National Secular Society

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The National Secular Society is a British political pressure group that claims to defend "the rights of non-believers from the demands of religious power-seekers"[1] and to advocate secularism, which it has stated includes "the complete separation of Church and State and the abolition of all privileges granted to religious organisations". It was founded in 1866 by Charles Bradlaugh who was its first president. Bradlaugh stood for Parliament and won, but did not get to take his seat for many years as he was not allowed to make a secular affirmation and was not allowed to make a religious oath because of his widely-known atheism.

The National Secular Society has strongly opposed faith schools and the requirements for collective worship in the 1944 Education Act,[2], against prayers at council meetings,[3] helped organise protests against the 2010 state visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom,[4] and campaigned for the BBC Radio 4 segment "Thought for the Day" to contain a mixture of religious and non-religious contributions. It has also argued against allowing religious "opt-outs" from human rights and equality legislation, a position broadly followed by the Labour government in the passage of the Equality Act 2010.[5]


  1. National Secular Society, About us
  2. National Secular Society, Religion in Schools
  3. National Secular Society, Council Prayers
  4. National Secular Society, Protest the Pope
  5. National Secular Society, Equality and Human Rights