Shaping debate on religion in public life.

House of Lords Meeting on Religion and Public Policy

21 Apr 2016

On 12th April, William Temple Foundation Director Chris Baker, in his role as Co-Investigator of the Re-Imagining Religion and Belief for Public Policy Practice network, facilitated a public policy day at the House of Lords. Bringing together participants engaged in civil service, local authority work and faith communities, the day set out to explore current attitudes towards the role of religion and belief in public policy. Discussions took in a range of policy and practitioner perspectives with regard to two current ‘hotspots’ of policy debate: the role of religious identity, practice and belief(s) in regard to social cohesion, and welfare provision and care within the context of localism and austerity.

The findings from the day will be taken forward together with further findings from this two-year research network funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The project will add this research to current ideas and theories about religion and belief in the public sphere, being carried out by several disciplines in the Arts and Humanities, and synthesise them. It then translates these theories into practical public and social ideas that can make a contribution to a better understanding of religion and belief, to bring about positive and progressive change, especially in the areas of social cohesion, as well as poverty and inequality arising out of prolonged austerity.

So far the project has carried out 18 landmark interviews with global experts on religion, belief and public life. There has also been a three-day colloquium with 25 additional experts from Europe, USA and Australia. The findings of the project will also be shared with international centres looking at religion, belief and social policy in Montreal, Oslo and Melbourne. The work of the network will conclude in December 2016 with the national launch of a pop-up menu of 10 policy ideas for engaging religion and belief in relation to issues of social cohesion, austerity, welfare provision, poverty and localism.

Read the report and findings from the House of Lords event here.

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