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Does God Want Us to Disarm?

Part of Belief and Beyond Belief

Immerse yourself in this discussion on the realities of opposing conflict on religious grounds.

Many believers take a strong stance against violence, with many refusing to fight in particular conflicts on the grounds of pacifism. In distinct ways, they see violence and conflict as standing in contradiction to God’s message of love and peace.

We explore the religious communities who take a stand against violence, call for an end to war, and demonstrate against the use of nuclear weapons and against conflicts around the world.

But in a troubled world, how realistic is avoiding conflict? Is it principled to take stand, or merely burying your head in the sand?

A panel of community leaders, activists and experts debate whether God wants us to disarm. Featuring@

- Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand, former leader of Reform Judaism and a regular contributor on BBC Radio Two.

- Naftali Brawer, who was ordained as an Orthodox Rabbi at the age of 22 and has ministered to two London congregations over the course of 15 years. He holds a PhD in Hebrew and Jewish studies and is a published author, columnist and broadcaster. He has written and lectured widely on theology and Jewish mysticism.

- Jasvir Singh, who advises the Labour Party and is Chairman, Legal and Media Relations Director for City Sikhs, an organisation run by Sikh professionals to create positive change within society.

- Nidar Singh Nihang, who is the sole-surviving master in a lineage of Sikh swordsmen and ninth teacher (gurdev) of a classical school of learning established in 1661, called the Baba Darbara Singh Shastar Vidya Akhara, which is the last remnant of this ancient tradition.

- Mahinda Deegalle, Professor in the Study of Religions, Philosophies and Ethics, College of Liberal Arts, Bath Spa University, United Kingdom. He is the author of several books, most recently Justice and Statecraft: Buddhist Ideals Inspiring Contemporary World (Nagananda International Buddhist University, 2017). He has held twice the NEH Professor of the Humanities at Colgate University, New York, USA and the first Numata Professorship in Buddhist Studies at McGill University, Canada. He has publications in national and international peer-reviewed journals, felicitation volumes and encyclopedias. He has been a post-doctoral research fellow at Kyoto University, Aichi Gakuin University, International College for Advanced Buddhist Studies, Tokyo with funding from Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai and The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. He regularly appears in BBC World Service, Buddhist TV and recently in BBC Big Questions. He has received a British Academy and Leverhulme Trust grant for research on Buddhist Engagements with Minorities in Sri Lanka. His recent published research has concentrated on the ethics of war and religious conversion in pluralist societies with a focus on Sri Lanka.

Chaired by Naima Khan, an Imam and a trustee of the Inclusive Mosque Initiative (IMI), a feminist mosque open to people of all genders. As part of her work with IMI she leads prayers, gives sermons at Friday prayers and conducts Islamic wedding ceremonies.

Dates & times

This event has passed.


Royal Festival Hall
The Clore Ballroom, Level 2


Included in Pass
£15, £25

need to know

This event is included in both the Sunday and Weekend Passes, and is part of With God On Our Side... Religion and War Weekend.