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ECONI Research Archive



Faith in a Plural Society
The Values, Attitudes and Practices of Churches in Protecting Minority Participation

Northern Ireland is changing. We are experiencing an increase in social diversity in terms of ethnicity, religion and sexual identity. We are emerging out of a paradigm of sectarian division between two populations into a society that now recognises the presence of minority populations. With this recognition comes responsibility. This research report is concerned with the responses and responsibilities of Christian churches in Northern Ireland, who together form a majority population, towards members of minority populations.

To receive a free copy please email Helen Smith or contact the office on 028 90325258

• Faith in a Plural Society

This project is exploring how Catholic and Protestant Churches are responding to Northern Ireland's increasing social diversity, specifically in relation to ethnicity, religion and sexual identity.

Church members and adherents are a majority population in Northern Ireland and their faith informs how they understand and respond to diversity. This research includes an examination of religious and civic values, a survey of attitudes and activities of clergy, ministers and pastors and their congregations, and in-depth interviews with church leaders and members.

The project runs from February 2007 to May 2008. If you would be interested in talking to us about your experiences of diversity please contact Fran Porter or Anna Rankin, tel: 028 90325258

The project has produced a paper that explores current understandings of core civic concepts alongside key religious ideas that inform Christian approaches to society. The paper, Engaging Values: Understanding Civic and Christian Approaches to Society, considers three civic concepts of equality, human rights, and tolerance before turning attention to three Christian religious concepts of human personhood, social justice and truth. These are all terms that can evoke strong emotion and energetic discussion in Northern Ireland. Engaging Values suggests that ‘it may be more helpful to think less in terms of a clash of values between civic society and Christian religion and more in terms of different ways of seeing the world. Church and civic society use different lenses to look at the same reality. The task of this paper is to help us have some focus through both sets of lenses.

• Dealing with the past

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC) is currently looking at "ways of dealing with the past which recognise the pain, grief and anger associated with it" in order to "build a better future for the next generation." The Centre has produced extensive work on forgiveness and, building on this, has made a response to NIAC as part of our ongoing interest and contribution to this area.

Forgiveness Papers

Pathways booklets

Other Resources

• Equality

Equality is a crucial topic in Northern Ireland, especially in efforts to build an inclusive society. The UK government is working at formulating a Single Equality Bill and the Centre has contributed to the consultation process, maintaining an active interest in the issue and its progress.

  • Summary of the Response to the Single Equality Bill Consultation, Ben Walker

• Human Rights

The Centre has published several papers on Human Rights, especially pertaining to the process of formulating a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland and the concept of a shared future. We are currently working on funding for a substantial Human Rights project.

  • A Shared Vision: Human Rights and the Church, Alwyn Thomson and Caroline McAdam
  • Executive Summary of A Shared Vision
  • "Making a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland: A Submission from ECONI," Alwyn Thomson
  • "Minority Rights," Alwyn Thomson
  • "Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights - Inquiry Into the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission: Written Evidence Submitted by ECONI," Alwyn Thomson
  • "A Response from ECONI to: The Government’s Response to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s Review of Powers Recommendations - A Paper for Consultation," Alwyn Thomson


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