Shraga Stern accuses the National Secular Society of “see[ing] fit to dismiss basic religious freedoms” (Letters, 7 February). Secularism seeks to defend the absolute freedom of belief, and protect the right to manifest religious belief insofar as it does not impinge on the rights and freedoms of others.

Parents’ rights to secure an education consistent with their religious beliefs are not absolute and must be balanced against society’s duty to safeguard children’s independent interests. All pupils should have the right to access education that will give them clear and accurate information on topics that are so important to their wellbeing. This includes learning that LGBT people and same-sex relationships exist.

The government is perfectly entitled to regulate the way education is delivered. Religious schools currently have a legal right to maintain their faith ethos. This doesn’t mean they can demand exemptions from democratically agreed school standards whenever they have a religious objection.
Stephen Evans
Chief executive officer, National Secular Society

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