Public Spirit: Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life

In 2013, the Woolf Institute at Cambridge convened the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life with the brief to consider the place and role of religion and belief in contemporary Britain, and to make recommendations for public life and policy. The Commission is running a national consultation on these issues, which closes on 31st October 2014.

Opening with an Introduction by Professor Tariq Modood (who sits on the Commission), this Public Spirit theme features contributions by:
• Professor John Milbank on the historical particularity of secularism in Britain. He argues that it is the Christian legacy that can uniquely hold the balance between the religious and the secular: ‘Religion and secularity in Britain Today’
• Professor Grace Davie on debates on the public presence of religion. She suggests the future is uncertain, but there is a need for forums like Public Spirit to permit a more constructive discussion on how to respond to religion in the public square, and the concepts, knowledge and vocabulary that are needed to ‘talk well about religion’:
• Professor David Voas on the place of religion in British public life, who argues that ‘religious privilege’ needs to be justified – not taken for granted: ‘Can the Commission Justify Religious Privilege?’
• Jenny Taylor who argues that religion is too serious to have only a passing acquaintance with it, and requires that journalists acquire religious literacy. She suggests that this means ‘essentially, catching up with the paradigm shift in British secular culture that is already upon us.’: ‘Religious Illiteracy is Now Toxic’
• Shenaz Bunglawala who calls for the Commission to deliberate the disparity in legislative protections for groups defined by race and those defined by religion and the inevitable retort of some who claim that religion, as a ‘chosen’ trait does not merit or deserve the legal treatment prescribed to ascriptive traits: ‘The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life: the media as a medium for improving religious understanding’
• Richard Reddie on the role of Black Majority Churches in tackling debt and poverty among marginalised communities, Reddie argues there has been a ‘step-change’ in Black socio-political engagement, particularly manifested in the Black Church Manifesto, which is seeking to move beyond offering ‘tea and sympathy’: ‘Diversity, inequality and gentrification in inner London, and the Black Majority Church response’

Further details about the Commission and its consultation are at: .