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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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(p.223) Twelve Conclusions
Faith in the public realm

Adam Dinham

Robert Furbey

Vivien Lowndes

Policy Press

This concluding chapter draws on the preceding chapters to determine the key themes in this volume. ‘Strong secularists’ argue that religion should be excluded from public life and the public realm and should be instead confined to private life. This argument stemmed from the notion that religion is a destructive ‘other’. However, in a wider assessment of public faith, the drawing of fixed binary divide and the ‘othering’ of faith and secularism is rather unfounded. Sharp and ongoing controversies, and science and rationalism failed to confront faith in a necessarily philosophical opposition. In terms of practical action, although there can be important organisations in the public realm, there is much common sentiment and practice in approaches to both caring and radical campaigning, and shared tensions experienced by organisations in their relationship with the state. Both the secular and the religious can engage in constructive deliberation and both can address arguments marked by unhelpful circularity. While some of public interventions by faith communities and organisations can be divisive, others are marked by their attempts to build dialogue, trust and negotiations of differences. All are operating in an ever more diverse and changing public realm which is not straightforwardly ‘neutral’ and which challenges both the liberalism of classical liberals and the capacity of faiths to address tensions between reform and tradition.

Keywords:   religion, public life, public realm, public faith, faith, secularism, faith communities, faith organisations

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