Saturday Forum - Religion and Identity

  • January 18, 2014 · 12:30 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

The Saturday Forum provides space for dialogue around issues of identity, where people can engage with each other in an exchange of ideas, points of view and personal experiences. Our purpose is not to decide who is right and who is wrong, but rather to move forward together in a more nuanced understanding of complex issues.

Among the big questions of the 21st century are those around identity. How do we decide who we are and who we want to be? In a complex world we belong to multiple communities and take on multiple roles, identity can be difficult and we are can so easily become lost.

We meet on the third Saturday of every month in Islington.

Next Forum 18/1/14: Religion and identity

Britain is a largely secular society. Religious believers are a minority and most who are religious accept that laws must be based upon common values and not religious dogmas.

Social cohesion is strengthened when we celebrate diversity and work towards the inclusion of all, but does religious freedom enhance social cohesion or inhibit it?

Recent stories in the news include the Muslim M&S employee refusing to serve a customer who wanted to purchase alcohol and pork. How should we accommodate such religious convictions? Most Muslim employees would not take the same strong stand, but what if all did?

In a completely different twist, very recently an atheist minister of the Unitarian Church – our own Andy Pakula – was denied the opportunity to present Thought for the Day because the BBC have designated this slot for theists only. Yet the BBC is a public service funded by the taxpayer.

So, what is the importance of religious identity? What are the limits of accommodation to religious sensitivities? How secular should Britain be? And does secularism lead to repression of religion?

Your Annual Subscription 

Although membership of our site is free we do expect all those who attend our events to pay an annual subscription that covers attendance not just one meeting but also to the vast majority of our meetups and webinars for any one year. It also allows you to bring one guest free to every meeting or webinar.

If you are unable to pay online this way can you please let us know and we will make other arrangements. Also we never refuse membership to anyone who is unable to pay so please let us know if there are difficulties this way and you will still be able to join in.

Join or login to comment.

  • Barry L.

    i dont have this photo of me wearing what mormons wear inside a mormon temple and under their everyday normal cloths 24/7 anymore on f.book.anyway back to the interesting forum that i was part of on sat,18th in islington,yes it was interesting but as i guessed there was conditions and restrictions of free speach attached, i guess you have to show some respect when in someones house/hall. there was about 20 or so individuals there, where we all tried to give and discuss amongst ourselfs,-religion and identity, which is a big subject to cover,i felt good and with delias smile, it was funny but at the end, tony did slip somehow and nearly suggested having a prayer, which reminded me of how i was so mind controled yrs ago in doing 24/7 while i was a mormon, and to think i used to say that secret word or half word of an extraterrestrial=amenhotep, yep the word AMEN comes from that ancient egyptian diety.we didnt get enough time to get to know each other as time went by,love from barry

    1 · January 19, 2014

    • Tom W.

      Thanks for your feedback Barry and for joining yesterday's Forum, your prescence and contributions were welcome. Tony's suggestion of a prayer at the end was a joke ( and I thought quite a funny one) - is that not right Tony? Come to the next Forum (date and subject to be confirmed) and hopefully there will be more chance to get to know each other.

      1 · January 19, 2014

    • Tony G.

      It was indeed a joke -and I am sure if others had thought I was serious I'd have been shown the door!

      1 · January 19, 2014

  • Caroline C H

    Thought provoking

    January 19, 2014

  • Tony G.

    I really appreciated people's openness and honesty. I felt people were generally gracious and really willing to accommodate worldviews they didn't necessarily hold themselves (the signs of openness and maturity I suppose). In recent years I have experienced hostility towards my religious faith that I have never previously known. For me it is akin to the homophobia I endured much more in the past but less so now. I hope whatever the limitations of sessions like this, all these little opportunities add up to a greater chance of freedom and openness as a society. Though I agree with Jim we were - by the very nature of things - a self-selecting group and it would be good to find ways to reach out to others who want (and need) this conversation but who might not be obvious candidates for this kind of event.

    2 · January 19, 2014

  • Nick S.

    Really sorry I couldn't make it; look forward to the next one.

    January 19, 2014

  • Neil M.

    Hi Everyone! I wanted to share this website of a very informed and inspiring life coach whom I have met and know. I would like your feedback on whether you would be interested to hear him speak on a relevant and applicable topic on our meetup forum. I have referred his details to Tony but at this stage I do not know about Dr. Greg's availability and his schedule. However, I have also sent him a message about our very interesting and inspiring group. Please take a look, your comments are welcome. Thanks, Neil :-)http://gregbarkercoaching.com/

    1 · January 19, 2014

  • Neil M.

    Thank you for all being so supportive and appreciative towards this discussion and for working towards understanding the issue on Identity and Religion (in a secular country?)-Sometimes it is difficult to understand the motives of those who claim their rights as individuals who have a strong conviction in their faith/religion or in their beliefs. We can only break down the barriers of gridlock through trust and understanding and through a collaborative, socially empowering and inclusive desire to appreciate how we can contribute to our society whilst ensuring our beliefs and faith do not get in the way. We need to work towards a functioning society and social and cultural inclusion within our diversity. Perhaps we could also have stayed on a little longer to discuss the next month's topic, having said that I thought that the closing statements by everyone empowered the whole group and brought a sense of togetherness and I am very happy this was also included. With Best Wishes, Neil.

    2 · January 19, 2014

  • dave p.

    A big subject for a small amount of time and despite the potential controversy this subject was likely to generate, the session was lively diverse and a multiplicity of views were expressed very respectfully. Participation was fairly extensive and contributions more nuanced than the polarisation extenuated in mainstream media. Interesting to note the some of the opinions that were expressed with the greatest passion and force were those of an atheistic or secularist persuasion.

    5 · January 18, 2014

  • MJY (Michael Y.

    Well intentioned.

    January 18, 2014

  • Caroline D

    interesting

    January 18, 2014

  • terence f.

    The meeting was well structured but always under the constraints of time. The topics discussed revealed a number of approaches and perhaps a variety of underlying belief systems. I was open to suggestion yet walked away seemingly unchanged. Did I have an effect on others? Hard to tell and do I care? The sharp edge of earnest beliefs seemed to meet the hard rock of self preservation.

    3 · January 18, 2014

    • Andria

      Sorry?! Not sure exactly what U are saying here T I really enjoyed to do for many reasons which i do not have time to say now: on my way to another meeting. Thanks to Tony and Tom esp for setting it up x

      January 18, 2014

  • sandra

    Sorry didn't make it, got stuck in football traffic, arrived late and no parking! Went home. Hope it was fruitful

    January 18, 2014

  • CarolineB

    really sorry to have to cancel at short notice - I'm waiting in for a delivery which hasn't turned up. Grrrr.

    I look forward to the next meeting, and to any follow up discussion on this forum.

    Caroline

    January 18, 2014

  • Sahar B.

    Sorry cannot make it,I look forward to reading the outcomes on the posts

    January 18, 2014

  • Caroline

    I am so sorry to be pulling out due to being unwell of what looks set to be a deeply profound gathering full of diverse opinions given equal time centre stage. I look forward to the comments posted after the discussion to keep in touch with how the forum went.

    January 18, 2014

  • Sahar B.

    Very interesting topic. I hope to attend

    January 17, 2014

  • Jessie H.

    The date is not suitable.i would have loved to join this debate.

    January 17, 2014

  • Tom L.

    New work commitment unfortunately

    January 16, 2014

  • sandra

    I'm really a maybe, couldn't do 13 miles are there any points on the way to join or leave to catch a train

    January 16, 2014

  • M Noor Nabiul A.

    I would like to understand in deep and real sense of meaning of religion and identity?

    January 13, 2014

    • dave p.

      I support this comment burrowing into specialist narrow topics from the off assumes we all agree on the relationship between religion and identity. Focusing on pathological news items instigates an emphasis on religion-as-problem, for many it is not. A general exploration initially should surface the emotional gravity of the group first, which could allow us to see what shared agreements/good are held in common. From this basis more contentious issues could be embarked upon.

      1 · January 13, 2014

  • Andria

    It is very sad that so many religious leaders use their man-made/given authority to brainwash millions that God has told them to kill X group, or animals for that matter
    if ALL religion/spirituality is ANYTHING to me in a few words: it is a guideline for life who's core is extending kindness to oneself and everyone/thing we meet

    January 13, 2014

    • Andria

      In the end, when you look more closely all those so-called "religious" war about power (wanting more) as in territories, money (or the lack of it to feed ones people) and identity - business as usual in other words. All the multifaith groups do give me some hope though...:-)

      January 13, 2014

  • P.Selvaratnam

    Bdhhism has been at the heart of the 65-yr conflict in Sri Lanka. But in the last few years it has become simply intolerable and the President has not even squeaked on it:

    Hardline monks rally Sri Lanka as Buddhist front, 11 January 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/hardline-monks-rally-sri-lanka-as-buddhist-front/2014/01/11/c83ca12a-7a8e-11e3-a647-a19deaf575b3_story.html

    January 13, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      all religions channel a defensive side, have their warrior side, each and everyone of them

      January 13, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I hope room is also allowed for any new social innovators, and also for those individuals who dip in and out of holding any one value as their favourite. In other words, to leave us free to enjoy an array of opinions at all times.

    January 1, 2014

    • Tom W.

      What topic and format do you suggest David through which real excahnges and learning might be possible?

      January 4, 2014

    • David F.

      Perhaps, off hand; (1) share our experiences of coming to our current beliefs. (2) Reveal, honestly, the weakest points in our beliefs and practices. (3) Possibly a ban on saying 'you're wrong'. (4) Discuss issues that divide all denominations, eg justification for war where theologians have done useful work not based on the Bible.

      January 5, 2014

  • Fiona W.

    Well done, Andrew, for getting as far as being an 'alternative'! But it was very unfair that, whereas the usual TftD speakers can say what they like without being challenged, you were put through a Q&A session after your talk. I'm a member of the National Secular Society and trying to get the Beeb to change its mind over this has been one of their campaigns over many years.
    It's astonishing to see how many comments were added to the Guardian link you gave us!

    January 3, 2014

  • Andrew

    I'm really sorry that I won't be at this one. I'll be off in the US. In case you missed this relevant news, I was recently blocked from doing BBC radio 4 Thought for the Day because I don't believe in a supernatural being. If you're interested, the Guardian covered it here: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/dec/26/atheist-radio-4-thought-day-tim-berners-lee

    This is relevant because religion is part of my identity. I am a minister of religion, after all. But what does it mean about that identity when BBC's Religion Dept decides that my beliefs are not adequate to make me a person of faith?

    Hope it's a wonderful session!

    January 3, 2014

    • Andrew

      PS: They did - at the insistence of Sir Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the WWW and guest editor for that day) - allow me to do an "alternative Thought for the Day."

      January 3, 2014

  • Fiona W.

    Shouldn't we just wait until 18 January and have this conversation in person with the whole group? At this rate we'll have nothing to discuss on 18th! It's interesting to have suggested reading matter before the event such as Caroline and Allan have sent, but lets find out the way each of us thinks on the day. I look forward to seeing everyone then.

    1 · January 2, 2014

  • Nick S.

    I feel that pork and alcohol are different issues: not touching pork is simply an out-dated (and mistaken) health regulation; alcohol really is quite bad for you in more than moderate quantities. I like it myself, but I regard this as a weakness (or is that my protestant background speaking?).

    I think to be vegetarian is fine, and I respect that; to see pork as unclean is an error. OK, I'm sure some of my views are erroneous too, but I try - as far as I can - to keep an open mind, and be willing to change my opinions when it becomes clear that I am wrong.

    January 2, 2014

  • David F.

    Interesting - hope to be there.

    December 31, 2013

  • Agnes O.

    Inspiring introduction. Looking forward the discussion.

    December 30, 2013

  • Caroline

    On the idea of 'Hybrid Identities' - other members might find this article an interesting read http://newnarratives.wordpress.com/issue-1-hybrid-identity/some-thoughts-on-hybrid-identity/

    1 · December 7, 2013

42 went

Annual Subscription

GBP15.00 a year

This covers: Contributions help us cover administration costs, site costs and development.

Payment is accepted using:

  • PayPal
  • Cash or check - “Members can pay through PayPal. Those who want to pay be cheque should contact the Organiser.

Your organizer will refund you if:

  • Joining fees cover a year of activities of GlobalNet21. If anyone thinks that they should be refunded then they should contact the organiser and discuss that with him.

Our Sponsors

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Create your own Meetup Group

Get started Learn more
Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy