Secularism and the Struggle for Free Speech

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Without free speech no search for truth is possible; without free speech no discovery of truth is useful; without free speech progress is checked…Better a thousand-fold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech.’

So said Charles Bradlaugh, the radical politician, freethinker, and founder of the National Secular Society, in a speech at London’s Hall of Science over 150 years ago. His words are still profoundly relevant today, as societies and legislators grapple with the concept of free speech and where its limits should lie.

The human impulse for free thought and speech has, throughout history, clashed with religious sensibilities, and religious conservatives have consistently sought to stifle debate, criticism and mockery of their beliefs.