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Professor Graeme Smith

Professor of Public Theology

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Graeme Smith is Professor of Public Theology.  He investigates questions and issues relating to the public role of religion in society.  He has published two books: A Short History of Secularism and Oxford 1937: The Universal Christian Council of Life and Work.  He has written extensively on public and political issues including journal articles on Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Red Toryism and Reinhold Niebuhr.  He is the co-ordinator of the BIAPT Public Theology strand and was one of the founding editors of the journal Political Theology, of which he remains an editor emeritus.


Professor Smith has delivered papers and guest lectures at a variety of universities and colleges.  These include the universities of Birmingham, Manchester, Winchester, Roehampton, Cardiff, Oxford Brookes and Glasgow.

He has spoken frequently at the annual conference of the British and Irish Association of Practical Theology.

He has also delivered lectures to a variety of church groups including theological societies, theological colleges and courses, and, most recently, Chichester Cathedral’s College of Canons.

In May 2016 he was a keynote speaker at the Enlightenment and Secularism symposium organised by the Department of the History of Philosophy of the Institute of Philosophy, Jagiellonian University in Kraków.

He is an associate of the think tank Ekklesia.


Professor Smith is currently undertaking research in the area of public theology.  He is investigating how society and culture can exercise contemporary theological agency.

In particular he is exploring how ideas of God, humanity and salvation expressed through political and cultural life can be organized systematically and evaluated.

The project builds on two previous strands of Professor Smith’s work.  First the notion that the binary division between secularity and religion breaks down at key political and cultural moments and second the idea that theological categories can undertake critical work in the area of social theory.

The research is leading to a monograph publication.

PhD Supervision

Professor Smith would welcome inquiries from students who wish to research in the areas of public theology, social theology, practical theology, including areas of Christian ministry, and religion and schools, primary and secondary.

Examples of current research projects include:

  • An investigation into the impact of faith based identity on a school’s educational outcomes.
  • The importance of rural Church buildings and their immediate environment for people’s experience of God.
  • Analysis of the teaching of RE in primary schools
  • Examination of how values are selected and communicated in primary schools
  • Church mission amongst undergraduate students.

Research Output


Graham, E. and Smith, G. (2023) Don Cupitt: prophet, public intellectual and pioneer Public intellectual. Theology, 126 (3). pp. 174-182. ISSN 2044-2696 10.1177/0040571x231171279

Gilliat-Ray, S., Smith, G., Cadge, W., Sampson, H. and Turgo, N. (2023) ‘Here today, gone tomorrow’: the risks and rewards of port chaplaincy. Journal of Beliefs & Values, 44 (2). pp. 173-187. ISSN 1469-9362 10.1080/13617672.2022.2039982

Turgo, N. N., Cadge, W., Gilliat-Ray, S., Sampson, H. and Smith, G. (2023) Relying on the Kindness of Strangers: Welfare-Providers to Seafarers and the Symbolic Construction of Community. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 52 (2). pp. 192-217. ISSN 1552-5414 10.1177/08912416221092001

Smith, G. (2023) A theology of chaplaincy from below: changing the locus of theological agency. Practical Theology. pp. 1-12. ISSN 1756-0748 10.1080/1756073X.2023.2168230

Graham, E. and Smith, G. (2023) Don Cupitt: prophet, public intellectual and pioneer Prophet without honour: the marginalization of Don Cupitt. Theology, 126 (1). pp. 20-27. ISSN 2044-2696 10.1177/0040571x221146274

Sampson, H., Turgo, N., Cadge, W., Gilliat-Ray, S. and Smith, G. (2022) ‘Overstretched and under-resourced’: the corporate neglect of port welfare services for seafarers. Maritime Policy and Management, 50 (7). pp. 876-888. ISSN 0308-8839 10.1080/03088839.2022.2084788

Smith, G., Turgo, N., Cadge, W., Gilliat-Ray, S. and Sampson, H. (2021) A Working Theology: An Evaluation of the Popular Beliefs of Roman Catholic Filipino Seafarers. Practical Theology. pp. 1-12. ISSN 1756-073X 10.1080/1756073x.2021.1951945

Sampson, H., Turgo, N., Cadge, W., Gilliat-Ray, S. and Smith, G. (2020) 'Harmony of the Seas?': work, faith, and religious difference among multinational migrant workers on board cargo ships. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 43 (16). pp. 287-305. ISSN 0141-9870 10.1080/01419870.2020.1776362

Smith, G. (2020) No longer "speaking truth to power". Practical Theology, 13 (1-2). pp. 75-86. ISSN 1756-073X 10.1080/1756073x.2020.1738674

Smith, G. (2019) A Theology more Useful: Public Theology as Edification. International Journal of Public Theology, 13 (4). pp. 449-471. ISSN 1872-5171 10.1163/15697320-12341591

Rooms, N. and Smith, G. (2018) Editorial. Practical Theology, 11 (3). pp. 203-205. ISSN 1756-0748 10.1080/1756073x.2018.1475991

Smith, G. (2016) The British Churches and the 2015 General Election. Practical Theology, 9 (2). pp. 115-126. ISSN 1756-073X 10.1080/1756073X.2016.1147684

Smith, G. (2015) A Popular Public Theology. Issues of Pluralism, Identity, and Justice. Political Theology, 16 (1). pp. 20-32. ISSN 1462-317X 10.1179/1462317X14Z.000000000127

Smith, G. (2014) Taking Sides: An Investigation into Reinhold Niebuhr’s Rise to the Position of Public Intellectual. International Journal of Public Theology, 8 (2). pp. 131-157. ISSN 1872-5171 10.1163/15697320-12341339

Smith, G. and Smith, S. (2012) From Values to Virtues: An Investigation into the Ethical Content of English Primary School Assemblies’. British Journal of Religious Education. pp. 1-15. ISSN 0141-6200

Smith, G. (2012) Pluralism and Justice: A Theological Critique of Red Toryism. Political Theology, 13 (3). pp. 330-347. ISSN 1462-317X

Smith, G., Pattison, S. and Brown, M. (2012) The Possibility of Citizen Theology: Public Theology after Christendom and the Enlightenment. International Journal of Public Theology, 6 (2). pp. 1-22. ISSN 1872-5171

Smith, G. (2012) “You turn if you want to”: The questions a Pragmatic Political Theology might ask of Speculative Realism’. Political Theology, 13 (2). pp. 217-232. ISSN 1462-317X

Book Sections

Smith, G. (2021) The 1940s: Global War and Global Responsibility. In: The Oxford Handbook of Reinhold Niebuhr. Oxford Handbooks . Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 43-57. ISBN 9780198813569

Smith, G. and Schmiedel, U. (2018) The Theological Takeover. In: Religion in the European Refugee Crisis. Religion and Global Migrations . Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 297-307. ISBN 9783319679600

Schmiedel, U. and Smith, G. (2018) Charting a Crisis. In: Religion in the European Refugee Crisis. Religion and Global Migrations . Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 1-11. ISBN 9783319679600

Smith, G. (2017) Talking to Ourselves: An Investigation into the Christian Ethics Inherent in Secularism. In: The Sources of Secularism. Enlightenment and Beyond. Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 229-244. ISBN 9783319653938 10.1007/978-3-319-65394-5


Smith, G. (2004) Oxford 1937: The Universal Christian Council for Life and Work Conference. Other. Peter Lang, Hamburg.

Conference or Workshop Items

Smith, G. (2011) Doing God after all: What Tony Blair says about his Christianity in his political memoir 'A Journey'. In: British & Irish Association for Practical Theology Conference, 12-14 Jul 2011, London School of Theology, Northwood, London. (Submitted)


Smith, G. (2007) A Short History of Secularism. IB Tauris, London. ISBN 978-1845115777

Other department members

Clare Toombes
Student Employability Adviser
Dr Amra Bone
Associate Lecturer – Islamic Identities
Tommy Lynch
Dr Tommy Lynch
Reader in Political Theology

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