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Secularism raises significant questions about how we balance freedom of, and from, religion with other rights. These are some of the most important questions which arise in all of the humanities, from religious and belief education to citizenship, and from the arts to history. Exploring Secularism provides teachers with the material they need to ask these questions in an informed way. It encourages students to explore a range of answers and to develop their own.

Secularism raises significant questions about how we balance freedom of, and from, religion with other rights. These are some of the most important questions which arise in all of the humanities, from religious and belief education to citizenship, and from the arts to history. Exploring Secularism provides teachers with the material they need to ask these questions in an informed way. It encourages students to explore a range of answers and to develop their own.
Exploring Secularism: Freedom of Expression Factsheet (Theme 2)
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Exploring Secularism: Freedom of Expression Factsheet (Theme 2)

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Freedom of expression is a key value in a pluralist society and in the development of secularism. Restrictions on free expression – both formal and informal – are common features of religious privilege and discrimination. The modern secularist movement in the UK first emerged in reaction to restrictions on critical speech about religion and the state In these resources students will explore a variety of legal, philosophical, political and moral viewpoints on freedom of expression. They will contrast and critique different theories on the limits of free expression through thought experiments, exercises and real world examples. The key questions in this theme are: What is free speech? What is blasphemy? What is hate speech? Should there be limits to free speech?
Religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination (part 2) – What are they?
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Religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination (part 2) – What are they?

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Concepts of religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination are central to secularism. They come up in other resources and can be brought up in almost any discussion of religion in public life. Resources 1.10 and 1.11 address these directly and encourage students to engage with different viewpoints on these central terms. The resource contains three stimuli; the first defines these key terms, the second provides examples and the third compares privilege and discrimination. The exercises assess students’ background knowledge and invite discussion of the examples and differing opinions on the key concepts. Key questions: What are religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination? Learning outcomes (Basic) Students should demonstrate they can: Understand the basic principles of religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination. Identify and comment on the role of religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination in simplistic examples of conflicts involving religion and the rights of others. (Advanced) In addition to the basic learning outcomes, students should demonstrate they can: Critically reflect on the principles of religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination, drawing on a range of outside examples. Offer nuanced comments on the role of religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination in a range of social debates involving religion and the rights of others.
Exploring Secularism: A guide for teachers
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Exploring Secularism: A guide for teachers

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WHY EXPLORE SECULARISM? Secularism raises significant questions about how we balance freedom of, and from, religion with other rights. These are some of the most important questions which arise in all of the humanities, from religious and belief education to citizenship, and from the arts to history. Exploring Secularism provides teachers with the material they need to ask these questions in an informed way. It is not a manifesto of answers. It encourages students to explore a range of answers and come to some of their own. The Commission on Religious Education has recognised secularism as a key concept in the study of religion and worldviews. By using Exploring Secularism, you and your students will join a long tradition of people from all faiths and none, of artists and authors, of politicians and philosophers, judges and theologians, all of whom have grappled with these debates. The issues considered in Exploring Secularism are growing ever more relevant as British society considers how best to respond to growing religious diversity, growing non-belief, political instability and intolerance. Exploring Secularism: A guide for teachers sets out the principles behind all of our resources it offers advice and a secularist perspective on the key questions.
Exploring Secularism: Art & Literature Factsheet (Theme 5)
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Exploring Secularism: Art & Literature Factsheet (Theme 5)

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The arts and literature have played an important role in every human rights and social change movement including secularism. Societal discussions such as the right balance between freedom of and from religion are often explored through the arts. Different arts and literature can both reinforce religious privilege and discrimination, and challenge it through providing expression for new ideas and promoting tolerance.
Exploring Secularism - Glossary
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Exploring Secularism - Glossary

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This resource makes use of the glossary to explore a basic understanding of key terms and their use in real life conversations about secularism, religion and belief. This can be done either in class using the slideshow or as individuals or groups using the worksheets. This resource can be used to round out a study of Theme 1 – Core Principles, as a quick overview or for reference. Key questions: What is secularism? Is secularism a form of atheism, agnosticism or humanism? What are religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination? Learning outcomes (Basic) Students should demonstrate they can: Understand and correctly use a range of key terms related to secularism. (Advanced) In addition to the basic learning outcomes, students should demonstrate they can: Understand and use a range of key terms related to secularism in a variety of contexts. Explore how competing understandings of key terms impact debates regarding secularism, religion and the rights of others.
Exploring Secularism: Core Principles Resource Pack (Theme 1)
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Exploring Secularism: Core Principles Resource Pack (Theme 1)

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What is secularism? How do secularists and their critics address freedom of and from religion? The Core Principles Resource Pack features nineteen original resources, presentations, exercises and stimuli for students to explore secularism’s basic political philosophy of separation, freedom and equality. Through real world examples, different viewpoints and thought experiments, students will understand, apply, contrast and critique secularist reasoning. They’ll form their own opinions and understand others’ on what secularism is, where it comes from and why it is supported or opposed. Students will explore how religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination affect our lives and the decisions we make.
Exploring Secularism: Religion & Society Factsheet (Theme 4)
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Exploring Secularism: Religion & Society Factsheet (Theme 4)

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People of all faiths and none and in all societies have considered how people’s beliefs impact on them and the rights of others. Secularism seeks to create a framework in which the rights of all in society are protected. Many pressing social issues concern different interpretations of religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination. In these resources students will contrast and critique different viewpoints on the role of secularism and religion in society. They will explore key questions: What is a secular democracy? What is a theocracy? Are secularism and pluralism in conflict? Are we a ‘Christian country’? Should we have a state church? Should religion influence government? What is secularisation? Should government ceremonies be Christian? Should religions be exempt from animal welfare laws? Should religions run public services? What about social action by religious groups? What role should religion have in schools? What role should worship have in schools? What are ‘British Values’? What role should religion have in healthcare? How should Religious Education be taught?
Exploring Secularism: History Factsheet (Theme 6)
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Exploring Secularism: History Factsheet (Theme 6)

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Some of the most important events and changes in British history have involved debates over the role of religion in the state and the lives of individuals. Our modern concepts of freedom of and from religion have evolved over time. Important changes have been secularisation and the evolving relationship between church and state.
How do secularists think about decisions? (Part 2) – The Lemon test
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How do secularists think about decisions? (Part 2) – The Lemon test

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This resource uses the example of the “Lemon test” (an American legal principle) to further explore the basics of secularist decision making. The stimulus provides the history and basic principles of the Lemon test, along with theoretical examples. The exercise invites discussion and reflection on these examples of secularist reasoning. Key questions: How do secularists think about decisions? Learning outcomes (Basic) Students should demonstrate they can: Understand how secularists think about decisions which affect the rights of others. Reflect on how this process of thinking about decisions impacts on a range of simplistic examples involving religion and the rights of others. Compare and contrast this approach to their own and others. (Advanced) In addition to the basic learning outcomes, students should demonstrate they can: Extrapolate how this process of secularist thinking about decisions would impact views on a range of social issues involving religion and the rights of others.
Different types of secularism (part 2) – Secularism around the world
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Different types of secularism (part 2) – Secularism around the world

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This resource encourages students to learn about and reflect on how eight different countries approach secularism and the relationship between religion, individuals and society. Students compare and contrast these approaches to the UK and to international guarantees of freedom of belief. The stimulus provides background information on the countries along with positive and negative viewpoints. Key questions: What different types of secularism are there? How do these differences relate to political and historical circumstances? Why do people support or oppose secularism? Where does secularism come from? Learning outcomes (Basic) Students should demonstrate they can: Compare and contrast a range of approaches to secularism. Offer a viewpoint on the positives and negatives of different approaches to secularism, drawing on basic source material. Identify how different societies’ approaches to secularism impact on religion and the rights of others in that society. (Advanced) In addition to the basic learning outcomes, students should demonstrate they can: Offer a viewpoint on the positives and negatives of different approaches to secularism, drawing on contemporary examples and outside knowledge. Extrapolate from the source material how a range of approaches to secularism would impact on social issues involving religion and the rights of others.
Different types of secularism (part 3) – The Secular Charter
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Different types of secularism (part 3) – The Secular Charter

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This resource is aimed at older students who have already explored different approaches to secularism and the key questions which secularism seeks to address. The stimulus and exercises use the example of the NSS Secular Charter to explore how different secularists translate basic principles into approaches to some of the biggest issues involving the relationship between religion, individuals and society. Key questions: What is secularism? How do secularists think about decisions? What are religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination? Learning outcomes (Basic) Students should demonstrate they can: Explore an example of a mainstream approach to secularism in the UK. Offer basic criticisms of this approach. (Advanced) In addition to the basic learning outcomes, students should demonstrate they can: Extrapolate how an approach to secularism would impact on the role of religion in society and the rights of others. Offer criticisms of this approach which draw on a range of examples and outside sources.
Religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination (part 4) – The paradox of tolerance.
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Religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination (part 4) – The paradox of tolerance.

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This resource is aimed at older (KS5) students as it requires critical engagement with more complicated ideas regarding tolerance. The stimuli explore philosophical perspectives on the so called “paradox of tolerance” – that in the interest of tolerance we must tolerate some forms of intolerance, but not others – and practical examples of how secularists and others address these questions. Key questions: What are religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination? Why do people support or oppose secularism? Learning outcomes (Basic) Students should demonstrate they can: Understand the paradox of tolerance and how this can inform views on secularism. (Advanced) In addition to the basic learning outcomes, students should demonstrate they can: Critically engage with the paradox of tolerance, relating it to a range of real social issues.
Different types of secularism (part 1) – Berlinerblau’s “six types”
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Different types of secularism (part 1) – Berlinerblau’s “six types”

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In this resource students explore and reflect on six different approaches to, or models of, secularism identified by sociologist of religion and secularism, Jacques Berlinerblau, including their strengths and weaknesses. Students can consider how very different approaches to the questions that secularism raises can come about from similar starting principles. They compare these models to the guarantees of freedom of belief in the Human Rights Act and Convention on the Rights of the Child. Key questions: What different types of secularism are there? Learning outcomes (Basic) Students should demonstrate they can: Compare and contrast a range of approaches to secularism. Offer a viewpoint on the positives and negatives of different approaches to secularism, drawing on basic source material. (Advanced) In addition to the basic learning outcomes, students should demonstrate they can: Offer a viewpoint on the positives and negatives of different approaches to secularism, drawing on contemporary examples and outside knowledge. Extrapolate from the source material how a range of approaches to secularism would impact on social issues involving religion and the rights of others.
How do secularists think about decisions? (Part 1) – Public reason giving
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How do secularists think about decisions? (Part 1) – Public reason giving

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The resource uses the principles of “public reason giving” and the “veil of ignorance” as proposed by John Rawls to introduce the idea of secularist reasoning: decisions, whether motivated by religion or not, need to give an argument that is open to all. The stimulus defines these principles and gives examples, which students explore and critique in the exercises. Key questions How do secularists think about decisions? What are religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination? Learning outcomes (Basic) Students should demonstrate they can: Understand and articulate the principles of public reason giving and their relevance to how secularists and others think about decisions. Apply the principles of public reason giving to basic theoretical situations. (Advanced) In addition to the basic learning outcomes, students should demonstrate they can: Critically reflect on the principles of public reason giving and their relevance to how secularists and others think about decisions, drawing on a range of examples. Explore how the principles of public reason giving relate to key debate.
Religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination (part 1) – Basic principles
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Religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination (part 1) – Basic principles

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This is a primer resource designed for younger students to make the ideas of religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination more accessible. The stimulus explores these concepts through accessible metaphors. In the exercises students reflect on how we recognise unfairness which advantages or disadvantages us. Key questions: What are religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination? Learning outcomes (Basic) Students should demonstrate they can: Understand and offer their opinions on the basic principle of privilege. (Advanced) In addition to the basic learning outcomes, students should demonstrate they can: Consider how examples of privilege – including religious privilege – are relevant to the subject they are discussing.
How do secularists think about decisions? (Part 3) – You’re the town council
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How do secularists think about decisions? (Part 3) – You’re the town council

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This stimulus and exercise take three simplified fictional examples involving religion and politics, designed to get students thinking about the application of basic secularist principles –explored in previous resources or introduced here – and their view on them. Students consider how in a democratic society people of different religions or beliefs can come together to make fair decisions. Key questions: How do secularists think about decisions? What are religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination? Learning outcomes (Basic) Students should demonstrate they can: Understand how a range of viewpoints are informed by how people think about decisions involving religion and the rights of others. Categorise, compare and contrast these viewpoints with their own. (Advanced) In addition to the basic learning outcomes, students should demonstrate they can: Critically reflect on how a range of viewpoints are informed by how people think about decisions involving religion and the rights of others. Extrapolate how secularist and non-secularist reasoning impacts other decisions involving religion and the rights of others.
Why secularism? (Part 1) – Competing concepts
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Why secularism? (Part 1) – Competing concepts

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This resource is aimed at older (KS5) students, though is accessible for younger groups. It can be used as a review for students who have already completed a wider study of secularism, or they can be used as an alternative approach to give a basic overview of secularism and key debates. The stimulus considers the key question of why some people support or oppose secularism, by looking at key concepts they might disagree on, exploring around the disagreements. Key questions: Why do people support or oppose secularism? Learning outcomes (Basic) Students should demonstrate they can: Compare and contrast competing views of key concepts related to secularism. Understand how these views might lead others to support or oppose different models of secularism. (Advanced) In addition to the basic learning outcomes, students should demonstrate they can: Critically reflect on competing views of key concepts related to secularism, relating them to examples of real debates.
Why secularism? (Part 2) - Viewpoints
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Why secularism? (Part 2) - Viewpoints

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This resource covers a wide range of political and philosophical figures and their views on secularism. Through this resource students will gain an understanding of the diversity of secularist thought and stimulate the formation of their own viewpoints. Key questions: Who is a secularist? Why do people support or oppose secularism? Where does secularism come from? Learning outcomes (Basic) Students should demonstrate they can Understand, compare and contrast a range of viewpoints on secularism. (Advanced) In addition to the basic learning outcomes, students should demonstrate they can: Critically reflect on a range of viewpoints on secularism. Extrapolate from the source viewpoints why the range of authors might support or oppose forms of secularism.
Religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination (part 3) – How do we address them?
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Religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination (part 3) – How do we address them?

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Concepts of religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination are central to secularism. They come up in other resources and can be brought up in almost any discussion of religion in public life. Resources 1.10 and 1.11 address these directly and encourage students to engage with different viewpoints on these central terms. The resource contains three stimuli. The first explores how students might experience religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination. The second explores how these may influence viewpoints on religions and society. The third explores how they might impact on our views of others. Key questions: What are religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination? How do secularists think about decisions? Learning outcomes (Basic) Students should demonstrate they can: Understand the basic principles of religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination. Identify and comment on the role of religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination in simplistic examples of conflicts involving religion and the rights of others. (Advanced) In addition to the basic learning outcomes, students should demonstrate they can: Critically reflect on the principles of religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination, drawing on a range of outside examples. Offer nuanced comments on the role of religious privilege, tolerance and discrimination in a range of social debates involving religion and the rights of others.
Viewpoints on religion and secularism (part 1) – Religion and me
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Viewpoints on religion and secularism (part 1) – Religion and me

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This can build on a primer or serve as the basis for an exploration of secularism and secularist views on religion and society. The stimulus involves six viewpoints on religion and society, along with an explanation of why they might be considered secularist or not. The exercise invites discussion on the range of views, and students’ own views. Resource 1.03 and 1.04 are very similar – though 1.04 focuses on wider social aspects. They can be combined or used interchangeably. Key questions What is secularism? Who is a secularist? How do secularists think about religion? Learning outcomes (Basic) Students should demonstrate they can: Understand a range of viewpoints related to secularism, drawing on basic principles. Express a viewpoint, compared and contrasted with the examples. (Advanced) In addition to the basic learning outcomes, students should demonstrate they can: Critically reflect on a range of viewpoints related to secularism, drawing on basic principles and outside knowledge. Extrapolate how a range of viewpoints related to secularism might impact views on wider social issues.