Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life
We are pleased to announce that the final report of the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life is now available:
A selction of submissions to the Commission can be read here:
The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life was convened by the Woolf Institute, Cambridge, to:
a) consider the place and role of religion and belief in contemporary Britain, and the significance of emerging trends and identities
b) examine how ideas of Britishness and national identity may be inclusive of a range of religions and beliefs, and may in turn influence peoples self-understanding
c) explore how shared understandings of the common good may contribute to greater levels of mutual trust and collective action, and to a more harmonious society
d) make recommendations for public life and policy.
The commission was chaired by the Rt Hon Baroness Butler-Sloss of Marsh Green GBE, formerly President of the Family Division of the High Court. She was supported by Dr Edward Kessler MBE, founder and executive director of the Woolf Institute, as vice chair.
The commission had four patrons: Professor Lord Parekh of Kingston upon Hull, Emeritus Professor of Political Philosophy at the universities of Hull and Westminster; Sir Iqbal Sacranie OBE, formerly Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain; the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Lord Williams of Oystermouth, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and formerly Archbishop of Canterbury; and the Rt Hon Lord Woolf, CH, formerly Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.
Baroness Butler-Sloss was assisted by a steering group whose members are Dr Shana Cohen, deputy director of the Woolf Institute; the Rt Revd Professor Lord Harries of Pentregarth, emeritus Gresham professor of divinity, honorary professor of theology at King's College, London, and formerly Bishop of Oxford; Dr Edward Kessler MBE, founder and executive director of the Woolf Institute and fellow of St Edmund's College, University of Cambridge; and Professor Tariq Modood MBE, professor of sociology, politics and public policy at the University of Bristol, and founding director of the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, University of Bristol.
- Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, executive secretary for minority ethnic Christian affairs at Churches Together in England and director of Respect Enterprises Ltd
- The Very Revd Dr Ian Bradley, principalof St Mary's College, St Andrews and reader in practical theology and church history at the University of St Andrews
- The Rt Hon the Baroness Butler-Sloss of Marsh Green GBE, formerly President of the Family Division of the High Court (Chair)
- Dr Shana Cohen, deputy director of the Woolf Institute, Cambridge
- Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association and a director of the Religious Education Council
- Shaunaka Rishi Das, director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and Hindu chaplain at the University of Oxford
- Professor Gwen Griffith-Dickson, vice-principal of Heythrop College and director of the Lokahi Foundation, and formerly professor of divinity at Gresham College
- Mark Hammond, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and visiting professor of public administration at Canterbury Christ Church University
- The Rt Revd Professor Lord Harries of Pentregarth, emeritus Gresham professor of divinity, honorary professor of theology at King's College, London, and formerly Bishop of Oxford
- Dr Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, lecturer in Sikh Studies, Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham
- Dr Edward Kessler MBE, founder director of the Woolf Institute and fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge (Convenor and Vice-Chair)
- Professor Francesca Klug OBE, professorial research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics and former commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission
- Professor Maleiha Malik, professor of law at King's College, London
- Professor Tariq Modood MBE, professor of sociology, politics and public policy at the University of Bristol and founding director of the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, University of Bristol
- Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, community imam in Leicester, co-chair of the Christian-Muslim Forum and assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain
- Professor Lord Parekh of Kingston-upon-Hull, emeritus professor of political philosophy at the universities of Hull and Westminster
- Brian Pearce OBE, former director of the Inter Faith Network for the UK
- The Revd Canon Dr Angus Ritchie, director of the Contextual Theology Centre at the Royal Foundation of St Katharine, London, and assistant priest at St Peter's Church, Bethnal Green
- Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon, senior associate at the Oriental Institute, University of Oxford, and former president of the British Association for Jewish Studies and the Birmingham Inter-Faiths Council
- The Revd Dr Robert Tosh, formerly head of religious broadcasting at BBC Northern Ireland
Meetings & Hearings
Meetings of the commission
The commission met for six weekends over a period of two years, November 2013–June 2015. A pre-commission day event was held on 30 September 2013 to finalise terms of reference and modes of operation, and agree a preliminary schedule of themes and issues to be discussed at the weekend meetings, as well as agree an outline programme of work. The first weekend meeting was held on 22-24 November 2013 at Charney Manor, Oxfordshire, and five further weekend meetings have been planned for 24-26 January, 16-18 May and 7-9 November in 2014, and 30 January–1 February and 17-19 April in 2015 . Each weekend meeting was centred on specially commissioned papers.
Local and national hearings
Five local public hearings were also held - in Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds and Leicester. In addition, there were two national public hearings – one in London and the other, focusing on young people, in Birmingham. On each occasion a series of private meetings were also held, at which individuals or organisations were be invited to give evidence.
The commission was funded by grants from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the Open Society Foundation and the Woolf Institute.