Tolerance is officially a British value. However, there are a number of signs that we are pretty intolerant in Britain too. In February 2021 the government announced it would appoint a “Free Speech Champion” and changes to the law to guard free speech in universities, after a spate of “no platforming” speakers and some academics losing their jobs for holding controversial views. During the course of 2020 surveys showed as a nation that we became increasingly intolerant of people who held different views from our own on wearing masks or not wearing masks. In this context, I know many people who wish they could discuss their ideas in a place where they would not merely be tolerated but treated with civility and respect.

The aim of the Aletheia Forum is to provide such a space. In particular, to provide space to discuss ideas the are of fundamental importance to our existence as human beings. That includes not only issues in the news today, but matters of lasting consequence to how we live and what gives purpose to our lives. Is there a hope that can sustain us even in the bleakest times? Does science have all the answers, especially since government policy decisions claim to be guided by science? When I have been hurt, is forgiving those who hurt me just a sign of weakness?

That is why we’ve called it the Aletheia forum. Aletheia is the Greek word for truth. None of us want to live life with untrue assumptions, false hopes, or or a faulty understanding for what is right, valuable, and meaningful. The Aletheia Forum is open to all, and is organised by Immanuel Church, Brentford. We want to encourage healthy, civil discussions with opportunities to question the ideas presented. We hope that if you hold different views to traditional Christian teaching — whether you describe yourself as atheist, agnostic, or a follower of another religion or faiths — you will feel welcome to engage civilly and constructively with the views expressed.

Each week, after brief introductions, there will be a short talk for about 15 minutes to introduce the topic of the evening, and hopefully to stimulate questions and discussion. Then there will be 30–40 minutes of time for questions and a chance to respond to the ideas that have been discussed. Finally ,the speaker will sum up. We hope to run this forum for 3 weeks 2 or 3 times a year. If you have suggestions of topics or questions you would like to see discussed, please email ImmanuelBrentford@gmail.com.

For more information, or to register to take part in a one of our discussion evenings, go to the Aletheia Forum page on our website https://www.immanuelbrentford.org/alatheia-forum.

Stuart Cashman

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