Do not be fooled by the scraps from the table in Chancellor Osborne's 2011 budget, says Urban Forum chief executive, Toby Blume, analysing the implications for charities, enterprise, environment, planning and poverty. Sadly, the real damage has already been done.
Sweden, by some standards one of the world’s most secular countries, has passed a new education law stipulating that public schools must teach their subjects in a “non-confessional” and “objective” manner. Joseph Ballan explores the complex boundaries and definitions of secularity and religiosity in the public arena.
With the 'Critical Religion' agenda and blog, says Michael Marten, the intention is to question the category of 'religion' - but then, rather than just holding it to suspicion, or blame, or discredit, or incredulity – a growing tendency among certain public intellectuals, even if against the tide of global demographics – to examine the issues involved from a positive critical standpoint.
We need to search beyond politicians’ construction of multiculturalism, says Professor Robert Jackson. Research shows a much more complex picture of the ‘multicultural’ nature of society and of cultural relations, with constantly changing, complex and heterogeneous cultural groupings, exhibiting much diversity and some tension over issues such as identity. Religion, and our understanding of it, remains vital to all of this, not least within our schools. So where is it in PM David Cameron's vision and policy?
The military balance of Libya’s domestic conflict is raising debate about external intervention, says Professor Paul Rogers. But the strategy of the Gaddafi regime is also crucial to what happens next. If a long conflict follows, the resulting costs will be measured in human lives; but also in the prospects for deepening the 'Arab spring' that first bloomed in Tunisia and Egypt, the countries on either side of Libya.
Religion changes and mutates. Some of these religious mutations can be positively harmful in a changing Middle East. But other religious innovations can help religion accommodate itself to modernity, says Ahmad Sadri. It doesn’t matter whether a society has or does not have religion per se. What is important is what kind of religion or irreligion pervades in that society.
While the Middle East uprisings have not revolved around religion, faith has not been absent from Arab scenes of protest in the last two months, says Shatha Almutawa. God and scripture are invoked by revolutionaries and those who oppose them for the simple reason that Arab dialects and ways of life are infused with religion.
A hurricane of change is blowing through the Arab world. Even now, many Arab regimes are still in denial, says Nadim Shehadi. But this volatile situation also challenges the West to grasp a new political reality.
Living with uncertainty is the reality of existence, says Sande Ramage. Pretending otherwise by constructing systems and traditions that look reliable is a human preoccupation, until we are stopped in our tracks by disaster such as that which has struck Christchurch.
Despite the pernicious narratives of past decades, and despite dismissive Western attitudes towards the Middle East and North Africa, Arabs are showing that they can practise democracy after all, says Harry Hagopian. This moment in history is not just a revolt, it is a struggle for the Arab soul.
A confident and independent Scotland, far from deserting its neighbours, might actually end up being a better friend, argues writer Nick Thorpe, analysing the language used to describe the referendum choices and how it can both lead and mislead.
An independent Scotland could be the start of something even bigger: disaffected voters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland motivated to find a different society, say Molly and John Harvey, senior church figures in Scotland. They write with only days to go before the historic referendum on self-government.