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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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Controversies of ‘public faith’

Controversies of ‘public faith’

(p.20) (p.21) Two Controversies of ‘public faith’
Faith in the public realm

Robert Furbey

Policy Press

This chapter investigates some basic philosophical, theological and socio-political controversies that underpin the place of faith in the public realm. It considers two relevant questions: Should religious faith have an organised presence in the public realm? What are, and what might be, the consequences of a faith presence? Specifically, the chapter addresses a strong secularist critique of ‘public religion’ in the UK. It examines the strong secularist stance of Sam Harris, A.C. Grayling and Christopher Hitchens who strongly argued that: first, religion is irrational and at odds with science and evidence-based dialogues; second, religion is a source of conflict and division; and third, religion is oppressive and a hindrance to free speech, political democracy and personal liberty as well as a threat to neutral public secular space.

Keywords:   faith, public realm, religious faith, secularist critique, public religion, Sam Harris, A.C. Grayling, Christopher Hitchens, religion

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