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Lectures explore religion’s ties with politics

An eminent Professor of Religion will analyse the complex relationship between religion and politics in this year’s Gifford Lecture series

Professor Jeffrey Stout, of Princeton University, will deliver six lectures in Edinburgh’s Business School from 1 – 11 May.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh will also hold a Gifford Lecture discussion forum on 10 May. Professor Stout will be joined by a panel of leading thinkers to discuss the issues raised in his lectures.

Complex relationship

During the series, Professor Stout will question whether religion has ever been successfully separated from politics.

He will highlight the Roman roots of the term religion and how philosophers throughout the ages – from Cicero to David Hume – have defined it in relation to politics.

Professor Stout will go on to look at the secularist movement, which emerged in the 1850s.  He will ask how our understanding of religion and politics would have to change if the religious voices in egalitarian freedom movements were given their due. 

Gifford Lectures blog

Professor Stout’s Gifford Lectures will be supplemented with an interactive blog hosted by postgraduate student Andrew Johnson, who is studying for a PhD in Systematic Theology at Edinburgh.

A post will be published after each lecture, reflecting on what was discussed and encouraging others to comment.

Audience members will be encouraged to pose questions during the lectures – in person or via email or using the twitter hashtag #GiffordsEd.

Questions submitted will be put forward during the online discussion period that follows each talk.

Gifford Lectures Edinburgh blog

Professor Stout

Professor Stout is best known for his analyses of religious involvement in politics, his criticisms of secularism and traditionalism and his selective reworking of ideas from American pragmatism.

He has taught at Princeton University since 1975.

Two of his works – Ethics after Babel and Democracy and Tradition—received Awards for Book Excellence from the American Academy of Religion.

Esteemed scholars

The Gifford Lectures have been delivered since 1888 by a succession of distinguished international scholars. Their focus is on Natural Theology, exploring themes relating to the knowledge of God, morals and ethics.

The lecture series was established under the will of Adam Lord Gifford (1820-1887), a Senator of the College of Justice at the University.

Previous speakers include former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams; the Chairperson of the United Nations Internal Justice Council, Catherine O’Regan; and world-renowned psychologist, Steven Pinker.

Related links

Professor Jeffrey Stout - Religion Unbound: Ideals and Powers from Cicero to King

Gifford Lectures Blog

Professor Stout – biography and lecture overview

Gifford Lectures - video and audio podcasts

School of Divinity

Homepage image © Noah Stout