Liz Lutgendorff, Phd student at Oxford Brookes and Chair of Conway Hall Ethical Society, has provided the NSRN with an informative overview of the archive facilities offered by Conway Hall in London which may be helpful to researchers of secularism and nonreligion.
As part of my research into the history of atheism and secularism in the UK, I’ve become involved with Conway Hall Ethical Society (CHES) and I am currently the chair of Trustees. CHES may be better known to some as the South Place Ethical Society or South Place Chapel. It started as a radical Unitarian church in the eighteenth century and gradually evolved into a secular, ethical society in the late nineteenth century. It is now the only Ethical Society remaining in the UK and only one of two freethought and secular organisations in the UK with a hall purposely built for the promotion of ethical, secular, or humanist principles in the UK (the other being Leicester Secular Hall). Continue reading
NSRN Annual Lecture 2012
28 November 2012 Doors from 6pm, lecture at 6.30pm, Followed by a drinks reception
Conway Hall, London
This event is free but places are limited.
To register, please email Lois Lee at
We are very happy to annouce that Dr Matthew Engelke will be our guest speaker at our annual lecture, this year to be held November 2012 in Conway Hall [details above]
In spite of Christianity: Humanism and its others in contemporary Britain – Dr Matthew Engelke
What do we talk about when we talk about religion? What do we recognize as essential and specific to any given faith, and why? In this lecture, I address these questions by drawing on fieldwork among humanists in Britain, paying particular attention to humanism’s relation to Christianity. In one way or another, humanists often position themselves in relation to Christianity. In a basic way, this has to do with humanists’ commitment to secularism—the differentiation of church and state. In more complex ways, though, it also has to do with an effort to move “beyond” Christianity—to encourage a world in which reason takes the place of revelation—while often, at the same time, recognizing what’s worth saving and even fostering from the legacies of faith. All these various relations and perspectives suggest how we should understand social life in contemporary Britain as what it is in spite of Christianity—and not.
Dr. Engelke has recently completed a year of ethnographic fieldwork in the offices of the British Humanist Association [BHA] and is soon to publish his findings. As part of this research project Dr Engelke worked with BHA accredited celebrants and also trained as a funeral celebrant. This work leads the way for a happily increasing number of similar research projects and this will be further encouraged by the recent launch the Programme for the Study of Religion and Nonreligion at LSE, which is coordinated by Dr. Engelke .