Tag Archives: secularism

Maajid Nawaz On Australian TV


On the heels of a joint speaking engagement down under with Sam Harris, Maajid Nawaz appeared on Australian talk show ‘The Drum’. Non-Australians can now watch this online here.

Firstly, I think it’s great to see liberal, progressive Muslims like Maajid granted a platform on mainstream TV – rather than the usual rent-a-loons that are invited in the service of controversy, rather than discussion.

Nawaz, as always, shared some articulate views on extremism, secularism and the Islamist narrative. This brings me to another guest and ‘Human Rights Campaigner’, Sarah Saleh.


Keep in mind what Maajid Nawaz stands for and speaks clearly about on this TV appearance: anti-extremism, freedom of expression, human rights and secularism. Saleh’s response? She summarises Nawaz’s position as ‘extreme’. She also appears to have a hard time accepting that theocracy is a bad idea. “Surely you agree theocracy is wrong?” asks Nawaz. “Do I need to?” responds Saleh. At least she was helpful insofar as demonstrating the problem we have with so-called ‘moderate Muslims’.

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

Ep#71 – Sarah Levin – Anti-Vaccination Myths – Put Kids First

Sarah Levin (@SarahMLevin) from the Secular Coalition For America joins me on this week’s #GSPodcast. We talk about the anti-vaccination movement and tackle some of the myths they promote. We’ll also be telling you about the ‘Put Kids First‘ campaign and how you can help with this very important issue.

Also available on iTunes and Stitcher.

Support the podcast at www.patreon.com/gspellchecker

Listeners get a free audiobook and trial with Audible at http://www.audibletrial.com/gs

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Goodbye Glen Carrigan


Glen Carrigan, a well respected activist in humanist and secular circles has left us too soon. I didn’t know him well, and don’t have all the details concerning his death, but I thought I’d pay my respects here.

I met Glen in May1 during a double recording of The BBC’s The Big Questions  (pictured together above). Glen blogged about that experience, as well as many other things of interest over at his ‘Homoscientificus’ site. We had a few hours break in between episodes so decided to chance a local Warrington pub for some lunch. He left an impression. Funny, charming, knowledgeable and passionate about his activism and humanism. We were both giddy at managing to sneak in some microphone time at the end of our first recording and bonded over having both studied at UCLAN. I got the distinct impression he’d studied much harder though.

He struck me as someone who had the intelligence and personality to achieve great things. I felt optimistic about the future of scepticism knowing that someone like Glen was running UCLAN’s Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society. He handed me his business card and explained that he wasn’t sure whether to have a serious card, or a light-hearted one – so settled on a double-sided solution. Smart.


My thoughts are with his friends and family.

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

  1. Albeit largely trivial, in the interest of accuracy I’ve just noticed my chronology is a little off. I actually met Glen for the first time in April at QED Con. Though I remember our conversation there clearly, I wrongly ordered that event in my memory as coming later

Team #GFGS Raises Over £1,000 for Oldham Cats

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Back in 2013 I launched a secular fundraising initiative and named it ‘Good For Good’s Sake’. The idea was a simple one; we would use our online presence to raise some funds for charitable causes. Why? Because it would be a good thing to do. And because we could.

After raising a combined total of £25,775.83 for Red Nose Day, WaterAid and Doctors Without Borders  in year-long campaigns, I decided to turn our attention to a smaller, feline-focussed charity – Oldham Cats, for 3 months. I’m very pleased to say we raised an incredible total of £1,008.00 for this wonderful Cat Rescue.

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Me (left). Fundraising Secretary, Samantha (right)

Our goal was to raise enough money to supply a much-needed replacement laptop for the Oldham Cats’ office. Well, we raised enough for the Laptop and a new laminator. I’ve also been informed they have some funds left over too. The team (comprised of animal loving volunteers) send their gratitude. Oldham Cats were kind enough to ask me to present the new #GFGS funded items to Fundraising Secretary, Samantha.

A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to this campaign. You have made a massive difference to a great cause. Your generosity continues to amaze me. Samantha told me she was touched by all your lovely comments on the Just Giving page. I told her what a compassionate bunch of people you are. I’ll leave you with a sneaky selfie with my favourite (sleepy) resident, ‘Ginge’.

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You can read all about the great work Oldham Cats do at http://www.oldhamcats.co.uk/. You can donate to them by visiting http://www.oldhamcats.co.uk/support-us/. You can keep up to date on all the Oldham Cats residents, and send them some love on Twitter @OldhamCats.

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

Taking The Myth – Nothing To Do With Islam – 28 June 2015

This week on Taking The MythStephen Knight and A Scotsman Abroad discuss the big topics with guest callers: The spate of Islamist terror attacks in recent days and the ‘nothing to do with Islam’ brigade. We also talk about the latest episode in the CJ Werleman saga, answer your questions and have a disagreement about religious freedom plus much more!

Also available on iTunes and Stitcher.

Support the podcast at www.patreon.com/gspellchecker

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Some Thoughts On Douglas Murray’s Advice For Secularists

secularismI’m a keen follower of Douglas Murray’s writing and public speaking, especially his output on the issue of Islamism. I think he’s a rare voice of clarity and honesty on this topic, which to my mind, also makes him an important one. In short, I quite like the man. You can listen to a discussion between us here.

I’m also a member of The National Secular Society. I’ve attended several of their events, met their management and I’m grateful for the work they do. You can listen to my discussion with the President, Terry Sanderson here.

This brings me to Douglas’s latest piece in The Spectator:  ‘Secularists need to prioritise their targets. I agree with the basic sentiment of the title. It’s true that far too many individuals and organisations are more than happy to take a swing at the ‘lesser’ evils of a Christian flavour – yet develop a mysterious case of chronic arm fatigue where the religion of peace is concerned. However, I just feel it’s a tad unfair to make this point in the context of The National Secular Society and secularists in general.

Here Douglas takes issue with a point regarding Bishops in the House Of Lords, made by representative of the NSS, Evan Harris:

I’ve been hearing this Bishops in the House of Lords line for years and it strikes me as an increasingly eccentric obsession for anybody to have in 2015.  There are all sorts of reasons to advocate House of Lords reform, but the presence of Anglican bishops – hardly the most terrifying religious figures of our age – strikes me as approaching the barmy.  It is also a fine example of a dated and outmoded form of secularism.


I disagree. The remit of the NSS is to promote and achieve a secular state whilst challenging religious privilege. I’m not sure how they can hope to achieve this goal of separation of Church and state while 26 unelected members of clergy are able to influence decisions in state politics. It matters not how lovely and cuddly they may be, their mere presence is the antithesis of secularism. No other religion (or indeed non-religious ideology) enjoys such privilege.

This is the point I find most puzzling:

It is difficult for secularists who appear on moral discussion shows because to some extent they are involving themselves in a category error.  On the one hand a religious figure talks about the saving of souls and explains their view of the meaning of life.  The secular representative then responds by talking about tax arrangements.

Unless I’m entirely misreading here1 it appears the implication is that moral discussion is exclusively the domain of the religious – which would be especially odd given Douglas is an atheist. Of course a secular or humanist worldview should be included in any objective discussion on morality – so I cannot understand the ‘category error’ point. Religion doesn’t own this domain of discourse, rather it has simply held it hostage for the most part.

If I were a representative of the National Secular Society I suppose I might mention this point [Bishops in House Of Lords] at the very end of any long list of concerns, but I could not put it anywhere near the top.  And that is the thing about much of the outmoded secular voices we hear at the moment.

Well, if we look at the many voices existing within the National Secular Society, rather than just one – it’s clear that many of their and Douglas’s priorities align, such as The Trojan Horse Plot, Freedom of Expression, British Jihadists, Extremism and so on – which are all staples of NSS Campaigns & focus.

I was particularly pleased to be in attendance at the Secularist Of The Year Awards, where the main prize was handed to Charlie Hebdo magazine. Secularists from around the world gathered to stand with the NSS to champion freedom of expression and oppose Islamic fascism by honouring the brave at a time when too many opted for apologetics and cowardice.

It’s true that the problem of priorities, as identified by Douglas, is a genuine and pervasive one. I just feel making this point with Secularists in your sights may constitute an act of friendly fire.

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


  1. 22/05/2015 – Douglas Murray was gracious enough to clarify this point to me via email, reproduced here with permission: ‘..the category error point is that if a religious person is talking about the meaning of life (as they see it) it seems a mistake to me to reply by talking about tax arrangements. That was the category error I was referring to. I think it makes us secularists sound like joyless tax accountants (as opposed to the joyful type)…,’
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