Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Religion and Diplomacy Training
The LSE Faith Centre is working with the FCO to provide training for diplomats in religious perspectives and how they interact with global affairs. This training draws on the Faith Centre’s expertise in delivery of Faith & Leadership, and its focus on Religious Imaginations. Each course draws on speakers from across LSE and beyond, from believers from within multiple religious imaginations, experts who have studied them from outside and speakers in diplomacy or wider public life seeking to navigate these religious imaginations, to harness their social capital, to build bridges between them, or to engage them in issues of wider public concern.
A rich and informative exposition of the importance of religion in global political life and the opportunities for the FCO to harness its influences.
Resilient religious communities
Egypt is facing continued instability through increased religion-related violence which is affecting all religious communities. Most recently there have been several instances of interreligious violence, most notably an increase in the amount of attacks on Egypt’s Christian community. Egypt’s size, strategic position, and its importance as a bellwether for the region means that dealing effectively, sensitively and appropriately with this increase in violence is one of the most important activities for regional stability.
Resilient Religious Communities aims to strengthen interfaith relations between Muslims and Christians in Egypt which have deteriorated since the revolution of 2011. It does this through the establishment and evaluation of scriptural reasoning in Cairo and Alexandria which brings Christians and Muslims together to discuss their sacred texts.
Interfaith relations are well developed in Cairo but their future is uncertain. The current senior leaders have good relationships across traditions but they will soon retire; relations between future religious leaders are not as well established and some are sceptical of their value. This initiative will involve younger scholars at Al-Azhar University who are crucial to the long-term continuity of established interfaith relationships in Cairo.
The project is a partnership between University of Birmingham, the London School of Economics, Global Covenant Partners and the University of Virginia. It is supported by the Global Covenant of Religions through the Rose Castle Foundation. The project is currently in its pilot stage with feasibility workshops being planned in Cairo and Alexandria.
Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees
The LSE Faith Centre is proud to be a participating organisation in the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, the United States’ leading interfaith response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Founded by Dr Georgette Bennett, President of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, the alliance enlists the moral authority, convening and mobilizing power of religious and civil society leaders to address the ongoing suffering of Syria's war victims.
Comprised of nearly 90 participating organizations, MFA is a coordinating body, a network, and a vehicle for harnessing the power of the faith-based and civil society collective. Dr Bennett delivered the first Faith & Leadership lecture at the LSE Faith Centre.
Religious Imaginations: How narratives of faith are shaping today's world
In June 2017, the Faith Centre was delighted to convene Religious Imaginations and Global Transitions: How narratives of faith are shaping today's world in partnership with Gingko and in association with the Barenboim-Said Akademie, Berlin and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The accompanying book from the conference can be found here.
The causes of global transitions are numerous and complex. Market globalization, technology, climate change and post-colonial political forces are all forging a new world. But caught up in the mix are some powerful religious narratives that are galvanizing peoples and reimagining political and social order. Some are repressive, fundamentalist imaginations such as the so-called Islamic Caliphate. Others could be described as post-religious such as the evolution of universal human rights out of the European Christian tradition.
But the question of the compatibility of these religious worldviews, particularly those that have emerged out of the Abrahamic faith traditions, is perhaps the most pressing issue in global stability today. What scope for dialogue is there between the Jewish, Muslim and Christians ways of imagining the future? How can we engage with these multiple imaginations to create a shared peaceful future?
This conference took a trans-disciplinary approach to how religious narratives interact with the contemporary geopolitical climate, and drew together these often disconnected strands of religious motivations and the analysis of current affairs. Keynote speakers included Karen Armstrong OBE, Professor Mona Siddiqui OBE, Professor Craig Calhoun, HE John Casson, British Ambassador to Egypt, Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer and Bishop Anba Angaelos OBE.