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Religious faith and human rights

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In partnership with the Forum on Religion

  • Speaker: Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Chair: Professor Conor Gearty
  • 1 May 2008


The idea of human rights is often traced back to the characteristically religious insight that every individual is unique in the eyes of God. This explanation of why human dignity is important held sway for centuries, but it has lost much of its grip on society in these uncertain, post-modern times. Many adherents of human rights today see no need to root their beliefs in any religious (or specifically Christian) set of beliefs. Indeed some would go so far as to see religion as distinctly hostile to human rights. Are they right to do so? What is the true relationship between religion and human rights?

Rowan Williams was enthroned as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury in February 2003. Following ordination in 1978 he combined teaching and pastoral work in Cambridge and then Oxford (where he was Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity from 1986-92) until his election as Bishop of Monmouth in 1991and subsequently Archbishop of Wales from 2000.

Podcast and Transcript

An audio recording of this event is available to download as: mp3 (22 mb; approx 97 minutes)

The text of the lecture is available here (Link to external site)

A video recording of the event is available to watch here (Link to external site)