Chester Academic to advise Civil Servants on ‘the place of God in government’

An academic from the department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Chester will address an audience of civil servants on the role of religion in British politics. Dr Chris Baker will seek to answer the question, ‘How should governments do God?’ during an event at Goldsmiths, University of London, on Wednesday 12 March. He is Senior Lecturer in Public and Urban Theology at the University of Chester, and Director of the William Temple Foundation.

Dr Baker will speak alongside panellists including Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord Singh of Wimbledon and Warwick Hawkins, head of the Faith Engagement team at the Department for Communities and Local Government. The event aims to strengthen the religious literacy of civil servants from across the policy spectrum, and to understand what resources, training and support is needed to help them in engaging more effectively with faith groups.

Speaking in advance of the event, Dr Chris Baker said, ‘Increasing numbers of leaders are more open than ever to allowing space for progressive (i.e. outward-looking) religion to share its wisdom, experience and resources with the wider public. Yet my research suggests a need for acknowledging not just what faith groups offer in terms service provision, but also the importance of understanding why faith groups do what they do. It is often when addressing the ‘why’ of faith-based action that some people outside faith communities are hesitant or nervous, and I hope that this event will help to overcome some of these tensions.’ 

Mapping and analysing the role and identity of faith in urban life, Dr Baker’s research addresses the role of religion in civil society and social policy. His recent publications include Postsecular Cities – space, theory and practice (Continuum, 2011) and Christianity and the New Social Order (SPCK, 2011). Dr Baker is also Director of the Centre for Faiths and Public Policy at the University of Chester.

How do governments do God? is the latest event in a series on Faith in the Public Realm organised by the Faiths and Civil Society Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London.