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A major new series on Faith and Religion launched to mark the 2015 commemorations of Sir Winston Churchill

03 Mar 2015

To mark the 50th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s death and 75 years since he became Prime Minister, a major new series of work examining the role of faith and religion will take place this year as part of the Churchill 2015: 21st Century Statesmanship Global Leaders Programme, it was announced today.

This work will be led by four organisations - The Von Hügel Institute, Cambridge Interfaith Programme, St Mary’s University in London and think tank Theos. Together they will examine the role of faith and religion in today’s world and how it can help provide solutions to some of the major issues faced.

Nigel Hall, Project Director:

“The issue of faith and religion tends to be polarising.  It is either dismissed as irrelevant with no bearing at all on the modern world; or seen as contentious and an inherent driver for conflict, as evidenced by recent events in France and the ongoing situation in Syria and Iraq.

“Rather than view religion as part of the problem, the four organisations involved in this work want to bring a new perspective and show how faith and religion can provide solutions.”

The four organisations will be undertaking a range of activity including an independent and in-depth analytical report of the key religious issues facing modern statesmanship.  In addition:

·  Theos a Christian think tank will examine the resurgence of identity and the case for religion.  This will include interviews with leaders about this new world situation where identity politics and particularly religion are resurgent. This work will also look at how suited our current politics and leadership are and what might need to change in the future.

· The Cambridge Interfaith Programme will hold a symposium in May 2015 as part of their new initiative, the Global Covenant of Religions. This Covenant is a commitment among religious communities to draw on the depth of their traditions to prevent violence in the name of religion and to enable peace. It will advance principled collaboration between inter-religious organisations, governments and civil society, and will facilitate coordination around four priority areas: protection, mediation, education and service.

· The Von Hügel Institute is currently running a major series of debates on 'Ethical Standards in Public Life'. The final seminar of this series will form part of the Churchill 2015 leadership programme and will examine: 'Is the Just War theory still relevant in the 21st century?'. Speakers include Field Marshall Lord Guthrie and Professor Nigel Biggar of Oxford University.  It will be co-sponsored by the Churchill Archives Centre at Churchill College, Cambridge.

· The work at St. Mary's University in London will explore what is meant by secular in contemporary society. Researchers will produce a comparative account of secularism in its various philosophical forms, from the French Enlightenment to the English Enlightenment and the American constitution, bringing it into the modern day with more recent forms secular traditions, such as that found in modern India.  This research programme will examine why some secular constructs have been more successful at integrating religion than others.  Ultimately it will ask if the best response for contemporary society is greater pluralism rather than a rigid dogma and rhetoric of a narrow secular creed and the role of religion in the state and wider society.