London is bucking nationwide trends and becoming more religious. This research project seeks to map and analyse this phenomenon. (Upcoming)
In this report, Paul Bickley challenges assumptions about religious charities, arguing that there is little evidence that they proselytize as part of their community action. (2015)
Interested by this? Share it on social media. Join our monthly e–newsletter to keep up to date with our latest research and events. And check out our Friends Programme to find out how you can help our work.
Critics of religion argue that the threat of proselytism is one of the key reasons why faith–based organisations should not have a greater role in providing public services, or receive any public money.
The word, which traditionally simply meant the attempt to persuade someone to change their religion, now implies using power and position or taking advantage of the vulnerable to recruit new adherents. However, there’s confusion about the boundaries between what is and isn’t legitimate when it comes to the public articulation of faith.
The Problem of Proselytism explores three areas where faith–based organisations do need to exercise caution: prioritising the public good, respecting the dignity of religious and other minorities and protecting vulnerable service users. It argues that faith–based organisations don’t need to secularise in order to head off these concerns. Indeed, they should be transparent and consistent in setting out how what they do is different to purely secular providers, particularly when it comes to offering spiritual care. The report offers a rigorous analysis of the debate around proselytism today, drawing on the findings of a range of interviews. It describes ‘full fat’, ‘half fat’ and ‘low fat’ approaches to faith–based social action, arguing that each will and should have a different kind of relationship with statutory providers or funding.
The report calls for openmindedness from decision makers, with responsible and reflective social action on the part of faith–based organisations.
See other recent events and articles
Elizabeth Oldfield speaks to American actor, comedian, writer, director and producer Rainn Wilson. 20/05/2020Podcast
Madeleine Pennington introduces our series exploring historic responses to plagues and pestilence to see how pandemics change us. 15/05/2020In Brief
Theos researches and investigates the intersection of religion, politics and society in the contemporary world.