Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Research Seminar Series on “Religion and diversity”

08 December 2021–15 December 2021, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm


This seminar series on "Religion and diversity" will take place on Wednesdays. In the inaugural lecture, Prof. Myriam Hunter-Henin puts forward a three-step plan designed to create religiously inclusive societies.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni






Stephen M. Hart

1.“how can law foster religiously inclusive societies?” 

by Prof. Myriam hunter-henin, UCL Laws

WEDNESDAY 8 DECEMBER 2021 - 1.00-2.00 PM


The extent to which legal reasoning exacerbates or alleviates vulnerabilities of religious minorities is a longstanding question. The concern that the State, by endorsing the symbols or historical privileges of the majority religion, might marginalise religious minorities has for example permeated debates as to the appropriate form of constitutional Church/state arrangements or the display of majority religion symbols in state buildings. In recent years, the question has moved to the private employment/commercial sector. As a result, religion and diversity now often, in legal terms, generates a problem of clashing rights: religious interests of service providers clashing with equality interests of customers; religious interests of employers clashing with privacy and other competing interests of employees; religious interests of employees clashing with employers’ rights to conduct a business. As the inclusiveness towards religious minorities thus risks undermining inclusiveness on other grounds, the role of law and legal actors in fostering religiously inclusive societies is questioned both as to its feasibility and its very legitimacy. This presentation will address these new challenges. First as to the goal itself, it will argue that law should not abandon its aspiration to foster more religiously inclusive societies since, I will submit, such aspiration lies at the heart of democratic liberal societies. Secondly, as to feasibility, the presentation will put forward a three-step approach destined to guide legal reasoning towards that goal, without sacrificing conflicting rights.


2.“Losing our religion? Arguments and evidence”

by Prof. David Voas, UCL

WEDNESDAY 15 DECEMBER 2021 - 1.00-2.00 PM


One of the oldest ideas in sociology is the secularization thesis: the proposition that modernization creates problems for religion. Although religious involvement is declining across the Western world and no alternative account of religious change has displaced it, the thesis is controversial. Oddly, it is typically disputed by people who study religion and generally accepted by those who do not.

David will provide a brief overview of the theory, criticisms, recent developments and evidence from survey research. He argues that like industrialization, or greater equality for women, or reduced fertility, the secular transition is difficult to reverse. He concedes, however, that scholars have been more successful at showing how secularization happens than why it happens.


For further information email Stephen M. Hart at Stephen.malcolm.hart@ucl.ac.uk


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All welcome. This is a virtual event. Please note that there may be recording at some events. Please follow this FAQ link for more information. All our events are free but you can support the IAS here.