What is secularism?

George Holyoake coined the term “secularism” to describe his views of promoting a social order separate from religion, without actively dismissing or criticising religious belief. A modern day view of secularism includes the separation of government institutions and state officials from religious institutions and religious dignitaries.


Is secularism the same as atheism?

No. Secularists can be Christian, Jewish, Humanist, Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan, agnostic, atheist, and more. Secularism is not a practice in a belief system. It is a political, social, and cultural stance to keep the state and religions separate. Atheism is the disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.


What kind of help and advice can the Scottish Secular Society offer?

We host monthly discussions that cover pertinent issues concerning secularism and Scotland. We campaign for the removal of religious privilege from government and our education system. We work along side other activist groups to support human rights and equality for Scotland and beyond. Visit our Information page for more information.

We can help you find specific legislation or official pronouncements, help in developing approaches to schools, and in drafting letters. We fully understand the importance of maintaining cordial relations with the school. We can help connect you with the media to help spread your message. As well, we are willing to work with you to create a more secular Scotland.


What is the position of the Scottish Secular Society on denominational schools?

The existence of such schools, at any rate within the publicly funded sector, is completely incompatible with our central tenet of evenhanded treatment of different forms of belief and nonbelief. We realise that the abolition of such schools is not at present a politically realistic objective. However, we strongly oppose the formation of new denominational schools, as being socially divisive, educationally problematic, financially burdensome, and inappropriate in today’s Scotland.


What is the society’s position on sex education in school?

We believe that sex education needs to be a positive aspect of children’s education. Guidance should start at a young age and be age appropriate at every developmental step. Sex education should be factual and evidence based, and include information on various sexualities (again age appropriate), gender identities, relationships, consent, pregnancy and contraception, and so on. We have previously campaigned for sex education in Scottish schools.


Does the Scottish Secular Society seek to suppress all discussion of Creationism?

No. However, there is a clear distinction between teaching Creationism as valid, and teaching about Creationism as one particular viewpoint. We strongly welcome discussion of present-day Creationism as part of the history of ideas, and hope that pupils will be made aware of its context as a mid-twentieth century reaction in the US to modernising movements within Christianity.


Does the Scottish Secular Society’s objection to the teaching of Creationism extend also to teaching the idea of God as Creator of the Universe?

We referred to our petition to “separate creation”, precisely in order to distinguish between Creationism as alternative to the science of evolution, and the idea of God as Creator of the whole. The latter idea is outside the domain of science, and therefore a separate issue. We are, of course, completely opposed to the teaching of any kind of religious doctrine as fact.


What resources are available for teachers and parents?

We focus on two areas of particular interest:

1. The Big Bang and Evolution (this is listed as a single bullet point in the new Higher syllabus)
2. Human activity and the environment, including such issues as population control, extinction of species, sustainability, and global warming

We have therefore put together a writing team consisting of a scientist who has worked in relevant areas, and two High School science teachers advised by a panel that includes a University lecturer in education, an Anglican priest/geologist, and an experienced RMPS teacher, to prepare such materials.

Our approach here would be to outline the current scientific consensus, explain how this has been arrived at and the levels of confidence that we have in different conclusions, and relate this to the way that religions have sought to explain nature, and to define humankind’s responsibilities towards it.


Will there be any charge for the educational materials envisaged, and how will they be delivered?

No charge. Materials will be delivered electronically. Under no circumstances will we include commercial advertising material, or divulge recipients’ details.


What’s in it for us?

The opportunity to contribute; enhancement of professional skills and reputation; the chance to develop and refine materials for a broad audience.


What’s in it for me?

The opportunity to contribute; enhancement of professional skills and reputation; the chance to develop and refine materials for a broad audience.


Does the society host events?

We host a meeting the first Thursday of every month at the Glasgow Theosophical Society Building.


Is there a fee for attending the meetings?

The Society currently operates without external funding and entirely through the efforts of volunteers- we ask a small donation on the door.


What are the membership fees?

The cost of an annual membership is £10 (£5 for student/senior, £2 job seeking/unemployed).