Cumberland Lodge discussions outline priorities for the UK’s faith and belief response

Faith & Belief 2040: Fostering Social Cohesion is a new, short report from Cumberland Lodge, summarising the key trends and ideas to emerge from a fortnight of multi-faith, cross-sector discussions held online in November 2020.

Image of a hand in silhouette, holding a glowing orb at sunset, representing human belief and ideas

Faith & Belief 2040: Fostering Social Cohesion is a new, short report from Cumberland Lodge, summarising the key trends and ideas to emerge from a fortnight of multi-faith, cross-sector discussions held online in November 2020.

Written by our freelance Research Associate, Hannah Timson, a former President of Humanist Students in the UK, it examines the rapidly changing faith and belief landscape of the UK and highlights key areas to focus on, over the next 20 years, to support social cohesion.

The full report can be read on-screen or downloaded here.

Exploring current trajectories

The societal changes that we set out to discuss included:

  • The diversification of religious worldviews, with a decline in ‘Anglican’ self-identification, and rising numbers of non-denominational Christians
  • The increasing diversity of modes of faith and belief practice within Christian communities
  • The increasing number of people (particularly younger people) who hold non-religious beliefs
  • The expansion and growing role of non-Christian faiths, in a culturally diverse society.

Working with Humanists UK and The Faith & Belief Forum, we brought together people of all ages, and diverse faith and non-faith perspectives, during the COVID-19 pandemic in November 2020, to explore what faith and belief in the UK might look like by 2040, based on current trajectories.

The conference sessions addressed four main topics:

  • Religious diversity – ongoing trends in the UK’s faith and belief landscape, and significant social, economic and political factors that are likely to influence them over the next 20 years
  • Impacts on identity – the role of faith and belief in shaping people’s identity and sense of belonging, and the potential for nurturing more inclusive forms of belonging across increasingly diverse communities
  • Social cohesion – the role that both people of faith and people with non-religious worldviews can play in promoting more inclusive and socially cohesive communities
  • Moral courage – exploring where moral courage (based on common ground and shared values) might come from in an increasingly non-religious and more religiously diverse society

The future of religious buildings

Faith & Belief 2040: Fostering Social Cohesion is accompanied by a Dialogue & Debate webinar, hosted by Cumberland Lodge Chief Executive, Canon Dr Ed Newell, on ‘The Future of Religious Buildings’, developed in partnership with the National Churches Trust.

This discussion focuses on one of the key issues highlighted by Faith & Belief 2040: the changing role and wider community use of religious buildings in our increasingly multicultural, interfaith society.

It incorporates questions from the public audience and a live poll, was streamed on 7 July 2021 on Zoom and Facebook, and is available to watch or listen to on-demand here.

The guest panellists are:

  • Sarwat Tasneem – Founder, 14-Consulting; Fellow, The Centre of Conscious Design
  • Eddie Tulasiewicz – Head of Communications and Public Affairs, National Churches Trust
  • Jagdev Singh Virdee – General Secretary, Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, Gravesend; Editor, British Sikh Report
  • Will Watt – Director, State of Life (authors of The House of Good Report, 2020)

Blog posts

Four of our Cumberland Lodge Fellows, doctoral students based at UK universities, wrote blog posts for us on their own learning and reflections from the four conference sessions. These are available via the following links:

The UK’s changing faith and belief landscape: Exploring religious diversity

Finding sources of moral courage in a rapidly changing world

Time travelling with purpose: Social cohesion and its future

Reflections on the UK’s changing faith and belief landscape and impacts on identity

We also shared two conference podcasts, featuring insights and reflections from four of our guest speakers: Edwin Shuker (Vice-President of the Board of Deputies for British Jews, and a former asylum seeker), Bushra Nasir CBE (CEO of the Drapers’ Multi-Academy Trust schools in Romford), Linda Woodhead (Professor of the Sociology of Religion at Lancaster University) and Mamataj Begum (from the Faith and Belief Forum’s Youth Council).

These can be found on SoundCloud or any major podcasting channel, and on our website via these links:

Faith & Belief 2040: Social cohesion and sources of moral courage

Faith & Belief 2040: Religious diversity and impacts on identity

A history of interfaith work

Cumberland Lodge has been using its convening power to address issues of faith and belief since its earliest days in the aftermath of the Second World War. We work closely with leaders and representatives from diverse faith and belief groups, to explore ways of collaborating positively to meet the needs of a changing society.

Our focus is on bringing together people of all faiths and none, to address the root causes and effects of social divisions and to incubate ideas for promoting more peaceful, open and inclusive futures. Young people are actively involved in all aspects of this work, to nurture their potential as future thought leaders and change makers.