Religion Media Festival 2022 – key moments

Image credit: RMC
Image credit: RMC

Our annual religion media festival “Exploring Belief” was held on the 22nd May 2022 at the JW3 Centre, and was a resounding success. Explore some of the key panel discussions and interview videos available to view on YouTube below:

Cardinal Vincent Nichols on Ukraine: no doubt who is the aggressor

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, leader of the Roman Catholic church in England and Wales, gave a wide ranging interview on the war in Ukraine, the government’s refugee policy, climate change and sex abuse. In an interview with journalist and broadcaster Roger Bolton, he said conflict and climate change both contribute to the scale of the refugee crisis and called for “new international accords” to tackle it.

Machines are starting to think for themselves, but do they have souls?

We are living in the second machine age when human mental capabilities are reproduced and even bettered, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI). But whether AI equates to a soul depends on language and its meaning, which is nuanced, often undefined, in contradiction to the way AI works. In this panel discussion, Rosie Dawson delves into the questions AI poses, with Dr Nick Spencer, senior research fellow at Theos, whose research on Science and Religion provoked this discussion; Dr Beth Singler, junior research fellow in Artificial Intelligence at Homerton College, University of Cambridge; Professor Neil Lawrence, DeepMind Professor of Machine Learning at the University of Cambridge; and Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, of the Bromley Reform Synagogue.

Introducing Aleem Maqbool, the BBC’s new Religion Editor

Aleem Maqbool has just been appointed as the new Religion Editor at the BBC. A senior correspondent, he was BBC News’ North America correspondent from 2014 until he started the new role. His previous postings include Pakistan correspondent and Gaza/West Bank correspondent. Roger Bolton found out more about him in this interview.

Invisible faith communities – Creating Connections

At the end of 2021, the Religion Media Centre delivered an innovative project, “Creating Connections”, to bring together local journalists, representatives from religious groups, religious education teachers, academics and civic leaders in five English cities – Leeds, Plymouth, Nottingham, Birmingham and Manchester. It found a gulf between journalists eager for stories and faith groups wary of telling them and invisible to the media. Leo Devine hosted with guests: Dr Kathryn Wright CEO Culham St Gabriel’s Trust, which funded the project; Mark Thomas, News Editor, ITV West Country; Michelle Mayman, Editor BBC North West Tonight; Alex Strangwayes-Booth, BBC senior local radio religious producer; Rev Frances Finn, TV and radio presenter; Rev Clive Foster, senior pastor, Nottingham; Dr Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, Senior Lecturer in Sikh Studies, Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham.

Women in religious leadership – has anything changed?

Women have become more prominent in leadership roles of many faiths in the last 30 years. Some are visible in traditional hierarchies, as bishops or rabbis. But many are leading in other ways within their own communities, learning from women in other faiths. In this panel discussion Hannah Scott Joynt asked what difference women in leadership have made, with guests Professor Linda Woodhead, King’s College London; Dr Maryyum Mehmood, Associate Director of the Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion, University of Birmingham; Rev Dr Jo Bailey Wells, Bishop of Dorking; Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers, community educator at the Movement for Reform Judaism.


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