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Sh2014 faith-public-square


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Sh2014 faith-public-square

  1. 1. “There’s  no  place  for  faith  in  our   public  life”   Dr  Bex  Lewis   Research  Fellow  in  Social  Media  and  Online   Learning,  CODEC,  St  John’s  College,  Durham   University;  Director,  Digital  Fingerprint   17th  April  2014:  AJernoon  Lecture:  #SH2014   CreaMve  Commons  Non-­‐Commercial  Licence  
  2. 2. Dr  Bex  Lewis   Research  Fellow  in  Social  Media  &   Online  Learning   CODEC,  St  John’s  College,  Durham   Director,  Digital  Fingerprint   T:  @drbexl   F:  /drbexl   W:  
  3. 3. Are  they  right?     A  lot  of  people  now  argue  that,  because   we’re  living  in  a  post-­‐ChrisBan,  secular   culture,  religion  and  faith  shouldn’t  be   allowed  a  voice  in  discussions  on  public   policy  issues.    
  4. 4. TwiEer  Responses   • "The  personal  is  poliMcal“  @johngcanning   • Every  aspect  of  public  life  is  built  and   moMvated  by  "faith":  faith  in  the  state/human   goodness/God/ourselves  etc.  @98rosjon   • Faith=EssenMal.  I  ws  Cllr  and  took  my  faith   with  me  in  to  chamber.  But  diff  to  integrate,  I   got  a  lot  of  #c***  from  ppl  at  Church   @MckRich  
  5. 5. TwiEer  Responses   • “@drbexl:  “There’s  no  place  for  faith  in  our   public  life”#SH2014?”  I  don’t  understand  the   hate  that  goes  hand  in  hand  with  faith  #auspol   @Bazzamahaz   • Having  faith  tends  to  give  us  the  impetus  to   work  for  jusMce  and  the  good  of  others,  plus  a   sense  of  compassion.  All  essenMal  for  those  in   public  life.  @MurielSowden  
  6. 6. Twitter Responses • can't  separate  my  faith  from  my  acMons,   including  those  in  public  life.  If  people  of  faith   are  in  public  life  faith  is  there  too.   @JennRiddlestone   • how  can  you  separate  faith  from  your  public   life?  Is  private  faith  true  faith?   @loulou_uberkirk  
  7. 7. Twitter Responses • Wrong.  Stupid.  Dumb.  They're  my  thoughts  :)   @samhailes   • no  clear  dividing  line  between  'faith'  and  'non-­‐ faith',  all  people  have  a  bias  and  beliefs,  not   just  'religious'  people  @jameslee42   • we  can't  seek  the  welfare  of  the  city  if  we   refuse  to  engage  with  the  policies  that  affect   its  inhabitants  @garethdavies66  
  8. 8. Meaning  
  9. 9. We  all  have  faith  in  something.  The  quesMon  isn't   whether  people  have  faith,  but  what  they  put  their   faith  in.  The  argument  that  some  people  have  faith   and  others  don't  is  a  complete  lie.     An  atheist  is  someone  of  tremendous  faith.  To   believe  in  no  supernatural  divine  being  whatsoever   takes  a  lot  of  faith.       James  Prescoh,  @JamesPrescoh77  
  10. 10. The  problem  with  the  quesMon  is  that  it  presupposes   that  the  'secular'  perspecMve  found  in  the  phrase   'public  life'  is  without  'faith'  in  the  first  place.  If  faith  is   a  combinaMon  of  worldview  (or  how  we  imagine  the   world  to  be),  praxis  (a  combinaMon  of  rituals,  liturgies,   ethics  and  financial  consideraMons),  and  life   expectaBons  (what,  in  light  of  worldview  and  praxis   you  expect  life  to  be  like,  a  kind  of  telos)  then  the   'secular'  is  as  much  a  faith  as  orthodox  ChrisManity.  If   this  is  the  case,  then  it's  not  so  much  'should  faith  be  in   the  public  square'  but  rather,  'which  faith  would  we   prefer  to  be  in  the  public  square?’     Joshua  Penduck,  Ordinand  
  11. 11. “There’s  no  place  for  faith  in  our  public  life”  sounds  like  a  form  of   oppression  to  me.  Firstly,  what  does  one  mean  by  "faith"  in  this   context?  Too  many  people  use  the  word  faith  to  me  "things  you   believe,  which  I  do  not  believe"  or  vice  versa.  I  this  context,  I'd   subsMtute  "faith"  for  "belief  system"  (and  add  that  atheism  is  a   belief  system).  Now  the  statement  reads  "There's  no  place  for   belief  systems  in  our  public  life."  Now  the  statement  sounds  like,  at   best  a  form  of  denial,  or  worse  wilful  ignorance  of  the  psychology.   Faith  is  inherently  involved  in  public  life,  the  only  quesMons  are:   what  kind  of  faith  (or  faith  in  what)  and  is  that  faith  declared  or   undeclared.  Generally,  when  people  have  said  to  me  "there's  no   place  for  faith  in  our  public  life"  what  they  meant  was  "there's  no   place  for  your  belief  system  in  my  world."  -­‐  and  that  is  most   definitely  a  belief  (form  of  faith)  that  is  trying  to  shape  public  life.     Benjamin  Ellis  
  12. 12. Ben  Whitnall,  Bible  Society   That  statement,  unqualified,  is  a  logical  impossibility,  I'd  say.  Like  saying  'there's  no   place  for  water  in  a  human  body'.  It's  not  true,  it  shouldn't  be  true  and  it's  almost   impossible  to  imagine  a  real,  live  situaMon  in  which  it  could  be  true.  Being  a  lihle  less   obdurately  literal,  I  think  there's  a  context  behind  this  quesMon  that's  been  created  by  a   linguisMc  trick/synecdoche  –  something  like  saying  'there's  no  place  for  insisMng  that   overpriced,  arMficial,  carbonated,  bohled,  super-­‐chilled  water  be  the  only  liquid  in  the   human  body'.  That  is,  people  take  a  parBcular  and  very  specific  understanding/ manifestaBon  of  the  thing  at  hand  and  use  it  to  stand  in  for  the  general  term.  In  the   case  of  'faith',  it  will  variously  mean  'unquesBoning  adherence  to  a  major  world   religion'  or  'supersMMous  behaviour  based  on  claims  without  any  verifiable  evidence'  or   'brash  confidence  in  the  ability  to  change  a  situaMon'  –  or  even  more  specific  stuff,  like   'telling  people  not  to  have  sex  before  marriage'  or  'serng  economic  policy  on  advice   from  bankers,  not  econometricians'  or  any  one  of  a  million  other  things.  And  then,   without  anyone  saying  so  explicitly,  *that*  specific  noMon  becomes  the  basis  for  arguing   for  or  against  the  inclusion  of  something  as  general  as  'faith'  in  public  life.  In  almost  any   other  context,  we  know  how  crazy  and  dangerous  it  is  to  be  so  careless  but  the  faith   thing  seems  oddly  vulnerable  to  this  haziness.  /rant  
  13. 13. *  Responses  to  the  statement   *  Responses  to  the  responses   Discuss  
  14. 14. Faith  &  State?  
  15. 15. Worldview   Foucault  maintained  that  rules  of  discourse  are   applied  within  historically  defined  periods  and   socially  specific  groups.  These  define  and  produce   ideas  of  ‘truth’  and  knowledge  which  govern,  at  any   given  Mme,  ‘what  is  valid,  sayable  and  possible’.   Such  rules  are  associated  with  insMtuMons,  which,   structured  themselves  by  discourses,  also  play  a  key   part  in  the  regulaMon  of  populaMons  through   discourse.   Lewis,  PhD  Thesis,  2004  (p27)  See  hhp://      
  16. 16. The  Archbishop  of  Canterbury  complained   that  ‘what  is  primarily  a  moral  problem  with   a  medical  aspect  is  being  treated  as  if  it   were  primarily  a  medical  problem  with  a   moral  aspect’,  and  that  ‘there  is  a  great  evil   and  a  grave  menace  to  be  met’.     The  Archbishop  of  Canterbury:  Most  Rev.  W.  Temple  D.D.,  Wellcome  SA/PVD,  Dr  Maitland  Radford   (Medical  Officer  of  Health,  St  Pancras),  ‘The  Central  Council  for  Health  EducaMon:  Conference  on  Health   EducaMon  and  the  Venereal  Diseases’,  February  26  1943,  p.10.  
  17. 17. Trigg,  Religion  in  Public  Life,  p4   ‘Faith’  is  oJen  contrasted  with  ‘reason’  so  that  it   appears  that  science  deals  with  what  is   objecBve,  and  can  command  agreement,  whilst   religion  is  leJ  with  subjecBve  reacMons.   Individuals  can  search  for  a  meaning  in  their   personal  lives,  and  that  is  seen  as  the  province   of  religion.  Truth,  on  the  other  hand,  is  publicly   established,  and  that  is  said  to  be  the  realm  of   science.  
  18. 18. Power  of  Secularism   The  NaMonal  Secular  Society  campaigns  for  the   separaBon  of  religion  and  state  and  promotes   secularism  as  the  best  means  to  create  a  society  in   which  people  of  all  religions  or  none  can  live  together   fairly  and  cohesively.  The  NSS  sees  secularism  —  the   posiMon  that  the  state  should  be  separate  from   religion  —  as  an  essenMal  element  in  promoMng   equality  between  all  ciMzens. hhp://    
  19. 19. A.C.  Grayling   We  have  the  spectacle  of  the  righteous  wriMng   lehers  of  complaint  about  televised  nudity,   while  from  the  factory  next  door  tons  of   armaments  are  exported  to  regions  of  the   world  gripped  by  poverty  and  civil  war.   hhp://    
  20. 20. The  Henley-­‐on-­‐Thames  town  councillor,  73,   said  the  country  had  been  'beset  by  storms'   since  the  passage  of  the  new  law  on  gay   marriage  because  Mr  Cameron  had  acted   'arrogantly  against  the  Gospel'.   In  a  leher  to  the  Henley  Standard  he  wrote:   'The  scriptures  make  it  abundantly  clear  that   a  ChrisMan  naMon  that  abandons  its  faith  and   acts  contrary  to  the  Gospel  (and  in  naked   breach  of  a  coronaMon  oath)  will  be  beset  by   natural  disasters  such  as  storms,  disease,   pesMlence  and  war. Silvester-blames-UK-storms-gay-marriage- legalised.html#ixzz2z86TrVD6
  21. 21. Judge  Rutherford  (Bull  vs  Hall/Preddy,  2011)   “In  our  parliamentary  democracy  it  is  for   parliament  to  frame  laws  which  reflect  these   changes  in  artude  or  which  give  a  lead  to   such  changes,”  he  said.  “Whatever  may  have   been  the  posiMon  in  past  centuries  it  is  no   longer  the  case  that  our  laws  must,  or  should,   automaBcally  reflect  the  Judeo-­‐ChrisBan   posiBon.”  
  22. 22. State  Religion   Communist  Europe   Prominent  fight:     for  religious  freedom   against  state  atheism.     Trigg,  Religion  in  Public  Life,  p10  
  23. 23. Trigg,  p231   • …  raMonality  is  something  we  all  hold  in  common  as  humans.  If   public  reasoning  can  have  no  relevance  to  religion,  or  equivalent   systems  of  belief,  we  are  restricMng  the  scope  of  what  may  help  us   to  understand  each  other  more,  even  if  it  does  not  always  bring   agreement.  In  fact,  relaBvism,  the  opponent  of  such  raBonality,   always  sinks  into  incoherence,  by  having  in  the  end  to  assume   something  as  true.  When  JusMce  Stevens  talks  of  the  ‘evil’  of   discriminaMng  between  systems  of  belief,  where  is  he  standing  to   make  that  judgement  about  evil?  He  clearly  has  a  system  of  belief   himself,  encompassing  toleraMon  of  all  belief,  and  he  considers  it   important  enough  to  impose  it  in  others  using  the  full  force  of  law.    
  24. 24. Faith  &  PoliBcs?  
  25. 25. hhp://­‐scoh-­‐walker-­‐refuses-­‐to-­‐take-­‐down-­‐religious-­‐tweet/    
  26. 26. DailyTelegraph   17/04/14  
  27. 27. For  the  public  good?  
  28. 28. Miroslav  Volf   "For  ChrisMans,  faith  is  a  precious  good,   the  most  valuable  personal  and  social   resource.  When  it  is  leJ  untapped,  the   common  good  suffers  -­‐  not  just  the   parMcular  interests  of  ChrisMans.”   HT  @partakers_dave  
  29. 29. For  me,  "working  in  the  public   sphere"  looks  like  Wilberforce   fighBng  slavery  or  the  alliance   of  organisaBons  who  fought   for  debt  relief,  not  publishing   posiBon  papers.     Mark  Howe  
  30. 30. Rowan  Williams  –  Faith  in  the  Public  Square,  p5   • The  sense  that  human  beings  are  limited  and  dependent  is   not,  for  religious  believers,  something  humiliaMng  and   disempowering;  it  is  simply  an  acknowledgement  of  the  way   things  are…  This  bears  very  obviously  on  our  environmental   challenges.     • A  good  many  advocates  and  acMvists  in  this  area  have  urged   people  of  faith  to  arMculate  more  clearly  the  religious   imperaMves  around  responsibility  for  the  environment;  and   whatever  the  precise  scienMfic  predicMons  around  climate   change,  there  should  be  no  debate  as  to  the  rightness  of  a   sober  and  realisBc  scaling  down  of  our  consumpBon  and   polluBon.     •     
  31. 31. Rowan  Williams  –  Faith  in  the  Public  Square,  p5   • But  it  is  the  same  concern  that  ought  to  inform  our  response   to  economic  crisis,  where  it  is,  once  again,  a  mythology  of   control  and  guaranteed  security,  combined  with  the  fantasy   that  unlimited  material  growth  is  possible,  that  has  poisoned   social  and  poliMcal  life  across  a  growing  number  of  countries.   No  theologian  has  automaMc  skill  in  economics,  but  there  is   an  ethical  perspecBve  here,  plainly  rooted  in  theology,  that   obliges  us  to  quesMon  the  nostrums  of  recent  decades,  and   above  all  persistently  to  ask  the  awkward  quesMon  of  what   we  want  growth  for,  what  model  of  well-­‐being  we  actually   assume  in  our  economics.    
  32. 32. “Theology  …  has  a  role  in   arBculaBng  and  displaying  some   of  the  ways  in  which  the  church   contributes  to  the  public  good.”   hhp://­‐doctrine-­‐maher-­‐some-­‐thoughts-­‐from  
  33. 33. As  an  atheist…  I  have  a  strong  spiritual  side….     For  me,  faith  originates  within  me,  influenced  by  the  world   that  I  am  in,  but  it  is  first  and  foremost  a  personal  venture.  Of   course,  it  affects  how  I  live.  Anything  to  do  with  meaning  and   the  'more'  to  life  has  to,  I  think.  I  don't  subscribe  to  a  religion   but  a  lot  of  the  Mme  I  enjoy  talking  to  and  living  alongside   those  who  do.  Their  beliefs  can  be  inspiring  and  thought-­‐ provoking  and  challenging,  and  I  value  them  as  people  and   so  I  like  that  conversaBon  being  a  public  one  -­‐  and  hope  it  is   respechul.  I  think  faith  is  less  likely  to  become  oppressive  or   dangerous  if  there  is  a  very  strong  personal  convicMon  and  it  is   not  just  treated  as  a  social  way  of  life  with  everything  coming   from  outside  of  you   Miranda  Cooper-­‐Beglin  
  34. 34. Trigg,  p234   Those  who  see  some  religions  as   dangerous  should  acknowledge  that   pushing  religion  into  the  dark   recesses  of  private  life  merely  shields   it  from  public  scruBny  and  criBcism.    
  35. 35. EducaBon  
  36. 36. The  (New)  Guide  Promise   I  promise  that  I  will  do  my  best:   To  be  true  to  myself  and  develop  my  beliefs,   To  serve  the  Queen  and  my  community,   To  help  other  people   And  to  keep  the  (Brownie)  Guide  law.   hhp://­‐promise/     @hstanley_  
  37. 37. *  The  State  and  formal  religion:  yes  or  no?   *  PoliMcians  expressing  beliefs:  yes  or  no?   *  Teaching  faith  in  educaMon:  yes  or  no?   Discuss  
  38. 38. A  Personal  Faith?  
  39. 39. “The  real  bahles  of  faith  today  are  being  fought  in   factories,  shops,  offices  and  farms,  in  poliMcal  parMes   and  government  agencies,  in  countless  homes,   in  press,  radio  and  tv,  in  the  relaMonship  of  the   naMons.  Very  oJen  it  is  said  that  the  Church  should  go   into  those  spheres  but  the  fact  is  that  the  Church  is   already  in  those  spheres  in  the  persons  of  the  laity.”   World  Council  of  Churches  1955   H/T  @jaybutcher  
  40. 40. “No  life  of  faith  can  be  lived   privately.  There  must  be   overflow  into  the  lives  of   others.”  C.S.  Lewis   H/T  @jaybutcher  
  41. 41. Life’s  a  Peach  and  Not  an  Orange
  42. 42. Peter,  always  the  first  to  speak   and  act  in  support  of  Jesus,  and   fearless  of  making  public   statements  about  his  faith,  now   speaks  just  as  impulsively  in   denial,  simply  to  save  his  own   skin.  In  this  moment  of  danger   he  aEempts  what  is  ulBmately   impossible  –  to  stay  faithful   only  in  private.     Giving  It  Up,  p193   Maggi  Dawn   Image Source: Premier Christian Media
  43. 43. • If  being  a  ChrisMan  is  loving  God  and  loving  others,   even  if  I  don't  announce  why  I'm  doing  something,   my  faith  is  unavoidably  in  *public.*  Heather  Stanley   •   I  would  suggest/argue  that  faith  is  already  'out   there',  that  all  things  in  the  words  of  Rob  Bell  are   spiritual  so  to  suggest  that  there  is  no  place  for  it  is   the  wrong  quesMon...  its  there  anyway.  As  we  listen   to  life  and  the  world  the  quesBons  of  faith  are  all   around  us.  Rob  Wylie   • Agree  with  Rob.  I  don't  believe  in  a  separaBon   between  secular  and  spiritual  so  how  can  faith  NOT   be  everywhere.  Heather  Stanley  
  44. 44. I  think  that  faith  naturally  overflows  into   public  life,  if  it  is  deep,  mature  and  confident.   (Not  over  confident  which  can  be  harmful).   And  if  faith  is  held  at  that  level,  it  will  pervade   all  our  life,  both  public  and  private.  Faith  can't   be  kept  in  a  box  and  troEed  out  to  suit  an   occasion.  It's  something  intrinsically  linked  to   our  'being'  that  makes  us  who  we  are.     Ernie  Feasey  
  45. 45. • Faith  can  be  personal,  but  it  was  never  meant  to  be  private...   Therefore  it  has  to  interact  with  public  life,  because  faith  is  a  very  part   of  our  being...  That  said,  ChrisMans  are  not  to  force/compel  others  to   hold  their  standard  (what  ever  that  is!)...  That  said,  ChrisBans  should   be  allowed  in  the  public  discussion,  simply  because  they  are  humans,   and  free  speech  is  part  of  human  rights...  Hope  that  makes  some   semblance  of  sense!    Dave  Roberts   • But  Faith  in  the  Public  Square  is  about  whether  faith  has  a  place  in   public  life  in  general  -­‐  in  poliMcs,  in  government,  in  university  research   and  so  on.  It  isn't  just  about  whether  ChrisBans  should  be  publicly   ChrisBan  -­‐  that's  obvious.  It's  the  issue  you  have  in  the  States  about   the  separaMon  of  state  and  religion  but  the  rather  fuzzier  mix  we  have   in  the  UK.  Pete  Phillips   • there  are  plenty  of  ChrisBans  who  keep  their  faith  private  and  never   talk  about  it  in  the  public  square...  and  it  maybe  obvious  to  you  and  I,   but  it  isn't  to  them...  Dave  Roberts  
  46. 46. @MurielSowden   If you have faith, then you live that faith 24/7. Not something that can be switched off in differing contexts.
  47. 47. • I  think  we  need  to  look  for  and  experience  faith  in   every  walk  of  life,  whether  it  be  personal,  or  public.   If  we  don't  show  it,  we  may  be  denying  it  to   someone  else.  For  some  people  sadly  we  may  be  the   only  contact  they  have  with  someone  of  faith.  So  we   need  to  share  our  experiences  wherever  and   whenever  we  can  without  going  over  the  top  and   coming  off  as  some  religious  nuher.  (In  the  nicest   possible  sense)     • Pennie  Ley  
  48. 48.    #DIGIdisciple   • We  all  have  something  to   contribute  to  the  digital   space:   • Living  24/7  for  God   • Online/Offline,  not  Virtual/ Real   • Are  we  the  same  person,   living  by  the  same  values  in   both  ‘spaces’?   Image Credit: The Worship Cloud
  49. 49. The  Methodist  Church  social  media  policy:     • Be  credible.  Be  accurate,  fair,  thorough  and  transparent.   • Be  consistent.  Encourage  construcMve  criMcism  and  deliberaMon.   • Be  cordial,  honest  and  professional  at  all  Mmes.  Be  responsive.  When  you  gain   insight,  share  it  where  appropriate.   • Be  integrated.  Wherever  possible,  align  online  parMcipaMon  with  other   communicaMons.   • Be  a  good  representaMve  of  the  Methodist  Church.  Remember  that  you  are  an   ambassador  for  Christ,  the  Church  and  your  part  of  it.  Disclose  your  posiMon   as   a  member  or  officer  of  the  Church,  making  it  clear  when  speaking  personally.   Let  GalaBans  5:22–26  guide  your  behaviour  (fruits  of  the  spirit).   • Be  respec•ul:  respect  confidenMality.  Respect  the  views  of  others  even  where   you  disagree.   • hDp://­‐and-­‐office-­‐holders/technology-­‐and-­‐church/social-­‐media-­‐guidelines    
  50. 50. *  Can  you  have  a  ‘private’  faith?   *  Do  you  believe  in  something  enough  to  die  for  it?   *  Any  parMculariMes  of  the  digital  age?   Discuss  
  51. 51. Dr  Bex  Lewis   Research  Fellow  in  Social  Media  &   Online  Learning   CODEC,  St  John’s  College,  Durham   Director,  Digital  Fingerprint   T:  @drbexl   F:  /drbexl   W: