Nobody should be disadvantaged or privileged because of their beliefs, gender or sexual orientation
We campaign for a secular state, and welcome dialogue and co-operation with any religious or non-religious groups who support this aim. We are affiliated to the National Secular Society. We have explained the most important points below.
Anti-discrimination legislation must be applied universally without exception
Faith schools, which are between 90% and 100% publicly funded, are nevertheless not required to observe anti-discrimination legislation when it comes to employing their staff and admitting pupils. They are able to discriminate on the grounds of staff members’ beliefs and sexual orientation, and the (declared) beliefs of potential pupils’ parents.
There should be one law for all, made by democratically elected representatives
We oppose the reservation of seats in the House of Lords for Church of England bishops. This is undemocratic and unrepresentative of the various beliefs found in the United Kingdom today. We support organisations such as ‘One Law for All’ in their ‘no sharia law’ campaign.
Freedom of speech should not be restricted by religious considerations
The right to express one’s opinion is an essential part of a democracy. Religious doctrine should not be protected from robust criticism on the grounds that this would “cause offence”, or for any other reason. We oppose any form of blasphemy law. This includes ‘back door’ attempts to stifle freedom of speech, such as the current loosely worded Public Order Act. Oxford Humanists strongly opposes attempts to place religious sensibilities above freedom of expression.
Publicly funded schools should teach ALL religions, and explain the universe using science
Religious education should educate pupils in a broad range of beliefs, including non-religious philosophies, not indoctrinate them with a single faith. Pupils should be taught to understand how the world works using established science, including the principles of evolution by natural selection.
Lobbying by the NSS and the BHA has caused the British government to ban the teaching of creationism/’Intelligent Design’ as legitimate scientific theories and in 2014 as a result of their /our efforts, evolution has been added to the draft primary National Curriculum in England, while Free Schools now have to teach evolution but are precluded from teaching pseudoscience.
Religious organisations should not use state-funded services to promote their own agenda
We are concerned that the outsourcing of public services such as counselling may allow some religious groups to use these services to promote their own philosophy. For example, we believe it would be entirely inappropriate for Catholic groups to run public contraception or abortion advice services, given the entirely one-sided views held by the Catholic Church on these matters. We also campaign for humanist chaplains in our hospitals and the military
“Religious freedom” should not be used as a justification for cruelty; we support compassion in farming and animal management
Humane slaughter legislation in the UK currently allows exceptions to stunning requirements, for “religious reasons”. Both the RSPCA and British Veterinary Association have condemned slaughter without stunning as very cruel. We support the BVA’s view that all animals should be stunned before slaughter, and that any un-stunned meat sold in the UK should be clearly labelled as such.