Journey Through Healing: Seminar on Sectarianism 22 January in Belfast

end sectarianismJourney Towards Healing has organised a seminar on ‘Sectarianism,’ set for 22 January from 7.oo-9.oo pm at the Balmoral Hotel (Blacks Road, Dunmurry) in Belfast.

On the island of Ireland sectarianism is something that just ‘hasn’t gone away, you know,’ and remains an important — if too often unrecognised — problem at all levels of society, both inside and outside the churches.

The seminar will feature a panel discussion led by Jim Gibney, of Sinn Fein; Father Gary Donegan; and Media Commentator & Journalist, Alex Kane. Reverend Dr. Gary Mason will facilitate civic engagement and response.

In their seminal book Moving Beyond Sectarianism (Columba, 2000), Joe Liechty and Cecelia Clegg offer a comprehensive definition of sectarianism that seeks to explain how people’s lives can be structured by sectarianism — even if they ‘don’t have a sectarian bone in their body’:

“[sectarianism is] a system of attitudes, actions, beliefs, and structures at personal, communal, and institutional levels which always involves religion, and typically involves a negative mixing of religion and politics. [It] … arises as a distorted expression of positive, human needs especially for belonging, identity, and the free expression of difference and is expressed in destructive patterns of relating: hardening the boundaries between groups, overlooking others, belittling, dehumanising, or demonising others, justifying or collaborating in the domination of others, [and] physically or verbally intimidating or attacking others.” (p. 102-103)

The seminar could be a good way for people to reflect and prepare for the upcoming 4 Corners Festival in Belfast (29 January-8 February). The 4 Corners Festival was started three years ago by a small group of Christians looking for ways to encourage people to break out of their usual patterns and routines, which are often structured by the city’s religious-based division.

The themes for this year’s 4 Corners Festival are generosity and imagination — both of which are sorely needed in order to break out of centuries-old patterns of sectarianism.

Please confirm your attendance at the seminar by e-mail to:  Sarah Caldwell at

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One thought on “Journey Through Healing: Seminar on Sectarianism 22 January in Belfast”

  1. Thanks as ever Gladys for your ongoing writing and interest! The definition in the Leichty / Clegg is masterly – but too long for everyday use. I use one given to me many years ago by a community leader… sectarianism is anything that belittles or demeans a person or group largely on the basis of their religious background. That works for me – and can be readily amended to cover racism or anything else. Norman Hamilton

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