Charles Bradlaugh Statue Unveiled In House Of Commons

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The National Secular Society was founded in 1886 by Charles Bradlaugh. The founding principles were: “to promote human happiness, to fight religion as an obstruction, to attack the legal barriers to freethought”.

As a staunch atheist, progressive and an active anti-blasphemy law campaigner, Bradlaugh naturally fell afoul of the ideologues of his time – none more so than British Parliament. In 1880, Bradlaugh would win the election to become MP for Northampton, yet would be denied his seat in parliament for refusing to affirm the religious oath. It would be a further six years before he would finally be allowed to take his seat.

The National Secular Society has been campaigning to have the memory and great work of Charles Bradlaugh commemorated in the form of a portrait bust in the Houses Of Parliament.

President Of The NSS, Terry Sanderson had this to say of the campaign and Bradlaugh:

“We want to ensure that Bradlaugh – one of the most effective politicians of the 19th century – is not forgotten, particularly in the parliament that he struggled so hard to be part of. We have, therefore, commissioned a life-sized portrait bust of the great man.

“And the exciting news is that Parliament has agreed to give it a prominent place in the Palace of Westminster where it will serve as a reminder of Bradlaugh’s fantastic contribution.

“He was elected as Member of Parliament for Northampton in 1880, but it was only after a momentous struggle against the religious establishment that he was able to take his seat in 1885. He subsequently became widely known as a social reformer and for his work on the Oaths Act. It is thanks to Bradlaugh that MPs can affirm in Parliament today.

“The life size bust will be prominently displayed in a public area of Parliament as part of its permanent collection and can be used as the focus of education about Bradlaugh and secularism.”

I attended a special Reception at the House Of Commons today for the unveiling of the Charles Bradlaugh Portrait bust.

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A courageous and tireless campaigner for secularism and free thought is now immortalised in the home of British politics.

You can read about the current NSS campaigns here, and support them by becoming a member here.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

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