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Symposium on the role of religion in European public life

When:Fr 02-12-2016 09:30 - 13:00
Where:Location: Lisbon Room of the Renaissance Brussels Hotel, Rue de Parnasse 19, 1050 Brussels

The aim of the symposium, organized by the Conference of European Churches (CEC), the University of Groningen's Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain and the Bahá'í International Community, is to create a space for an informal, exploratory and ongoing conversation between policymakers, practitioners and academics to examine the changing religious landscapes of Europe and to reflect on the role of religion in European public life. The hope is that these discussions will be relevant to actors working on a range of issues and topics — such as migration, education, identity, social cohesion, and foreign policy — where questions about religion and secularism regularly arise.

The discussions will be organized around questions such as: How is the concept of religion used in European discourse today? Are there different ways of conceptualizing religion? Are there ways we can think meaningfully about religion’s constructive potentialities and move beyond the increasingly prominent discourse on religion as either "victim" or "oppressor"? Do the different forms of secularism view religion in different ways? To what extent do distinctions between “secular” and “religious” actors hinder the goal of creating a pattern of public discourse to which all people can meaningfully contribute?

We plan to capture some of the insights that emerge at the symposium in the form of a working document that will be used to organise subsequent symposia and conferences. In this way, we hope that the conversation can continue and evolve over time and can lead to the establishment of a broad network of collaborators who are thinking about the role of religion in European society.