation regulations,
to the cost of ordinary Australians.

Religion is big business in Australia.  If it were a corporation, it would be one of the biggest and fastest-growing in the country, accounting for more than $23 billion in revenue in 2005, employing hundreds of thousands of staff (salaried and volunteers) and wielding unsurpassed political and social clout.

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