"God and Social Cohesion - Help or Hindrance?": Seminar with Canon Dr Alan Billings

Thu, 26 May 2011 18:00 in Discussion Forums

Where: Room 313,Rose Bowl, Civic Quarter,Leeds Metropolitan University, LS1 3HB, Leeds
Time: 18:00
With: Canon Dr Alan Billings

Summary

The Dialogue Society, Leeds Branch, together with Leeds Metropolitan University’s Institute for Spirituality, Religion and Public Life, was delighted to welcome Canon Dr Alan Billings for a thought-provoking discussion of "God and Community Cohesion." He explored the journey that British society has taken since the end of the Second World War as our society has become more diverse and complex and as the government and civil society have responded to inter-cultural tensions in different ways. He highlighted the different ways, both positive and negative, in which religion can potentially affect social cohesion. Britain, he suggested, is uniquely placed to pioneer a society in which religion plays a positive role in social cohesion. Seminar participants included graduate students from the University of Leeds and representatives from local interfaith organisations. The presentation was followed by a lively discussion about the sustainability of community cohesion and how individuals and community initiatives can help improve cohesion among different ethnic and faith communities.

Abstract

Following the urban riots of 2001, and more recent terrorist attacks, community cohesion has replaced multiculturalism as the key social policy objective of both national and local government. Since these events were seen as having a religious dimension, they raise the question: is religion contributing to social cohesiveness or actually undermining it? In his 2009 book, "God and Community Cohesion: Help or Hindrance?", Alan Billings suggested that the positive influence of religion will be in proportion to the ability of the faiths to see pluralism as a gift from God, and to accept that we live in a diverse society where a plurality of beliefs and values will exist until the world ends. In this seminar Canon Dr Billings will elucidate this position, with reference to the UK’s current political, social and economic climate. Canon Dr Bilings' book, "God and Community Cohesion: Help or Hindrance?" will be available for sale after the event for a discounted promotional price of £10. Cash purchases only.

Biography of Alan Billings

Canon Dr Alan Billings has been an Anglican parish priest in Leicester, Sheffield and the Lake District. He has been a member of Leicester City Council and was Deputy Leader of Sheffield when David Blunkett was Leader. He was a member of the Community Cohesion Panel after the riots in the NW in 2001 and a member of the Government's faith experts panel until the election. He has also taught theology and ethics in theological colleges in Oxford and Birmingham and was Director of the Centre for Ethics and Religion at Lancaster University - where he headed a research project into attitudes towards faith and community in the NW. He is the author of: 'God and Community Cohesion. Help or Hindrance?'; 'Secular Lives, Sacred Hearts: the role of the church in a time of no religion'; 'Dying and Grieving'; 'Making God Possible'. He is a contrubutor to Thought for the Day, on BBC Radio 4's Today.

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