Inform Spring Seminar

Date: Saturday, 21 May 2016; 9.30am - 5.00pm
Location: Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building
London School of Economics, 54 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LJ. 

New Religious Radicalisms

Religion has a long history of radicalism and teachings and/or practices considered extreme by some, or even most. The point of radicalism is that it is a significant departure from norms or traditions. From the extreme acts of mortification of the self by some ascetics to the theologically and politically radical position of the Protestants protesting against what they considered errors inherent in the then dominant Roman Catholic Church, the history of religion is a history of extremes and opposition. It has always provided commentary on the worldly (as well as the other-worldly).

A recent example is the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon by an armed group protesting against the federal management of land, including grazing rights - a political issue. However, the main initiator of the occupation, a Mormon, stated he was compelled to lead this initiative after praying for, and receiving, divine inspiration. Several key figures in this stand-off have cited Mormon scripture as justification for opposing and challenging the federal government. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has strongly condemned the action.) 

Usage and understanding of the terms radical and extreme have changed over time, often to reflect the norms and politics of the era. This seminar will explore new religious radicalisms, and new forms of opposition, with the aim of developing new understandings of such world views.

Speakers will include:
Professor Susan J. Palmer, Sociologist of Relgion, McGill University
Michael Williamson, London International Christian Church
Dr Alexandra Plows, Research Fellow, Bangor University
Dr Tristan Sturm, Lecturer, Queen's University Belfast
Shamsher Singh, National Sikh Youth Federation
Professor Eileen Barker, Founder and Chair of Inform
Tickets (include buffet lunch, morning coffee and afternoon tea) booked and paid in advance of 25 April 2016 cost £38 each (£18 for students/unwaged and £10 for A-Level students). Tickets booked after 25 April 2016 cost £48 each (£28 for students and £20 for A-Level students).
To register: Register and pay online or post cheque and booking form to:
Houghton St.
London WC2A 2AE
A full schedule with speakers will be posted soon. 
Because of the many different perspectives present at an Inform seminar, Inform asks that all participants abide by a Code of Practice and The Chatham House Rule.

Code of Practice for Seminars

Inform aims to collect and disseminate objective, accurate information about alternative religions and spiritualities. Participants in Inform seminars and conferences are expected to further these aims by seeking to avoid deliberate deception or distortion. In order to be able to exchange information about a subject which can arouse strong feelings, it is necessary to lay down some ground rules for discussion. The purpose of these rules is to prevent strong feelings from undermining (a) the pursuit of truth, (b) the conduct of constructive dialogue and (c) the defence of sometimes unpopular views.
In the belief that understanding minority religions and the controversies which may be associated with them requires sensitivity to the freedom of all people to express their opinions within the law, Inform has the following policy for the conduct of its meetings:
  • It is essential to show respect for the convictions of others and to refrain from behaving in ways which cause unnecessary offence
  • Genuine dialogue calls for listening as well as speaking
  • It is unacceptable to misrepresent or disparage other people's beliefs and practices
  • It is not good practice to compare one's own ideals with other people's practices.
Inform usually records the lectures at its public events for legal reasons, but does not make the recording available without the express permission of the speaker. 

The Chatham House Rule

"When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed."
For a further explanation of the Chatham House Rule, please see the Chatham House website.
Of course, if the individual speaker gives his or her express permission, then s/he may be quoted by name.