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  • Religion and class

    by Rumbold
    20th March, 2010 at 6:38 pm    

    This debate on the 25th March looks interesting:

    Class has traditionally shaped the identity in the UK, but does faith now predominate? It is certainly the case that politicians, academics and popular media now focus more on the latter.

    This debate raises this pivotal question at a time when the UK public is about to decide on its next government and thus make important choices about who best reflects and appeals to their increasingly complex and diverse senses of identity. At such times, we first need to reflect on who we are and what primarily defines us and drives our choices…

    To register, please e-mail[at] by 20th March.

    Class has certainly played a part in shaping some people’s identities, but, as with so many issues, how do you define it? When does someone move from being working class to middle class, or upper class, or vice versa? What tips the balance- wealth, income, job, connections, location, mentality, race or something else?

    I don’t doubt that faith (or rather religion) has re-emerged as a more important issue than it was before. Centuries ago religion was one of the most, if not the most, important issue in this country. Men and women were prepared to die for their beliefs, laws were put in place to both help and hinder religious minorities, and a change in your faith might turn you from a community leader to a community outcast (or, as Alexandra Walsham has shown, it might not). By the end of the 19th century though, religion on the British mainland (i.e. excluding Ireland) mattered a lot less, with the non-conformist test acts repealed and the introduction of Roman Catholic emancipation. The gradual post-war drift away from organised Christian worship merely exacerbated this.

    It is only in the last ten years or so that religion has remerged as a really noticeable feature of political debate, thanks in part to terrorism and the influx of people from more religious societies. The internet too has helped to spread information. Yet has this identity become more important than class? Can we generalise? I’m not sure.

    You need to book your place today for the debate next week.

    (Hat-Tip: Jai and BMSD)

                  Post to

    Filed in: British Identity,Current affairs,History

    8 Comments below   |  

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    1. pickles

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    1. soru — on 20th March, 2010 at 9:40 pm  

      I think you’d probably need to distinguish between class as a chosen identity, like religion and so on, and class as a thing that continues to exist even if you don’t believe in it.

    2. Laban — on 20th March, 2010 at 10:02 pm  

      “It is only in the last ten years or so that religion has remerged as a really noticeable feature of political debate”

      Good to see that British understatement is not dead.

      Did you have any particular religion in mind ?

    3. Rumbold — on 21st March, 2010 at 9:58 am  


      Did you have any particular religion in mind ?

      Islam, the sharpening of Hinduism and Sikhism (as opposed to a more pan-Asian identity), a more aggressive Christianity.

    4. douglas clark — on 21st March, 2010 at 10:17 am  

      soru @ 1 nearly makes my case. I thought about this years ago, and don’t think I fit into any particular class. Marketing folk might think otherwise, but who cares about them!

      But is is probably reasonable to assume that other folk will categorise me as suits them.

      I have banged on about this for ages here, but the vast majority of British citizens pay, at best lip service to religion. Your good host originally made the point that ‘community leaders’ were kings with no clothes. I’d have rather thought that, if you look at the extent of religious influence rather than noise, it has rather diminished over the lifetime of this web site.

    5. Rumbold — on 21st March, 2010 at 1:49 pm  

      I am closing the comments because of the large amount of spam this post is attracting. Apologies.

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