Saturday, December 15, 2007

History of National Secular Society (NSS)

reposted from: see link above via
Chris Street comments are in bright green;
highlights in yellow blockquotes.

Since 1866 when NSS was formed it has been an a Freethought (Atheist?) organisation

1841: During a lecture at Cheltenham, George Holyoake is provoked and trapped into blasphemy and sent to Gloucester gaol for six months (for saying the Deity should be put on half pay).


a movement George Holyoake issues a statement of secularist doctrine from what he calls the Central

Secular Society, London, proclaiming (1) science as the true guide of man, (2) morality as secular,

not religious, in origin, (3) reason the only authority, (4) freedom of thought and speech, and (5) that

owing to the "uncertainty of survival" we should direct our efforts to this life only.

1861. It is only fair to add that a case

can be made for secularists getting on with the job without unduly antagonising their potential

supporters with such shocking heresies as Atheism and the denial of survival after death, not to

mention the exposure of Bible absurdities.

1866. Secularism becomes national in character. The NATIONAL

SECULAR SOCIETY is formed. Charles Bradlaugh is President. Its principles are:

to promote human happiness, to fight religion as an obstruction, to attack the legal barriers to

Freethought: and its objects are Freethought propaganda, parliamentary action to remove disabilities,

secular schools and instruction classes, mutual help and a fund for the distressed.”

1881. The NSS acquires the support of a new organ, The Freethinker, which, edited by G. W. Foote, is identified with NSS aims.

It is militantly anti-Christian and employs the weapon of ridicule.

1915. G. W. Foote (b. 1850) dies; many tributes are published in The Freethinker and other

journals. Chapman Cohen becomes editor of The Freethinker and President of the N.S.S.

1927. Prof. Sir A. Keith, in his Presidential Address to the British Association, attacks the Christian

doctrine of Special Creation and defends evolution. Bertrand Russell

lectures for the NSS at Battersea Town Hall on Why I am not a Christian: the lecture is published.

1929. The N.S.S and R.P.A. issue a joint circular containing a three-point questionnaire to election

candidates on secular education, the blasphemy laws, and the B.B.C. South Place Chapel is sold

and Conway Hall erected.

1955. Broadcasting history is made, when Mrs. Margaret Knight, of Aberdeen University proposes a

Scientific Humanist, as opposed to a Christian, conception of morality ; her subsequent

book takes its title from her talks, Morals without Religion. Mrs. Knight embarks on a series of propagandist lectures

in various parts of the country; she supports The Freethinker and joins the NSS.



Barbara Smoker was President NSS (1971 - 1996)
Denis Cobell President (1996 - 2006)

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