Past Events

Law and religion workshop

26 & 27 June 2017

University of Edinburgh, Old College, Elder Room

Religion has not left Western society. We need little reminder of this fact. Migration, globalisation and modern communication bring religion back into the otherwise secular public space of the West. The religious wars of early modern Europe may be in the past, but questions of co-existence and tolerance are not. Western society is periodically, if not continually, forced to face these questions. When it does, law can often take central stage: one may make an appeal to law or one may seek to challenge the law. As such, judges, lawyers, courts and statutes play a central role in disputes concerning the place of religion in contemporary, secular society.

Courts’ and churches’ jurisdiction, co-ordination and conflict

In modern Western societies, law is often regarded as the primary expression of the State’s claim to legitimacy and supremacy, overriding other competing normative orders, such as religion. In light of this, there is a persistent need to address questions of co-existence and tolerance and, as part of that process, to confront the ways in which law and religion relate to one another and to understand how the state and religions use and understand law.  

Law in religion and religion in law

In addition to these fractious interrelations between law and religion, there exists, often at a subterranean level, a high degree of commonality. Law and religion draw on a shared set of concepts – will, intention, covenant and guilt, for example – and have often been bolstered by a common normative framework. At an overt level, too, law and religion have to varying extents over time enjoyed mutually-supportive relationship, as has been manifest within institutions, ideas and personnel. A full appreciation of the associations between law and religion must therefore engage with questions of convergence and congruence as much as those of disharmony and dissent. 

A historical approach

There are many ways one can approach such questions. Philosophy, sociology, psychology and political theology all provide lenses through which to examine these issues. Without excluding these disciplinary insights, this workshop aims to consider the relationship between law and religion by attending to its ancient and variegated history. Exploring this history of togetherness, co-existence, mutual re-enforcement, conflict, tension and conscious and unconscious borrowing is enriching and enlightening in its own right, but also holds potentially wider implications for how we understand contemporary interactions between law and religion.


This workshop seeks to open out the question of how law and religion have interacted and to understand, from an historicised perspective, the different ways in which law and religion claim influence, authority, force, and power over society and each another. Through considering the rhetorical, institutional, interpersonal and textual connections that have existed between law and religion in the past, the workshop will bring together scholars working on freestanding, but thematically linked, studies into the complex ways in which law and religion interrelate. In light of these studies, workshop participants will have the opportunity to reflect on whether the insights are pertinent to contemporary debates.

Day 1: Courts’ and churches’ jurisdiction, co-ordination and conflict 

 26 June 2017

 9.00-9.30 – Registration and Coffee

 9.30-9.45 – Introduction (Chloe & Stephen)

 9.45-10.30 – Hector MacQueen, The jurisdictional interaction of canon and secular law in medieval Scotland

 10.30-11.15 – Sarah White, Ius Commune, Ordines Iudiciarii, and English Ecclesiastical Court Procedure

 11.15-12.00 – Mark Godfrey, Jurisdictional Change and Relations between the Civil and Spiritual Courts in Scotland 1460-1560

 12.00-12.15 – Break

 12.15-13.00 – David Kearns, Religion and the Common Law in Taylor’s Case (1675)

 13.00-14.00 - Lunch

 14.00-14.45 – Karen Baston, Thomas Aitkenhead, blasphemy, and banned books in Edinburgh

 14.45-15.30 - Alasdair Raffe, Law and conscience in the eighteenth-century Scottish church courts

 15.30-16.15 – Russell Sandberg, Religious Tribunals and their Wider Legal Ramifications

 16.15-16.30 – Roundup (Chloe & Stephen)

Day 2: Religion in law and law in religion

27 June 2017

9.00-9.30 - Coffee

9.30-9.45 – Introduction (Chloe & Stephen)

9.45-10.30 - Thomas Green, Theology and Law during the Scottish Reformation

10.30-11.15 – Steven Foster, There is no power but of God: the political use of God's law during the Reformation

11.15-11.30 – Break

11.30-12.15 - Thanos Zartaloudis, Ancient Greek religion and the notion of ‘nomos’

12.15 – 13.30 – Lunch

13.30-14.15 - Susanna Blumenthal, Witnessing Fraud: Indictments of Commercial Crime from the Nineteenth-Century Pulpit

14.15-15.00 - Chloe Kennedy, Questioning Culpability: Lessons from Soterial-Legal History

15.00-15.45 - Benjamin Berger, The Interpretive Burdens of the Past: Text, History, and Hermeneutics in Law & Religion

15.45-16.00 – Roundup (Chloe & Stephen)

For more information, contact:

Past Events

 Joint Stellenbosch–Glasgow Conference Series: 

Reformed Communities in Changing Societies

‘Dealing with Conflict and Change

 24 March 2017
Lecture Theatre A (fourth floor), Boyd Orr Building, University of Glasgow 

Professor Dirkie Smit (Stellenbosch) 

‘Dealing with Conflict and Change? Reformed Perspectives from South Africa’

Dr Nadia Marais (Stellenbosch)

Love and marriage? Dealing with conflict and change within the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa’

Professor David Fergusson (Edinburgh)

‘Constrained Difference in the Church of Scotland’

The Very Revd Dr Norman Hamilton (Presbyterian Church in Ireland)

‘Recent experiences in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’

For more information contact:

‘The Reformed Church in Hungary and the Churches of Scotland: marking 175 years of fellowship’

Friday 9 December 2016 

10am–1pm 4 

The Square University of Glasgow G12 8QQ 

Dr Abraham Kovacs (Debrecen) ‘Challenges for Hungarian Reformed Minorities in Central Europe. A Post-Communist Theological perspectice'

Dr Margaret Mackay (Edinburgh) ‘Hungary, Scotland and Canada: Calvinist Connections’ 

Revd Dr Ian Alexander (Church of Scotland) ‘Remembering Jane Haining’ 

Professor John McIntosh (ETS) ‘The Free Church and Hungary’

Religious Diversity and Cultural Change in Scotland: Modern Perspectives

A One Day Conference organised by the Scottish Religious Cultures Network with Religious Studies and the Centre for Theology and Public Issues, University of Edinburgh, supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Tuesday 19 April 2016, Martin Hall, 9.45am-5pm

9.30 Arrival 

9.45-10.00: Introduction: Dr Leah Robinson and Dr Steven Sutcliffe (Edinburgh)

10-10.45 Keynote

Professor Callum Brown (Glasgow): ‘The Humanist Condition: How the West was Re-moralised for Atheism’

10.45-11 Coffee

11-12.30 Panel One: Expressions of Popular and New Religion

Dr Leah Robinson (Edinburgh): ‘God on our Side? Theological Understandings of Scottish Soldiers at War’

Dr Steven Sutcliffe (Edinburgh): ‘ “I think he is a Tolstoyan”: Dugald Semple, Food Reform and Conscientious Objection in the First World War’

Dr George Chryssides (York St John): ‘A New Religion in an Old Country: How Scotland shaped the Jehovah’s Witnesses’

12.30-1.30 Lunch (please bring your own)

1.30-3 Panel Two: Cultural Change and Established Traditions 

Dr Marion Bowman (Open University):‘“Walking Back to Happiness?” Renegotiating Protestant Pilgrimage’

Dr Khadijah Elshayyal (Edinburgh): ‘Muslims in Scotland: new findings from the 2011 Census’

Dr Hannah Holtschneider (Edinburgh): ‘Interpreting Jewish migration to Scotland’ 

3-3.15: Tea

3.15-4.45: Panel Three: New Discourses

Christopher Cotter (Lancaster): ‘Discourse, (Non-)Religion, and Locality: Religion-Related Discourses in Edinburgh’s Southside’

Krittika Bhattacharjee (Edinburgh): ‘The everyday life of a visitor spot: the place of the “special” on the island of Iona’

Liam Sutherland (Edinburgh): ‘ “One Nation, Many Faiths”: Banal Nationalism, Religious Pluralism and Public Space in Scottish Interfaith Literature’

4.45-5 Closing Comments: Dr Scott Spurlock (Glasgow/Scottish Religious Cultures Network) 

Public Lecture by Francis Campbell

3 December, 2015. 5pm. Sir Charles Wilson Lecture Theatre, University of Glasgow

The St. Andrew’s Foundation is delighted to host a public lecture by Francis Campbell, Vice-Chancellor of St. Mary’s University London on December 3. The title of the lecture is: Catholic Education: Challenges and Opportunities. The lecture is in the Sir Charles Wilson LT, 1 University Avenue and begins at 5pm. You can register by sending an email with your name to Arlene Burns: Please put 'Francis Campbell Lecture' in the subject box.

Francis has been as a member of HM Diplomatic Service.  Postings covered the European Union, the United Nations Security Council in New York, Italy and at the FCO in London.  Between 1999 and 2003, he served on the staff of the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, first as a Policy Adviser in the No.10 Policy Unit and then as a Private Secretary for Foreign Affairs.  He also served on secondment with Amnesty International as the Senior Director of Policy.  Between 2005 and 2011 he served as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Holy See and he served as Deputy High Commissioner in Pakistan, based in Karachi between 2011 and 2013.  His most recent appointment was the Head of the Policy Unit in the FCO and Director of Innovation at UKTI.  In 2014 he was appointed as the Vice Chancellor of St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London.

Francis has Honorary Doctorates from Fordham University (New York), Queen’s University (Belfast), Steubenville University (Ohio) and the Pakistan Institute of Business and Technology (Karachi), as well as an Honorary Fellow from St Edmund's College, Cambridge University, and the President’s Medal from the Catholic University of America.

Scottish Religious Cultures Network conference:

The History of Scottish Episcopacy

Dates:                         26–27 August 2015

Location:         St Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art

                        2 Castle Street, Glasgow G4 0RH

The Scottish Religious Cultures Network and the University of Glasgow will be hosting a two-day conference on the history of Scottish Episcopacy. 

Timetable – Wednesday 26 August 2015 

10:30am–10:45am        Welcome by The Rt Revd Dr Gregor Duncan, Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway

10:45am–11:45am         Plenary lecture

Chair: Scott Spurlock

Professor Rowan Strong (Murdoch University, Australia) 

‘Episcopalian Missions in the Nineteenth-Century’ 

11:45am–12:10am          Coffee break

12:10am–1:10pm             Session 1: Constructing Episcopacy in the Nineteenth Century

Chair:   Scott Spurlock

John R. Hume (RCHAMS) – ‘Nineteenth-century Episcopalian church architecture in context

John Reuben Davies (University of Glasgow) – ‘Bishop Forbes, G. H. Forbes, and the liturgical books of medieval Scotland’ 

1:10pm–2:30pm               Lunch

2:30–3:30pm                      Session 2: Redefining Episcopacy after the Restoration

Chair: John Reuben Davies

Alasdair Raffe (University of Edinburgh) – ‘The Test Oath and the Failure of Restoration Episcopacy’

Michael Riordan (University of Cambridge) – ‘Episcopalians and Bourignonists in North-East Scotland’

3:30pm–3:50pm              Coffee break       

3:50pm–5:20pm              Session 3: Episcopacy and Politics in the Eighteenth Century

                                                      Chair: Alasdair Raffe

 Roger Edwards (Scottish Episcopal History Network) – ‘The Use and Abuse of the Act of Toleration, Glasgow 1712–1714’

Tristram Clarke (National Archives of Scotland) – ‘Jurors and qualified clergy in Scotland and beyond, 1689–1715’


Thursday 27 August 2015

10:30am–12:00pm         Session 4: The Place of Liturgy in Episcopal Scotland

                                                      Chair: Bishop Gregor Duncan

Kieran German (University of Strathclyde) – ‘“It is a vain thing to trust in princes but the man is blessed who trusteth in the Lord”: Non-Jurors, Liturgy and Jacobite Commitment, 1718-1746.’

Emsley Nimmo (Diocese of Aberdeen) – ‘Archibald Campbell: A Pivotal Figure’

Nicholas Taylor (University of Zululand) – ‘Liturgy and Theological Method in the Scottish Episcopal Church’ 

12:00pm–1:00pm            Lunch

1:00pm–2:30                      Session 5: Locating Episcopacy in the Wider Ecclesiastical Landscape

                                                      Chair: John Reuben Davies

Jamie McDougall (University of Glasgow) – ‘Episcopacy and the National Covenant’

David Bertie (University of Dundee) – ‘The Use of the Old Registers in Indicating Relative Population Strengths of Episcopalians and Presbyterians in an Eighteenth-Century Aberdeenshire Parish

Ann Shukman (Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway) – ‘The fate of the dispossessed clergy of 1688–90’


Reflection and Panel Discussion: The Future of Scottish Episcopal History

Chair: Professor Allan Macinnes

Reflection: Professor Rowan Strong

Due to the generosity of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow this conference will be free.


The conference is part of the Royal Society of Edinburgh-funded Scottish Religious Cultures Network.

Proposals and inquiries with the subject line ‘Scottish Episcopacy’ should be directed to: 

Register to attend at:

Public Lectures

Professor Jane Dawson (University of Edinburgh)

'The Radicalization of John Knox'

Radicalization within a religious context excites much contemporary comment and it is sometimes forgotten this is not a new phenomenon. The experience of John Knox [1514/15-1572] offers a particularly clear example of what provoked the process of radicalization, what were its products and its tangled consequences. 
Professor Jane Dawson will be drawing upon some of the newly-discovered material in her forthcoming biography of Knox to discuss how his life was changed by what he called ‘Satan’s bloody claws’.

Royal Society of Edinburgh

16 March 2015, 7pm

Book a free ticket here

Professor Tom Devine (University of Edinburgh)

'Sectarianism in Scotland: Is it really a problem?'

7pm, Wednesday, 5 March 2014

A blog about this event can be found on the University of Glasgow's Knowledge Exchange website

The Scotsman's write up on the event and project can be read here

Audio recording of the lecture


Second Scottish Religious Cultures Network conference:

'Scotlands Religious Traditions at Home and Abroad'

Dates: 28–29 May 2015

Location: Queen’s University Belfast

Following on from the success of the first Scottish Religious Cultures Network conference in October 2014, the network would like to announce its second conference to be held in Belfast on 28–29 May 2015. The conference is open to papers on any aspect of religion in Scotland, but the organisers are particularly interested in papers focusing on: 

  • the role of religion in shaping Scottish culture
  • the forms through which these traditions have been exported (including to Ulster)
  • the development of new religious traditions in Scotland

These foci identify important cultural and ideological links that reach beyond the traditional political, economic and imperial networks that are the subject matter of much historiography, and therefore provide new insights into Scotland’s global connections.

Proposals for twenty-minute papers are invited, particularly from postgraduate students, focusing on historical, sociological, theological, artistic, literary, legal, architectural and cultural aspects of religion in Scotland. Comparative studies, papers on the influence of Scottish religion abroad and papers on religion in Ulster are all welcome. Due to the generosity of the Royal Society of Edinburgh the residential conference will be free for all those who deliver papers. A nominal fee of £25 will be required from those who attend but do not deliver papers. Individuals giving papers will also be prioritised in registration should the event be fully booked.  Proposals should be submitted by 15 April.

Selected papers will be published in a collection of conference proceedings.

The conference is part of the Royal Society of Edinburgh-funded Scottish Religious Cultures Network. This event has also been warmly supported by the Scottish Catholic Historical Association and the Scottish Church History Society. 

Proposals, general correspondence and registration inquiries with the subject line ‘Belfast Conference’ should be directed to:

John Ogilvie SJ and the Jesuit Legacy in Scotland

21 March 2015, Royal College of Physicians, 232-242 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G5 5RJ

9:00 - Registration
9:25 – Welcome.
9.30 – Allan Macinnes, University of Strathclyde, TBC.
10:05 – Eleanor McDowell (Open University), St John Ogilvie – the lives he touched
10:35 - Stephen Holmes (University of Edinburgh), Jesuits, Liturgy and Catholic Reform in Scotland before 1560
11.05 – Tea/Coffee Break
11:35 - Paul Richard Goatman (University of Glasgow), Glasgow’s Catholics & John Ogilvie’s Mission
12:05 – Mark Elliot (University of St Andrews), Jesuit exegesis, Jacobean theology and the Scottish Church in the first two decades of the Seventeenth Century
12:35 - Alasdair Raffe (University of Edinburgh), James VII, the Jesuits & the Catholic Revival in Scotland, 1685-88
1:05 – Lunch
2:05 – Brian Mac Cuarta (Director of the Jesuits Archives in Rome), Scots Catholic exiles in Ulster in the early seventeenth century
2:35 – Tom McInally (University of Aberdeen), The Arrest, Interrogation and Trial of Patrick Weems SJ, Aberdeen, 1720
3:05 – Alasdair Roberts (Independent scholar), Jesuits, Ex-Jesuits and the Highland District
3:35- Break
3:55 – Raymond McCluskey (University of Glasgow), Defending the indefensible: John Stewart McCorry, Scottish Catholic Controversialist, and the Society of Jesus
4:25 – Julie Robinson (University of Glasgow), St Aloysius College, Glasgow: A comparative study of Jesuit Education
4:55 – Vote of thanks.
5:00 – Close.

Sponsored by the Scottish Catholic Historical Association, Scottish Religious Cultures Network and St Aloysius College Glasgow.


First Annual Scottish Religious Cultures Network Conference

Religion in Scotland

Dates: 24-25 October 2014

Location: Scottish Police College, Tulliallan

The Royal Society of Edinburgh funded Scottish Religious Cultures Network is hosting a conference on the role religion has [played] and does play in Scottish culture. Despite the steady secularisation of Scottish society understanding Scotland's religious past is essential for understanding Scotland's social present. Religion has served as a principal factor in the formation of Scotland by shaping cultural norms, delineating individual and corporate identities, and profoundly influencing the nation's legal and political institutions. This conference seeks to explore some of these aspects of the impact of religion on the making of modern Scotland.

Proposals for twenty minute papers are invited, particularly from postgraduate students, focusing on historical, sociological, theological, artistic, literary, legal, architectural and cultural aspects of religion in Scotland. Comparative studies, papers on the influence of Scottish religion abroad and papers on religion in Ulster are also welcome. The residential conference will be free for all those who deliver papers. A nominal fee of £25 will be required from those who attend but do not deliver papers. Individuals giving papers will also be prioritised in registrations should the event be fully booked.  Proposals should be submitted by 31 August.

Selected papers will be published in a collection of conference proceedings.

This event has been warmly supported by the Scottish Catholic Historical Association and the Scottish Church History Society.

Proposals, general correspondence and registration inquiries should be directed to Scott


Timetable – Friday 24 October 2014

2:00pm-3:00pm   Welcome and plenary lecture

Justin Livingstone (University of Glasgow)

David Livingstone, African Missions and their impact on Scottish identity.

3:30pm-5:30pm   Session 1: Catholicism in Scotland 1750 to the Present

Darren Tierney (University of Glasgow)

‘The Financial Development of the Catholic Church in Scotland, 1772-c.1830s’

Dr Raymond McCluskey (University of Glasgow) and Dr Linden Bicket (University of Edinburgh)         

‘Catholic Poets in Late Victorian Scotland’

Maureen McBride (University of Glasgow)

‘Changing position of Irish Catholics in Scotland: from the 19th century to the present’

Michael Ferguson (University of Edinburgh) ‘

Understanding Catholic liturgical music making in Scotland in the context of Scottish Catholic identity’

5:45pm–6:45pm  Dinner

7:00pm –8:300pm           Session 2: Faith in Modern Scotland

Steven Sutcliffe (University of Edinburgh)

A 'Scottish Thoreau': Dugald Semple (1884-1964) and the 'Simple Life' in the West of Scotland

Christopher R. Cotter (Lancaster University)

“Up here that's 'Posh Dave' pontificating”: Discourses on Religion, Locality and Nation in Edinburgh's Southside.


Saturday 25 October 2014


9:00am-11:00am             Session 2: Religion and Early Modern Identity

Catherine MacMillan (University of Edinburgh)

Women and Catholic Recusancy in Early Modern North East Scotland

Paul Goatman (University of Glasgow)

A Town Divided? Religious Life in Jacobean Glasgow, c.1585-1625

Alexander D. Campbell (Queen's University)

‘Beyond presbyterians and episcopalians: The historiography of the seventeeth century Church of Scotland’

Jamie McDougall (University of Glasgow)

‘The reception of the 1643 Solemn League and Covenant’

11:30am-1:00pm Session 3: Religion and Identity Formation

Abraham Kovac (Debrecen Reformed Theological University)

‘Christ is proclaimed to Christians? The Impact of Scottish Evangelicalism on Hungarian Reformed Theology, Piety and Praxis’ 

Eleanor Harris (University of the West of Scotland)

‘Scottish, British, or not of this world? Scottish Episcopalian identities amongst the founders of St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh, 1859-1879’ 

Liam Sutherland (University of Edinburgh)

‘Religiosity and Constructions of Scottish National Identity: A Social and Historical Analysis’

Kieran German (Independent Scholar)

'Confessional Ambiguity and Dynastic Dissidence: The Episcopalian Community in Aberdeen in the Jacobite Period'

1:30pm–2:30pm   Lunch

2:45pm-4:00pm   Session 5: Law and Policy in 21st Century Scotland

Catriona Cannon (University of Glasgow)

Conscience in the workplace – a question of definition

Beverley Friend (University of Glasgow)

‘Anti-Sectarian Strategies and New Approaches’

Mark Elliott (University of St Andrews)

'The Democratic Spirit and the Democratic Intellect in Scottish Religion'

Nuns’ Literacies -Medieval to Modern - Annual conference for History of Women Religious of Britain & Ireland  

29-30 August 2014, University of Glasgow

Get the Flash Player to see this player.