In recent months, we’ve seen a new confidence in talking about religion from the Coalition. In contrast with the last government’s reticence on the subject, we’ve had David Cameron extolling the virtues of the King James Version, and Michael Gove proposing to send a Bible to every school. Cameron went so far as to distinguish himself from Labour explicitly: “People often say politicians shouldn’t ‘do God.'” In fact, he said, politicians should recognise “both what our faith communities bring to our country… and also how incredibly important faith is to many people in Britain.”
Have we then moved from a government unprepared to engage with matters of faith, to a new dawn of understanding about the role of religion in public life?
Yes and no. New research, being presented at the first of a series of debates organised by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) “Religion and Society Programme,” former MP Charles Clarke and Theos, suggests the picture is more complex.