The Implicit Religion conferences began in the UK in 1978, organised by Edward Bailey until 2015 and since then by Francis Stewart. The emphasis is strongly placed on the ‘conferring’ aspect rather than on delivery of polished academic prose or theory. At these conferences, scholars gather from around the world to discuss questions and ideas of what we mean when we talk about terms such as ‘religion’, ‘secular’, ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’. Each conference has a particular theme or focus highlighted on the call for papers that scholars and students from a range of disciplines coalesce around and engage with.
Since 2016 new features have been introduced, specifically the Edward Bailey Lecture in which an invited academic delivers a keynote lecture that engages with both the theme of the conference and the work of Edward Bailey. These lectures are recorded and placed onto the Implicit Religion YouTube channel and remain available to anyone. In addition, there is a dedicated panel for undergraduate and master’s students to present named “the Scratch Session’. Unlike the other academic panels the audience do not ask the students questions, instead, they must offer guidance and suggestions that the student asks for to improve or develop their work in relation to Implicit Religion. Finally, there is a flash session in which any person attending can speak for one minute about a project or an idea they have and everyone else can offer suggestions to help them, whether that be a particular reading or scholar to look at, another conference to attend, additional resources to focus on or questions to consider asking. This scaffolding is enabling flash ideas to become scratch sessions, and then into full presentations and publications.
The Edward Bailey Lecture is free to all members of the public, and a small number of audience spaces are held for interested members of the public, although there is a small charge for them. As noted on the memorial page, the conference is run on the basis of continuing Edward’s ethos of openness and support for emerging scholar and building support for marginalised scholars. With that in mind, we live stream the conference as well as putting it on Twitter, we welcome parents bringing children and ensure that all accessibility needs are met. Furthermore, younger or marginalised students and scholars are mentored and assisted to create a peer reviewed publication from their presentation.