8 February 2013 12:17

A new series of the Westminster Faith Debates which will examine religion and personal life will start on 13 February. The debates will address how faith, in its diversity, contributes to our understanding of a good life and a good death. Topics will include abortion, sex, the family and assisted dying. Each debate brings together a range of religious and secular voices to discuss controversial issues, informed by recent research and new findings from a specially commissioned YouGov survey.

Organised and chaired by Professor Linda Woodhead from Lancaster University together with former Home Office minister the Rt Hon Charles Clarke, who is a Visiting Professor at Lancaster, the series has succeeded in putting religion back onto the agenda of public discussion in the UK, and has attracted extensive media coverage. The last series concluded with a debate between former Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and the former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore.

Westminster Faith Debates 2013
Religion and Personal Life

Stem cell research, abortion and the ‘soul of the embryo’?
Professor John Harris, Dr Gerard J Hughes SJ, Prof David Albert Jones, Dr Abdul Majid Katme
Wednesday 13 February

Too much sex these days – the sexualisation of society?
Professor Donna Freitas, Dr Jenny Taylor, Maureen Kendler, Catherine Pepinster
Wednesday 27 February

Is it right for religions to treat men and women differently?
Fatima Barkatullah, Rabbi Harvey Belovski, Mary Ann Sieghart, Professor Linda Woodhead
Thursday 14 March

What’s a traditional family and do we need it?
Professor Rosalind Edwards, Polly Toynbee, Prof Ronald Hutton, Dr Andrew Goddard
Wednesday 27 March

Do Christians really oppose same-sex marriage?
Professor Stephen Holmes, Professor John Milbank. Prof Tina Beattie, Lord Deben (John Selwyn Gummer) , Steve Chalke FULL
Thursday 18 April

Should we legislate to permit assisted dying?
Lord Charles Falconer, Dr Giles Fraser, Baroness Ilora Finlay, Professor Rob George
Thursday 2 May

All debates are free of charge and take place between 5.30 pm and 7.00 pm (followed by drinks reception) at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster SW1P 3EE To register for a place please contact p.ainsworth@lancaster.ac.uk with the name, institution (if applicable) and email address of each person you wish to register, or tel. 01524 510826 here for further details.

The debates are funded by Lancaster University, the AHRC and the ESRC. They are being previewed every preceding week in The Tablet.

Previous Westminster Faith Debates have included speakers such as PPR’s Professor Kim Knott and public figures such Richard Dawkins and Baroness Julia Neuberger. The series has received extensive media coverage including the BBC Today Programme, Big Questions, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph, Guardian, Daily Mail and Evening Standard. Andrew Brown of The Guardian said: “The Westminster Faith Debates have been the most interesting and successful attempt I can remember to talk about what all people believe and why this really matters. Essential for anyone who wants to understand Britain today, and tomorrow.”