Professor Francis Davis gave a paper at an international conference hosted by the University of Leuven on May 19, 2017. The conference focused on Church-Religion-State Challenges in the context of emerging proposals from Belgian policy makers to replicate the French legal policy of laicite in the Belgian constitution.
The audience of ministerial advisors, academics, and researchers heard Davis describe his own research which has explored the economic and social impact of religious organisations. By measuring 'religion' as an industrial sector rather than an idea, he suggested, it becomes a source of economic and civic capital that any government might need to take seriously lest its own costs rise. More pointedly, Davis argued that there is hardly any other policy area where the reductive application of 'what people think is what they do' is applied whether that be in obesity, transport, health or education. Following the conference Davis is now advising colleagues at Leuven and the think tank Logia on their plans to undertake the first ever economic impact study of Belgian's religious institutions.
Professor Francis Davis is Professor of Communities, Religion and Public Policy at the University of Birmingham and Director of Public Policy of The Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion