Coexist House Head of Programmes speaks out on Tesco advert
Responding to the controversy over a Tesco advert for reduced prices on beer and cider with the accompanying message "Good Friday just got better". Our Head of Programmes, Michael Wakelin, was interviewed for "Five Live Daily - with Sam Walker". The story due to powerful social media interest was picked up by BBC News
As Michael explained, "Religion is all around us and in order to be a cohesive and peaceful society we need to learn to respect each other's opinions and beliefs. Understanding how religion is important to so many people in our country and the wider world is a pre-requisite for us to Coexist. Once we understand each other we can move from mere tolerance to deep respect and enable religion to be perceived more as an asset than a liability. The Tesco advert revealed that there is a need for better religious literacy".
EY launches religious literacy training
programme for organisations
EY has announced the launch of Religious Literacy for Organisations (RLO), a diversity and inclusion training program designed to help organizations better understand religious inclusion and its positive impact on business process and performance. Developed in collaboration with Coexist House, an organization dedicated to transforming public understanding of the practices and perspectives of the world’s religions, and with research from Professor Adam Dinham, an expert in faith and public policy at Goldsmiths, University of London, the program can support organizations and their people to take effective steps toward religious literacy and their perceptions of religious diversity. Adam Dinham, says:
“The concept of religious literacy starts from the observation that there is a lack of understanding about religion and belief in the workplace. However, it is not about religious education, or necessarily about having more religion in the workplace, rather, it is about having the confidence and skills to deal effectively and positively with religion and belief issues when they occur.”
Kamran Malik, EY Global Learning and Digital Engagement Leader, People Advisory Services, says:
“Rather than taking a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, the EY RLO toolkit provides a framework that can be integrated into a business’s existing suite of inclusive learning tools to amplify and add value to working relationships. Its application can help businesses recognize that a religious diversity framework can be used to support team cohesion, satisfaction and performance; attract and retain talent, customers, clients and partners; as well as enhance stakeholder experience and client relations.”
For the full EY press release see here.
Deepening Encounters between Faith Leaders
Coexist House is proud to continue to support the Senior Faith Leadership Programme, run by community interest group, Faith in Leadership.
It is now in its fifth year and in January, this year's cohort is embarked on the first of three residential modules in the beautiful setting of St George's House at Windsor Castle.
While training for faith leaders is wide-ranging and varied, nowhere in the UK are mid- to senior religious decision makers trained in leadership skills side by side. The SFLP is intended to deepen encounters between those who are serving the Abrahamic communities in Britain, whether in a lay or clerical capacity. The programme will explore the resources that each tradition offers for effective leadership and looks for the forms of coexistence and friendship that are possible between traditions that remain distinct and different. The aim is to learn to lead in contexts of change, where we can live well with disagreement, and to disagree more fruitfully and intelligently.
Our Director of Programmes, Michael Wakelin who co-facilitates the programme, says:
“It has been a real honour to witness the transforming power of this programme, to see entrenched attitudes change and the most unlikely friendships formed. For me it embodies the work and vision of Coexist House.”
Do look out for further news about the programme throughout the year ahead.
Online Religious Literacy for Organisations Officially Launched
On Tuesday 8th November 2016, Ernst & Young launched our breakthrough online training programme Religious Literacy for Organisations at their More London HQ. The event was hosted by Senior EY Partner Kamran Malik and Professor Adam ]Dinham and outlined the content and approach of the course.
Religious literacy is not about religious education, or about having more religion in the workplace, it's about having the confidence and skills to deal effectively and positively with religion and belief issues when they occur. Research has shown that recognising religious diversity within the workplace can improve recruitment and retention, and help maintain an inclusive culture. As Professor Dinham commented, "By demonstrating religious literacy, an organisation is signalling to all employees that the environment is a safe space to bring your 'whole self' to work".
More than 60 people attended the launch, alongside faith scholars, dignitaries and EY clients, including representatives from No.10, the Metropolitan Police and the BBC, all engaging in this critical topic for organisations in both the public and private sectors. The other speakers were Sir Roger Gifford, a Coexist House Trustee, the UK Head of Skandinaviska Enskilda Bank since 2000 and former Lord Mayor of London in 2012-13 and EY’s Head of the National Equality Standard Arun Batra.
Other notable attendees included Dame Mary Marsh, founder of Clore Social Leadership and Non-executive Director at HSBC, David Pollock, former President of the British Humanist Association and Dr Fiona Bartels-Ellis (OBE), the Head of Equal Opportunity and Diversity at the British Council as well as the Prime Minister’s adviser on religious affairs.
The programme is now available through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professor Dinham and Sir Roger Gifford also appeared on Radio 4’s Sunday Programme on 13th November in a feature about Religious literacy in business.
Welcoming our new Project Lead
Coexist House is delighted to welcome our new Project Lead, Fatimah Ashrif. Fatimah joins us with a wealth of experience from the legal and philanthropic worlds. She has a keen interest and commitment to the inter-faith space, the seeds for which (she says) were sown during her undergraduate years whilst reading Divinity at the University of Cambridge. We are thrilled that she is joining the team.
At the Southbank: Belief and Beyond Belief. For Good or For Ill How Has Religion Shaped Society and Can Spirituality have Style?
. In May, the fifth weekend of the “Belief and Beyond Belief”, season with South Bank the festival will explore “For Good or For Ill: How Has Religion Shaped Society?”
A panel discussion will consider issues ranging from holy war to the treatment of women as second class citizens, past and present censorship of science, art and literature, to campaigning against safe sex, The panelists will be asked to address the question: is religion always the enemy of progress and growth? Or does this overlook the hope and purpose which gives to millions around the world and religious contributions to global cultures.
The panel includes Trupti Patel, President of the Hindu Forum of Britain; Shaista Aziz, an English journalist, writer, stand-up comedian and former international aid worker; Christopher Jamison OSB, a Benedictine monk and former Abbot of Worth Abbey who appeared in BBC TV series The Monastery; and writer Theo Hobson, whose most recently published book is God Created Humanism: The Christian Basis of Secular Values.
There will also be an exciting discussion over Faith and Fashion, How does religion relate to fashion? Can spirituality have style? Hear from panelists as they talk about these issues, along with questions as to whether the fashion industry should respond to people who want to express their faith and spirituality through their clothes. Speakers include: - Shelina Janmohamed, Vice President of Ogilvy Noor, a branding and advertising consultancy for building engagement with Muslim audiences. Nafisa Bakkar, one of the co-founders of amaliah.com, curating modest fashion and amplifying the voices of Muslim women and Simon Ward MBE, who worked for the British Fashion Council for 30 years, latterly as Chief Operating Officer, with responsibility for running London Fashion Week.
Exploring New Horizons for Scriptural Reasoning
Coexist House and the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme will be at The British Islam Conference on the weekend of 25-26 February 2017 to bring Scriptural Reasoning (SR) to a whole new audience.
Now in its second year, The British Islam conference, organized by New Horizons, ‘promotes collaboration and thinking around the idea of a British Islam and encourages the development of British Muslim thought, identity and culture’. With over 40 high profile speakers and artists, and a keynote address by Karen Armstrong, this event is not to be missed!
Coexist House is keen to take scriptural reasoning to new audiences as a means of encouraging better understanding between those of different faiths. It provides an opportunity to explore one’s own and other’s sacred texts, showing mutual hospitality and modeling ‘better quality disagreement’. As such SR is a perfect fit for the conference, which is an open space for discussions, debates and sharing ideas.
As Professor Ben Quash of King’s College, London, a friend of Coexist House wrote in the Church Times earlier this year:
"It's time of joint study across or around a table, the texts are read aloud, pored over, sifted, probed, challenged, and in this very process the people reading the texts together also find themselves being sifted, probed and challenged. Ideas are proposed and tested in relation to the texts, and are argued for and against by the participants. Risks are taken as interpretations are offered. Shared norms sometimes emerge and sometimes do not, but in both cases the participants are exposed to a greater awareness of their own presuppositions. Everyone simultaneously plays the role of a teacher and a learner. The texts are a sort of ‘host’ for the overall dialogue."
Find out more about the conference including the Scriptural Reasoning Workshop which will be open to all, see here
To see the complete article by Professor Ben Quash, click here
Supporting South Bank: Belief and Beyond Belief
Coexist House is proud to have worked with the Southbank Centre to develop a series of weekend events which will be delivered throughout 2017. The season called “Belief and Beyond Belief” explores the music, art, culture, science, philosophy, ritual and traditions that have risen out of religion in its many guises.
The second weekend earlier this month focused on the relationship between science and religion with a keynote lecture on “The God of the Gaps” by Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, and Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science, a post previously held by Richard Dawkins. The Southbank have reported, “excellent ticket sales” to date.
Next month, the festival looks at death, and dying traversing the sensitive and controversial issues around this subject. Various talks will through panel discussions explore different beliefs on what happens after death, the right to die: the assisted dying debate, burial rites: from Viking funerals to the present looking at the different ways people commemorate those who have gone before us, how we live with death, and whether a belief in a life after death makes a difference to how we live.
A whole session will also explore ‘how to live’. A panel of experts and writers will draw on a broad range of teachings and philosophies to discuss what makes a good life and what we can do to make the most of here and now. Speakers include Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds also known as ‘The Blogging Bishop’, and Sarah Bakewell, author of How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer.
Make sure you are part of these conversations. See details of the talks here
Station of the Cross 2017
Coexist House is delighted to be part of Stations of the Cross, an exhibition which is so far has spanned London and America and for 2017 will be taking place in 14 iconic locations in Washington D.C.
Coexist House is, for the first time, sponsoring an inter-faith space at the Greenbelt Festival. The Canvas tent will be a place of welcome for all in which Scriptural Reasoning with the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme features daily alongside a programme of other engaging talks, presentations and debates.
Botticelli at the V&A
Friends of Coexist House enjoyed a tour of the V&A's sensational Botticelli Reimagined exhibition, led by Coexist House Trustee Rev Robin Griffith Jones. The tour opened up themes of beauty and transcendence in Botticelli's art, in contrast with some of the more earthed commercial spin-offs of Botticelli's works in more recent times.
British Museum education events and private viewing
Following on from two Scriptural Reasoning events which we staged for the British Museum as part of inter-faith week, Coexist House was given the opportunity to treat a group of partners and supporters to a tour of the Museum's Egypt; Faith after the Pharaohs exhibition. We were shown round by the exhibition’s curator Amandine Merat, who shared great insight and knowledge.
The viewing was followed by breakfast and further conversation.