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‘Religion in Public Life’ will be explored in this year’s University of Birmingham Edward Cadbury Lecture series. The lectures will examine the factors that have brought about changes in perceptions of religion on a local, national and global level.

A selection of the topics the series will cover include reassessing religion in London and  the associations between religion and urban life in a modern vibrant city, opening up two national debates sparked by Faith in the City and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, and exploring the role of religion in global social progress.     

Grace Davie, professor emeritus in the Sociology of Religion at the University of Exeter and a senior adviser to the Impact of Religion Research Programme at Uppsala University, is delivering this year’s lectures.

Professor Davie said: It is a commonplace to say that religion has returned to public life.  And like most commonplaces it is partially true.  Religion is most certainly present in public life in new and very visible ways but to imply that religion was once nowhere and is now everywhere is seriously misleading.  We need instead to enquire into the factors that have brought about the current shift in perspective.  That done, we must examine in detail the different – and at times contrasting – ways in which religion manifests itself is the very varied segments of society that we deem to be public.”

The Edward Cadbury Lectures are made possible by an endowment from the Cadbury family to the University of Birmingham that supports an annual series of lectures open to the public on the history, theology and culture of Christianity. The first Cadbury Lectures were delivered in 1948 by the historian Arnold Toynbee, who has been followed by a succession of eminent scholars from around the world. Themes in recent years have included ‘Seeing is Believing in Modern Christianity’ and ‘God Over All’.

Professor Davie’s lecture series, which runs until from 1st March to 10th March, is hosted by the Department of Theology and Religion.

Notes to editors

View the full programme online. All lectures will begin at 5.30pm and will run for approximately an hour and a half. A reception will follow on Tuesday 1st March and Thursday 10th March.

The lectures taking place on 1st, 3rd and 8th March will be held at the University of Birmingham Main Campus in Lecture Theatre WG5 in the Aston Webb Building.

The final lecture on 10th March will take place at the Library of Birmingham.

The lectures are free and open to all, but registration in advance is strongly recommended. To register, please visit the University of Birmingham’s online shop.

In addition to numerous chapters and articles, Professor Davie is the author of Religion in Britain since 1945 (Blackwell 1994), Religion in Modern Europe (OUP 2000), Europe: the Exceptional Case (DLT 2002), The Sociology of Religion (Sage 2007/2013) and Religion in Britain: A Persistent Paradox (Wiley-Blackwell 2015).


For further information, please contact Rebecca Hume in the University of Birmingham press office on +44 (0)121 414 9041. Out of hours, please call +44 (0)7789 921165 or email the press office.