Friday, September 28, 2007

Express your views on public bodies

reposted from: NSS Newsline today

Letter From Nick Siragher:
In answer to this Friday's Newsline headline imploring readers to 'do your part' I (and I'm sure other readers) would like advice about what more one can do. Joining the NSS is one small step (I joined a while ago) please can you direct me to where and how I can give practical support.

Terry Sanderson (NSS President) replies: Nick, we do all need to do our part, and
the best way is to take the message of secularism and its benefits into your community.
I am constantly imploring members to get involved in the institutions that we all share – local authorities, health trusts, school governing bodies – get elected to public office, get on committees and that's where the battle can be most usefully fought by members.
Christians – and increasingly Muslims – have discovered that you have to be part of the system if you want to make a difference
. The communities secretary Hazel Blears said in her speech the other day that
minorities need to put up for local councils – she didn't mention secularists, so I'll mention them here.
We must do what she urges other "communities" to do. The "faith communities" certainly know instinctively that they can gain significant influence this way.

The NSS is here to fight the general battle, to do the research, to lobby nationally, and to offer information and support when confrontations occur. But
in the end, it is the decision-makers we are trying to influence – and we want more of them to be secularists!
We want MPs who will speak out against religious encroachment, we want local councillors who will stand firm against the privileges routinely doled out to religious groups, we need school governors who will say no when religion makes yet more inroads.
Join political parties and make your views known, join a trade union and become an active participant stressing a secular perspective.
Start a secularist group in your college, university, school or local area. This is how we can all do our bit, and make the biggest impact. Whatever committee you're on, whatever position of authority you might hold – see how you can bring a secularist consciousness to it. The story of the headmaster who wants a secular school in this week's Newsline shows how individuals can use their positions to fight for the cause. NSS member Sheila Kinsella showed how a 'member of the public' can do their bit when she put a pertinent question to Education Secretary Ed Balls in the
Independent this week.
The NSS will encourage and help you in any way that it can.
It's up to all of us to go out there and put our principles into practice. It takes commitment, time and energy – but you did ask.

From John Stuart:

It's all very well writing to each other, we all agree. Write to local and national Press.

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