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Blackburn Conference: 15th December 2022

Rebuilding the public square: Religious engagement and the Temple tradition in post-pandemic Britain



15 December 2022

William Temple Foundation, Liverpool Hope University, and Blackburn Cathedral

This conference aims to examine the legacy of William Temple for inter-religious engagement in the public square after the pandemic in Britain. It builds on the William Temple Foundation conference in March 2022 which was held at Canterbury Cathedral to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the publication of Temple’s Christianity and the Social Order. The conference at Canterbury spoke of the Temple tradition as based on various principles.

Professor Chris Baker set out the social principles of the public space for Temple as based on ‘freedom, fellowship and service’ and Temple’s understanding of the welfare state which engages what he called ‘the intermediate groupings’. These intermediate groupings are free before the law and work towards a chosen goal to shape their own rationale of fellowship and service for the common good. The welfare state facilitates the flourishing of these local groupings who, in turn, play an intermediate role between individual citizens and the state.

The Blackburn conference will engage with Temple’s legacy of religious engagement in the public square in two ways. First, the historical legacy of Temple’s concern for Jewish Christian dialogue emerging out of the pastoral and ethical imperatives of the Holocaust in World War Two and its shaping of Jewish-Christian relations today. Second, given the local context of Blackburn and the wider East Lancashire, the conference will also focus on the potential legacy of Temple’s religious engagement for Christian-Muslim relationships in today’s pluralised and post-secular context. The questions that will therefore follow from these two points will bring different disciplines in the academy in conversation with local faith leaders.
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