The Community Religions Project (CRP)

Since 1976, the Community Religions Project (CRP) has conducted empirical research on religion and religions ‘near at hand’ in the cities of Leeds and Bradford and beyond. The CRP has been one of the key hubs of research activity in the Theology and Religious Studies at Leeds for nearly 40 years, involving both academic staff and students at all levels in research and engagement with the diverse cultures and religious communities in different localities within the UK. The primary focus of the CRP is now on learning and teaching, but we also maintain the research and policy archive of the CRP and retain our distinctive focus on ‘religion and locality’ by drawing  together local case studies, of interest to anyone studying religion in locality. 

Our unique research archive contains monographs and research papers published by the CRP.  These outputs cover a range of religions and localities and provide interesting snapshots of issues key to the study of religion from the 1970s to the 1980s. You’ll also find here a selection of photographs documenting religion in Leeds from a CRP exhibition held to mark its launch in 1976. Photographs from the 2011 exhibition ‘Religion in Leeds’ provide an interesting recent comparison with our archived images. Audio recordings from the CRP’s 35th anniversary celebration in 2011 are available here. 

By the 1990s, the academic study of religion in the UK, as well as internationally, had acquired a new significance as the nature and place of religions in modern global societies became radically revised. Academic commentators had begun to comment upon the so-called ‘resurgence of religion’ and governments and other organizations in the public sphere  recognized that understanding religions and religious organizations were important for issues around foreign policy, national security, social cohesion and  the delivery of social services.  

These changes were reflected in shifts within the CRP to move from a sole focus on ‘religion and locality’ and to also engage in policy-related research, from effective community policing to the politics of faith representations.  The policy archive contains details of this work. This will be of use to policymakers concerned with religion, community and public life in the UK. 

Today, the policy and public engagement dimension of our work are carried out in the Centre for Religion and Public Life, while the CRP develops our learning and teaching focus on the study of ‘religion and locality’. Some of our best undergraduate work on the locales of Leeds is added on an annual basis and provides a comprehensive account of religion in Leeds – from fieldwork reports on visits to places of worship through to large religious mapping projects and specialist research reports for local voluntary and public organisations. This material is invaluable for anyone interested in religion in Leeds. 

For those interested in learning and teaching at school, undergraduate or postgraduate level there are suggestions for ways to make use of the research archive, including the images. There are also module materials and fieldwork guides drawn from the highly successful suite of fieldwork based modules currently running in the study of religion at the University of Leeds.