Who We Are
- The Right Reverend Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich (Church of England)
- The Reverend Michael Heaney, The Moderator of the Free Churches' Group
- Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia (Greek Orthodox Church)
- Bishop Paul Hendricks (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark)
- Professor Lord Desai of St Clement Danes
- The Lord Ahmed of Rotherham
- Baroness Sally Greengross of Notting Hill
Inform's Board of Governors
The Board is responsible for Inform's overall policy. It meets twice a year and submits an Annual Report and audited accounts to Companies House and the Charity Commissioners.
- Professor Eileen Barker, PhD, OBE, FBA (Chair); Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science
- Professor James Beckford, PhD, FBA (Vice-Chair); Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick; Nominee of the British Sociological Association, Sociology of Religion Study Group
- Dr Hamish Cameron; Former Consultant Child Psychiatrist at St George's Hospital, London & Cassel Hospital, Surrey
- Abby Day, PhD; Senior Research Fellow, Department of Religious Studies, University of Kent; Visiting Research Fellow, Department of Geography, University of Sussex; Chair of the British Sociological Association, Sociology of Religion Study Group
- Canon Dr Giles Fraser; Parish Priest at St Mary's Newington, Southwark and columnist for The Guardian
- Professor Conor Gearty, PhD; Professor of Human Rights Law, London School of Economics and Political Science
- Mr Jim McManus; Nominee of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster
- The Reverend Andrew Maguire, MA, BD (Treasurer); Nominee of the Free Churches' Group, Superintendent Minister of the North Hertfordshire Methodist Circuit
- Professor J. D. Y. Peel, PhD, FBA; Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
- Marat Shterin, PhD; Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Religion, Department of Religious Studies, King's College London
- Robert Towler, PhD; Former Head of Research, Independent Television Commission
- The Reverend Alan Walker, MA, MTh, LLM; Parish Priest
Inform's Management Committee
The Management Committee is responsible for monitoring progress and making day-to-day decisions, including the appointment of staff.
Professor Eileen Barker, PhD, OBE, FBA
Founder, Chair of Inform's Board of Governors and its Honorary Director; Professor Emeritus at the London School of Economics. Sociologist of Religion, she has been researching minority religions and the responses to which they give rise since the early 1970s. Her study of conversion to the Unification Church for her PhD, led to an interest in a wide variety of movements, and she has personally studied, to greater or lesser degree, over 150 different groups. As the first-generation movements aged, she became interested in the changes, particularly the arrival of second-generation members and those who leave the movements. For the past twelve years, she’s been interested in differences between ‘cult-watching’ groups and the dynamics within and between these groups and the religions. She has over 300 publications, translated into 27 languages. She travels extensively for research purposes, particularly in North America, Europe and Japan, and, since collapse of the Berlin Wall, in Eastern Europe and, more recently, China. She was the first non-American to be elected President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Click here for information on some of her publications.
Professor James Beckford, PhD, FBA
Chair of Inform’s Management Committee and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology, University of Warwick. In addition to editing Current Sociology from 1980 to 1986 and to serving as Vice-President of the International Sociological Association from 1994 to 1998, Jim served as Chairman of the Study Group for the Sociology of Religion (1978-1983), as President of the Association for the Sociology of Religion (1988-1989), as President of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (1999-2003), and is currently President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Beginning with studies of sects and religious organisations, he went on to study the controversies surrounding ‘cults’ or new religious movements in various countries, religion and the mass media, theories of religion in advanced industrial societies, chaplaincies in prisons and hospitals, and Muslims in Europe. He is currently active in research networks in Canada, Switzerland and France. Click here for information on some of his publications.
The Reverend Andrew Maguire, MA, BD
As you can see from my picture I am an ordained Christian Minister, my denomination being the Methodist Church. I was ordained in 1983 and have served in circuits/churches in East Norfolk, South London, Bristol, North Hertfordshire and now in West Norfolk where since September 2012 I have been the Superintendent Minister of the West Norfolk Methodist Circuit. I became a Governor of Inform around 1990. I was approached by the Free Church Federal Council (now the Free Churches Group) to go to an Inform Seminar and to give a report about whether Inform should be supported. I gave my (favourable and sympathetic!) report and I was then asked to be the Free Churches nominee on the Board of Governors. I am now on the Management Committee and also Treasurer. Among my other interests is the study of original language Greek and Latin texts from the first five centuries of the Christian Church. My first degree was in Classics. I taught New Testament Greek at Wesley College in Bristol during my time as minister in Westbury-on-Trym. Now I run a website that gives several early Christian texts and translations with links to a lot of background information - www.earlychurchtexts.com.
Honorary Research Fellow
Professor Jean La Fontaine, PhD
Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science, Jean carried out anthropological fieldwork in eastern Uganda, Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) and in England. She has been interested in ritual since writing on initiation ritual for her Ph D. and has publications on witchcraft and on allegations of satanic abuse in England, the subject of her book Speak of the Devil . She is currently researching accusations of witchcraft against children in the African diaspora and recently edited the Inform publication entitled The Devil’s Children: From Spirit Possession to Witchcraft, New Allegations That Affect Children. Click here for information on some of her publications.
University Liaison Officer
Marat Shterin, PhD
Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Religion, Department of Religious Studies, King's College London since 2005, Marat received his PhD in Sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) where he was awarded the Robert McKenzie Prize for outstanding performance. Marat's research is concerned with various aspects of religion and society, New Religious Movements (NRMs), new Islamic groups, and new Charismatic and Pentecostal Christian groups in Western and Eastern Europe; religion, conflict, and violence; religion, state, law, and human rights. He has also undertaken a number of policy assessment studies, such as "Potential for Ethnic and Religious Conflict in the Volga Federal District of the Russian Federation" (2002) for the American International Development Agency (USAID). Click here for information on some of his publications.
Professor Eileen Barker, PhD, OBE, FBA
Amanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist, PhD
Amanda has been working at Inform since 1998. Her PhD, entitled Growing Up in Contemporary Sectarian Movements: An Analysis of Segregated Socialisation, completed at the LSE in the Department of Sociology, examined the second generation of sectarian movements and the impact their “segregated childhoods” have had. Her article, “Beliefs in Possession”, is to be found in The Devil’s Children. From Spirit Possession to Witchcraft: New Allegations That Affect Children, edited by Inform’s Honorary Research Fellow, Jean la Fontaine. As part of her work at Inform Amanda encounters many individuals affected by alternative religious movements, and frequently writes in-depth reports on particular new and/or alternative religions, or issues pertaining to such groups. Click here for information on her publication.
Sarah Jane Harvey, MSc
Researcher at Inform since 2001, she has an undergraduate degree from the University of Manchester in Comparative Religion and Social Anthropology and a Masters degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Social Research Methods (Sociology). In September 2009, she began studying for her PhD in the Psychosocial Studies Department at Birkbeck, University of London. Her thesis is on the subject of spirituality and childbirth. At Inform, her primary responsibility is maintenance of the database of religious movements, but she also responds to many of the enquiries that Inform receives. She is particularly interested in Pagan religions and in new Christian movements such as the International Churches of Christ and Peniel Church. She has recently guest edited a special issue of The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies (volume 11, no. 1, 2009). Click here for information on her publications
Sibyl Macfarlane, MA
Administration, Archiving and Assistant Research Officer
Sibyl started at Inform as an intern in the summer of 2010, while completing a MA in Religion in Contemporary Society at King’s College, London, writing her final dissertation on the role of contemporary Christian music as a religious experience for young people. Prior to this Sibyl completed an honours BA in History and Religious Studies at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Sibyl now focuses on researching religious groups as well as organizing Inform's archive materials.
Suzanne Newcombe, PhD
Suzanne has been working at Inform since 2002. She is also an Associate Lecturer for the Open University in the East of England and has lectured in the field of new and alternative religious at Kingston University. Her PhD research at the University of Cambridge explored the popularization and development of yoga and Ayurvedic medicine in Britain. She continues to be active in research networks in this area (see www.modernyogaresearch.org). She has a MSc in Religion in Contemporary Society from the LSE and a BA in Religion from Amherst College, USA. Suzanne has published articles in edited books, the Journal of Contemporary Religion, Religion Compass and Asian Medicine. Click here for information on her publications.
Silke Steidinger, MSc
Assistant Research Officer
Silke has been Assistant Research Officer at Inform since 2006. The primary focus of her work is researching religious groups for the Inform database and cataloguing the Inform library. In 2004, she received an MSc in Religion in Contemporary Society (Sociology) from the London School of Economics, the focus of her dissertation being on death in New Religious Movements. In 1999, she received a BA (Hons) in Religious Studies from King’s College London. Click here for information on her publications.
Adviya Khan, MA
Assistant Research Officer
Adviya has been working at Inform as an Assistant Research Officer since early 2012. The primary focus of her work is researching new religious movements connected to Islam. In 2011 she received an MA in Islam in Contemporary Britain from Cardiff University for which she won a YousefJameel Scholarship. Her dissertation was an ethnographic study of ‘Poetic Pilgrimage’ and focused on looking at the role of Muslim women in Hip-Hop and the challenges they face. In 2010 she received a BA (Hons) in History and Politics from Queen Mary, University of London.