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Archbishop Hosts China-UK Seminar on Religion and Society

The Archbishop with Chinese and British academics

Tuesday 12th February 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury hosted a study day with Chinese and British academics to consider the topic of "Religion and the Public Square".

The study day, chaired by the Archbishop on Friday 8 February, brought together eleven specialists from China and Britain, a combination of theologians, historians, sociologists and anthropologists. The discussion considered the ways that religion interacts with society both in China and Western Europe, and what role religion has to play in issues such as social cohesion in these different contexts.

The intention of this dialogue has been to build on the Archbishop's own encounters with academics during his visit to China in October 2006.

The Archbishop said, "This has been a most unusual and worthwhile encounter.  It has been fascinating to explore together the challenges presented in our different social contexts.  It is crucial that we understand better the rapidly changing place of religion in China today, and the serious attention now paid by Chinese scholars to religious issues and to the potential of faith for deepening the moral vision of society."

The day included discussion of papers by two of the British and two Chinese  participants, which consider the development of religion in contemporary European and Chinese society, and the ways in which different religions can relate to each other and to other philosophies in each of those situations.

The study day concluded with a dinner hosted by the Archbishop and Mrs Williams to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Archbishop with Chinese and British academics at Lambeth Palace

The participants were, in addition to the Archbishop:

Prof. Zhuo Xinping, Deputy Director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)

Prof. Gao Shining, Senior Researcher in the Sociology of Religion, CASS

Prof. Yang Huilin, Head of Department of Chinese Languages and Culture, Renmin University, Beijing

Prof. He Guanghu, Professor of Philosophy and Christian Studies, Renmin University, Beijing

Prof. Xu Jilin, Professor of Modern Chinese History, Shanghai Normal University

Prof. David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge

Prof. Grace Davie, Professor of Sociology, University of Exeter

Prof. Stephan Feuchtwang, Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science

Prof. Ben Quash, Professor of Christianity and the Arts, King's College London

Dr Alan Hunter, Senior Lecturer in History, International Relations and Politics, Coventry University

Dr David Cheetham, Senior Lecturer in Theology and Inter-Religious Relations, University of Birmingham

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