Values are the New Religion


'Values are the New Religion'. Professor Linda Woodhead, MBE DD, delivers the Edward Cadbury Lectures for 2021 


From organisational ‘value statements’ to ‘Fundamental British Values’, values are everywhere these days. Younger generations articulate their values with conviction and fluency. ‘If you’re not clear in your values, you’ll get lost in someone else’s’ says a popular Instagram post.

Why this new visibility of values and what does it tell us about ourselves, our institutions, our societies?  Addressing these questions, these Cadbury lectures take us to the heart of contemporary struggles to define – or evade – what really matters.

Linda WoodheadThis prestigious lecture series took place across the week of May 17-21. The lecture series is hosted  the Edward Cadbury Centre and the School of Philosophy, Theology, and Religion. .

Linda Woodhead MBE DD, Distinguished Professor, Lancaster University was educated in theology, ethics and religious studies at Cambridge University, and is a sociologist of religion, beliefs and values. 

Lecture 1: Personal Values

Monday 17 May, 18:00-19:30

The Christian ethic of service and self-sacrifice that shaped older generations has given way to a new ‘live your life’ ethic amongst younger ones. In the process, new cardinal sins like ‘abuse’ have emerged, while ‘care’ becomes an ambivalent value that we clap but do not reward. 

Lecture 2: Organisational Values

Tuesday 18 May, 18:00-19:30

Organisational value statements offer a window onto the values that are picked out by different types of organisations. Schools, universities, businesses and religious institutions are compared, as is how they go about selecting values – and what it really amounts to in practice. 

Lecture 3: Political and Economic Values

Thursday 20 May, 18:00-19:30

The political and economic realms buffet us with incompatible values, setting up tensions between global and national ethics, and between traditional bourgeois values and an enterprise culture that values disruption, competition and winning. In the midst of the confusion, individuals try to fulfil their dreams in the context of consumerism. 

Lecture 4: Culture Wars Revisited

Friday 21 May, 18:00-19:30

The online world brings value conflicts and transgressions into the open as never before.  Values divide as well as unite. Sifting through the evidence, the final lecture draws conclusions about our new religions of values and why we need them, and offers reflections on the difference between empty sloganizing and the genuinely valuable.


‘You people with hearts have something to guide you, and need never do wrong; but I have no heart, and so I must be very careful.’ ---the Tin Man in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion was established in 2014 to enhance the public understanding of religion regionally, nationally and internationally through distinctive, strategic and engaged interdisciplinary research. We deliver innovative, interdisciplinary, impact-driven and internationally-excellent research exploring the significance of religious belief and practice for public and professional life, working with faith communities and policymakers to develop informed agendas for social transformation.