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Faith in the public realmControversies, policies and practices$
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Adam Dinham, Robert Furbey, and Vivien Lowndes

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781847420305

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847420305.001.0001

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Faith and the public realm

Faith and the public realm

(p.1) One Faith and the public realm
Faith in the public realm

Adam Dinham

Vivien Lowndes

Policy Press

The place of faith in the public realm has been one of the contested issues over a long period, involving conflicts that resonate across a spectrum of public feeling and thought. Some of these conflicts are embodied in the public imaginations or events such as the Reformation, the Crusades and the Inquisition which remain alive for many in a distant and generalised form of atrocities in the name of religion. Others have more immediate resonance because of their political and social implications for the lives of those important to an individual including the persons's own life. Such events include Kashmir, Iraq and Israel-Palestine or the so-called ‘war on terror’ (prompted by acts of religiously inspired terrorism) which reconstructs a beginning of a new ‘global history’ through the struggle of Islamic fundamentalism and Western democracy. In addition to these events that showed faith in the public realm is a difficult interplay of religion and politics, debates also arise on the significance of faith within the public spaces. Secularist arguments have emerged contesting and arguing that public faith is irrelevant and an anachronistically anomaly of contemporary times. This introductory chapter discusses the role of faith and faith-based groups in governance and civil society. It looks at how faith-based groups gain access and assure people that governmental policies and welfare services can address their needs. It also discusses the challenges faced by the ‘public faith’. The introductory chapter ends with a short discussion on the contents and subjects of the succeeding chapters.

Keywords:   faith, public realm, religion, public faith, role of faith, faith-based groups, governance, civil society

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