National Secular Society

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The National Secular Society (NSS) is a British organisation that campaigns for secularism in the UK; to get religion out of public life. The NSS opposes the promotion of religion in public schools; sees no need for public taxation to help finance the Church of England, its Welsh, Scottish, or Northern Irish counterparts; feels bishops of the Church of England deserves no special place in the House of Lords; and campaigns for the widespread acceptance and adoption of secular values. The NSS is one of two secularist groups in the United Kingdom working nationally, the other being Humanists UK. Both groups are members of the Humanists International.[1]

The NSS opposes religious bodies being able to force their opinions onto wider society in areas such as divorce, euthanasia, and stem cell research.[2][3]

In 10 February 2012, the NSS and an atheist councillor took Bideford Town Council to the High Court over prayers held before meetings. The High Court ruled the town council was breaking the law, specifically the Local Government Act 1972, and prayers should stop.[4] This ruling will apply to all councils in England and Wales.[4] The ruling was welcomed by the British Humanist Association,[5][6] but criticised by many Christians,[7][8][9] including Christian groups, MPs, and (surprise, surprise!) the Daily Fail.[10]

In February 2019, the NSS released a 48-page report titled For the Public Benefit? The case of removing 'the advancement of religion' as a charitable purpose.[11] It argues that "the advancement of religion" should not be "regarded as an inherent public good", and charities should be required to "demonstrate a tangible, secular public benefit under one of the other charitable purpose headings".

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External links[edit]


  1. Our members and Associates. Humanists International. Archived from the original on May 12, 2021.
  2. "Vatican Furious Over Stem Cell Decision." National Secular Society. 2006 July 28. [1].
  3. "How the Church of England plans to up its influence on public life in Britain." National Secular Society. 2009 January 30. [2].
  4. 4.0 4.1 Council Prayers unlawful rules High Court. National Secular Society. February 10, 2012. Archived from the original on November 11, 2020.
  5. BHA welcomes High Court ruling on council prayers. Humanists UK. February 10, 2012. Archived from the original on March 24, 2021.
  6. British Humanists welcome High Court ruling against council prayers. International Humanist and Ethical Union. February 10, 2012. Archived from the original on April 15, 2015.
  7. Bryant, Chris. Chris Bryant: How sanctimonious and uptight do you have to be to object to these prayers? Independent. February 11, 2012. Archived from the original on June 5, 2021.
  8. Rawlinson, Kevin. Christians outraged after court rulings 'push religion to margins'. Independent. February 11, 2012. Archived from the original on April 24, 2017.
  9. Hear our prayer. The Telegraph. February 10, 2012. Archived from the original on May 15, 2021.
  10. Drury, Ian. Christianity under attack: Anger as major court rulings go against British worshippers. Daily Mail. February 11, 2012. Archived from the original on December 25, 2020.
  11. For the public benefit? The case for removing ‘the advancement of religion’ as a charitable purpose National Secular Society. Archived from the original on May 30, 2021.