Religion or Belief

Religion and belief is a protected characteristic that refers to a:

  1. Religion (e.g. Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Rastafarianism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Buddhism).
  2. Denomination of a religion (e.g. Anglicanism, Catholicism, Sunni, Lamaism).
  3. Religious or philosophical belief (e.g. Humanism, Spiritualism, Atheism and Climate Change).

Protection also applies to those who do not have a religion or belief.

Not all philosophical beliefs qualify for protection under the Equality Act 2010. Beliefs that do not substantially affect human life, are transitory or do not conform to democratic society, for example by conflicting with the fundamental rights of others, are not protected. So, for example, any cult involved in illegal activities would not satisfy these criteria nor, according to case law, do political beliefs.

More policy-related advice can be obtained through the University's Equality & Diversity section.

Additional support can be obtained from the Chaplain to the University Staff, Rev. Peter Hayler (tel. 01223 741718, email pjh89@cam.ac.uk).

The University has published Guidance for on Religion or Belief for Staff, which contains useful information and advice on religious practice and how this may impact the workplace.

Calendar of key faith festivals, seasons and diversity days

The University's Chaplaincy Development Group produces a calendar of significant dates, developed in partnership between the collegiate University, the Equality & Diversity section and the Chaplain to University staff. These dates are highlighted in order to help with the planning of University activities and functions.

Merton Hall Farmhouse

Merton Hall Farmhouse is the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy Centre for the University. It includes prayer rooms and is a space available to all, staff and students, of all faiths and none.

Additional external resources

A brief overview of Buddhism

Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, an Indian prince living in the 5th century BC; the word Buddha is not a name but indicates the state of a mind that has reached the highest development. Having given up his material attachments, the Buddha achieved enlightenment, or nirvana, under a bodhi tree and proceeded to teach what he had learnt to a group of followers, from which it has eventually spread across the globe. However, Buddhism cannot be regarded as a religious revelation as the Buddha's teachings are the apprehension of eternal truths.

Buddhism is not a simple religion in the traditional way as it does not involve the conventional conception of God and denies the existence of an eternal and immutable soul. Instead, he taught the Four Noble Truths.

Further information available at:

A brief overview of Christianity

Christianity is the most popular religion in the world with over 2 billion adherents. 42 million Britons see themselves as nominally Christian, and there are 6 million who are actively practising.

  • Christians believe that Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.
  • Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
  • Christians believe that God sent his Son to earth to save humanity from the consequences of its sins.
  • One of the most important concepts in Christianity is that of Jesus giving his life on the Cross (the Crucifixion) and rising from the dead on the third day (the Resurrection).
  • Christians believe that there is only one God, but that there are three elements to this one God:
    • God the Father.
    • God the Son.
    • The Holy Spirit.
  • Christians worship in churches.
  • Their spiritual leaders are called priests or ministers.
  • The Christian holy book is the Bible, and consists of the Old and New Testaments.
  • Christian holy days such as Easter and Christmas are important milestones in the Western secular calendar.

Further information available at:

A brief overview of Hinduism

Hinduism is one of the world's oldest religious traditions. It is often described as Sanatana Dharma by Hindus themselves, meaning ‘the eternal religion’. The word ‘Hinduism’ as it is used in common parlance usually refers to a myriad of religious sects and belief systems that came into existence in the Indian subcontinent since approximately 5000BC; therefore it is often difficult to make definitive statements about Hinduism in general.

Further information is available at:

A brief overview of Islam

The word Islam means ‘submission to the will of God’.

Islam is the second largest religion in the world with over 1 billion followers. The 2001 census recorded 1,591,000 Muslims in the UK, around 2.7% of the population.

  • Muslims believe that Islam was revealed over 1,400 years ago in Mecca, Arabia.
  • Followers of Islam are called Muslims.
  • Muslims believe that there is only One God.
  • The Arabic word for God is Allah.
  • According to Muslims, God sent a number of prophets to mankind to teach them how to live according to His law.
  • Jesus, Moses and Abraham are respected as prophets of God.
  • They believe that the final Prophet was Muhammad.
  • Muslims believe that Islam has always existed, but for practical purposes, date their religion from the time of the migration of Muhammad.
  • Muslims base their laws on their holy book the Qur'an, and the Sunnah.
  • Muslims believe the Sunnah is the practical example of Prophet Muhammad and that there are five basic Pillars of Islam.
  • These pillars are the declaration of faith, praying five times a day, giving money to charity, fasting and a pilgrimage to Mecca (at least once).

Further information is available at:

A brief overview of Judaism

Judaism is one of the oldest religions still existing today. It began as the religion of the small nation of the Hebrews, and through thousands of years of suffering, persecution, dispersion, and occasional victory, has continued to be a profoundly influential religion and culture. Today, 14 million people identify themselves as Jewish. Modern Judaism is a complex phenomenon that incorporates both a nation and a religion, and often combines strict adherence to ritual laws with a more liberal attitude towards religious belief.

Further information is available at:

A brief overview of Sikhism

Sikhism is a progressive religion well ahead of its time when it was founded over 500 years ago, The Sikh religion today has a following of over 20 million people worldwide and is ranked as the 5th largest religion in the world. Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind and denounces superstitions and blind rituals. Sikhism is open to all through the teachings of its 10 Gurus enshrined in the Sikh Holy Book and Living Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Further information is available at:

Directory

Christian

Church of England

Permanent Premises
University Church, Senate House Hill CB2 3PQ
University Chaplains
The Reverend Peter Hayler (chaplain@gsm.cam.ac.uk)
Regional Polity
Diocese of Ely
Places of Worship
Many local parishes
College chapels
Seminaries/Research
Ridley Hall
Westcott House

Roman Catholic

University Societies
Fisher Society
Permanent Premises
Fisher House, Guildhall Street CB2 3NH
University Chaplains
Father Alban McCoy (am335@cam.ac.uk)
Regional Polity
Diocese of East Anglia
Places of Worship
Many parishes
St Edmund's College
Seminaries/Research
Margaret Beaufort Institute

Methodist

University Societies
MethSoc
Permanent Premises
The Reverend Dr Tim MacQuiban (minister@wesleycam.org.uk
University Chaplains
Cambridge Methodist Circuit
East Anglia District
Places of Worship
Wesley Church, Christ's Pieces CB1 1LG
Seminaries/Research
Wesley House

Orthodox

University Societies
OrthSoc
University Chaplains
Father Raphael Armour (father.raphael@saintephraim.org.uk)
Regional Polity
Greek
Russian
Romanian
Places of Worship
Greek: St Clement's Church, Bridge Street CB2 1UF
Russian: Westcott House Chapel, Jesus Lane CB5 8BP
Romanian: St Giles' Church, Castle Street CB3 0AQ
Seminaries/Research
Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies

United Reformed

University Chaplains
The Reverend Nigel Yuden (minister@urc.candf.org, nominated by Church of Scotland)
Regional Polity
United Reformed Church Eastern Synod
Places of Worship
St Columba's Church: Downing Street CB2 3DS
Emmanuel Church: 72 Trumpington Street CB2 1RR
Seminaries/Research
Westminster College

Humanist

Regional Polity
Cambridge Humanist Group

Hindu

University Societies
Hindu Cultural Society
Krishna Consciousness Society
University Chaplains
Dr Vick Krishnan (chaplainvick@googlemail.com)
Regional Polity
The Indian Community and Culture Association of Cambridge
Places of Worship
Bharat Bhavan (former Old Library), Off Mill Road CB1 2AZ

Sikh

University Societies
Sikh Society
Places of Worship
Cambridge Gurdwara, Arbury Court CB4 2JD

Buddhist

University Societies
Buddhist Society
University Chaplains
Rachael Harris (rmh1001@cam.ac.uk)

Bahá'í

University Societies
Bahá'í Society

Jain

University Societies
Young Jains Society

Jewish

University Societies
Chabad Jewish Society
Jewish Society
Permanent Premises
Jewish Student Centre, 3 Thompson's Lane CB5 8AQ
University Chaplains
Rabbi Reuven Leigh (rl324@cam.ac.uk)
Rabbi Yisrael Malkiel (malkiel22@gmail.com
Regional Polity
Reform (Beth-Shalom)
Places of Worship
Orthodox: 3 Thompson's Lane CB5 8AQ
Reform: under construction
Seminaries/Research
Woolf Institute

Islamic

University Societies
Islamic Society
Permanent Premises
Sidgwick Site Prayer Room : Merton Hall Farmhouse
University Chaplains
Tim Winter (tjw31@cam.ac.uk)
Regional Polity
Cambridge Muslim Council
Places of Worship
Abu Bakr Jamia Mosque, Mawson Road CB1 2DZ
Omar Faruque Mosque, Kirkwood Road CB4 2PF
Seminaries/Research
Cambridge Muslim College