Andrew Copson - Politics, religion, and freedom: is secularism failing and does it matter?

ILAS Grand Challenges lecture series

Secularism is an increasingly hot topic in public, political, and religious debate across the globe. It is embodied in the conflict between the constitutions of secular republics – from the US to France to India – and the challenges they face from resurgent religious identity politics, from ethnic nationalism, from rising cultural conservatism and from the general onslaught against human rights and the liberal order. This talk will look at the arguments against secularism and the conflicts that they are provoking around the world today and ask whether secularism is failing as a political order and whether it matters. We will look at the origins of secularism in modern states and historic opposition to secular political orders before focussing on France, India, the US, and Turkey to highlight the specific challenges faced by secularism and consider whether they are part of a general global trend.


Andrew Copson is Chief Executive of Humanists UK and President of Humanists International. His last book, Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom (2017) was re-published in 2019 by Oxford University Press as 'Secularism: a very short introduction' and widely hailed as an indispensable analysis of the problems and challenges facing states in relation to religion and politics today. Andrew has fifteen years of practical experience representing humanist and secularist concerns nationally and internationally including as an adviser to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and as an NGO delegate to the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

Twitter: @andrewcopson

We will be hosting this lecture via Microsoft Teams. If you would like to attend, please register (by no later than 4.00pm on the day of the lecture) and joining instructions with further information will follow ahead of the lecture.

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Online via Microsoft Teams
Steve Kilner
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01782 7 34449