Following the publication of the CORAB report, ‘A Secularist Response’ was released critical of the report. Here Jonathan Chaplin responds to this criticism, suggesting where future debate about the role of religion in public life might start.
In this article, Dr Edward Kessler, Vice-Chair and Convenor of the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life reflects on Public Spirit’s recent series of articles on the Commission. Arguing that religion and belief is not taken for granted, he suggests we need a nuanced approach to understanding the role of religion and belief in British public life.
Reflecting on debates on the public presence of religion, Grace Davie 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 needed to ‘talk well about religion’.
John Milbank addresses the historical particularity of secularism in Britain and argues that the Christian legacy that can uniquely hold the balance between the religious and the secular.
CHRIS BAKER: We need to conceive of the relationship between religious and secular in a more symbiotic way. This means accepting the full religious and secular diversity of British society, publicly recognising the ‘spiritual capital’ of both religious and secular organisations.
TARIQ MODOOD: In the twenty-first century it is the presence and accommodation of Muslims that is Western Europe’s main multicultural challenge. Governments can engage with Muslims in a range of different ways. Yet even in anti-multiculturalist states such as France corporate engagement with Muslims has been necessary.
STEVEN KETTELL: Participation in the Big Society has been welcomed by the majority of religious organisations as a means of promoting a greater role for faith in the public sphere. Such an outcome, however, appears to be unlikely. Assumptions of a link between faith and volunteering are flawed, and processes of secularisation pose serious challenges.