The Network for Religion in Public Life aims to address key questions about modern life, such as the balance between security and human rights, freedom of religion and of expression, and how religion should fit in with the law.

About the Network

We live in a multi-faith and secularist world where religion has an increasing influence on national and international politics but few societies have mobilised religious resources for reconciliation, healing and public wisdom. A fundamental challenge for our times is not only the respectful recognition of differences but mutually critical engagement for the sake of the public good, in ways that promote social and political mechanisms of deliberation, representation, participation and accountability.

A huge range of concerns relating to every sphere of life is potentially at issue – the interaction between religious individuals and/or communities and the state; the presence of religious representatives in the body politic; how religion impinges upon education and contributes to public values; religion as the subject of public policy, judicial ruling and administrative regulation; how religion affects foreign affairs; and much more.

Some of the most pressing concerns arise at points of tension between ethics and legal claims cast in a language of universalism and particularist cultural and religious identities. In a supposedly post-metaphysical and godless age, ethical and legal norms are no longer held to be written in nature and no metaphysic seems to integrate the plurality of worldviews with respect to basic and social goods. In this context, faith communities have important contributions to make to the construction of jurisprudential theory capable of sustaining human rights conventions and other ethical obligations that take the form of law.

Founded in 2007, The Network for Religion in Public Life (NRPL) is an interdisciplinary research partnership that links students and staff at the University of Exeter and partner institutions who share interests in how religion interacts with public life.

The Network promotes understanding and co-operation between academics and religious communities, and serves as a forum in the South West of England for debate about relevant issues to be conducted in an open and creative manner.

Areas of particular interest include:

  • Religion in public life
  • Cultural diversity, belief pluralism and political theory
  • Global human rights discourses
  • Legal and theological perspectives on natural law
  • Social and political co-operation between faith communities
  • The common good in theology, philosophy, ethics and political science
  • Religion and pragmatism
  • Public reasoning in democracies
  • Theologies of forgiveness in political contexts
  • Religious freedom and the law

Anyone with an active interest in these matters is invited to get involved.