Who We Are

 
Inform's Patrons
  • The Right Reverend Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich (Church of England)
  • The Reverend Dr Hugh Osgood, The Moderator of the Free Churches' Group
  • Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia (Greek Orthodox Church)
  • Bishop Paul Hendricks (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark)
  • Professor Lord Desai of St Clement Danes
  • The Lord Ahmed of Rotherham
  • Baroness Sally Greengross of Notting Hill 
Inform's Advisory Panel
  • Sir John Allison 
  • Lady Allison (Gillian)
  • Abby Day, PhD; Senior Research Fellow, Department of Religious Studies, University of Kent; Visiting Research Fellow, Department of Geography, University of Sussex; Chair of the British Sociological Association, Sociology of Religion Study Group
  • Monsignor Peter Fleetwood; consultor to the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and priest of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool
  • Canon Dr Giles Fraser; Parish Priest at St Mary's Newington, Southwark and columnist for The Guardian
  • Professor Conor Gearty, PhD; Professor of Human Rights Law, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Professor Ron Geaves; Director of the Centre for the Applied Study of Muslims and Islam in Britain and Professor of the Comparative Study of Religion, Liverpool Hope University
  • Professor Mark Hill QC 
  • Professor Mary Kaldor; Professor of Global Governance and Director of the Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit at the London School of Economics
  • Philip Katz QC; Barrister
  • Hugh Marriage OBE; former Home Office Senior Civil Servant who has been associated with Inform since its inception
  • Jim McManus; Director of Public Health, Hertfordshire County Council
  • Ziya Meral MSc; researcher and expert on Middle East and religious freedom
  • Sarah O'Grady; Governance Adviser, Mediator, Solicitor
  • Damian Thompson PhD; a Director of the Catholic Herald
  • Robert Towler, PhD; Former Head of Research, Independent Television Commission
  • Professor David Voas; Professor of Population Studies, Institute for Social & Economic Research (ISER), University of Essex
  • The Revd Dr James Walters, LSE Chaplain
  • Professor Linda Woodhead; Professor of Sociology of Religion at Lancaster University and Director of the Religion and Society Research Programme
Inform's Board of Governors
The Board is responsible for Inform's overall policy. It meets twice a year and submits an Annual Report and audited accounts to Companies House and the Charity Commissioners.
  • Professor Eileen Barker, PhD, OBE, FBA (Chair); Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Professor James Beckford, PhD, FBA (Vice-Chair); Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick; Nominee of the British Sociological Association, Sociology of Religion Study Group
  • George D. Chryssides, DPhil; Honorary Research Fellow in Contemporary Religion, University of Birmingham
  • Professor Graham Harvey, PhD; Reader in Religious Studies, Open University
  • Warwick Hawkins, MBE; Director of Faith in Society
  • Professor Kim Knott, PhD; Professor of Religious and Secular Studies, Lancaster University
  • The Right Reverend William Kenney, c.p.; Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, Nominee of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster
  • The Reverend Andrew Maguire, MA, BD (Treasurer); Nominee of the Free Churches' Group, Superintendent Minister of the West Norfolk Methodist Circuit
  • Marat Shterin, PhD; Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Religion, Department of Religious Studies, King's College London
  • The Reverend Alan Walker, MA, MTh, LLM; Parish Priest
 
Inform's Management Committee
The Management Committee is responsible for monitoring progress and making day-to-day decisions, including the appointment of staff.
 

Professor Eileen Barker, PhD, OBE, FBA

Founder of Inform, Chair of Inform's Board of Governors and an Honorary Research Fellow for Inform; Professor Emeritus at the London School of Economics. Sociologist of Religion, she has been researching minority religions and the responses to which they give rise since the early 1970s. Her study of conversion to the Unification Church for her PhD, led to an interest in a wide variety of movements, and she has personally studied, to greater or lesser degree, over 150 different groups. As the first-generation movements aged, she became interested in the changes, particularly the arrival of second-generation members and those who leave the movements. For the past twelve years, she’s been interested in differences between ‘cult-watching’ groups and the dynamics within and between these groups and the religions. She has over 300 publications, translated into 27 languages. She travels extensively for research purposes, particularly in North America, Europe and Japan, and, since collapse of the Berlin Wall, in Eastern Europe and, more recently, China. She was the first non-American to be elected President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Click here for information on some of her publications.

 

 Professor James Beckford, PhD, FBA

Chair of Inform’s Management Committee and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology, University of Warwick.  In addition to editing Current Sociology from 1980 to 1986 and to serving as Vice-President of the International Sociological Association from 1994 to 1998, Jim served as Chairman of the Study Group for the Sociology of Religion (1978-1983), as President of the Association for the Sociology of Religion (1988-1989), as President of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion (1999-2003), and is currently President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Beginning with studies of sects and religious organisations, he went on to study the controversies surrounding ‘cults’ or new religious movements in various countries, religion and the mass media, theories of religion in advanced industrial societies, chaplaincies in prisons and hospitals, and Muslims in Europe.  He is currently active in research networks in Canada, Switzerland and France. Click here for information on some of his publications.

 

The Reverend Andrew Maguire, MA, BD

As you can see from my picture I am an ordained Christian Minister, my denomination being the Methodist Church. I was ordained in 1983 and have served in circuits/churches in East Norfolk, South London, Bristol, North Hertfordshire and now in West Norfolk where since September 2012 I have been the Superintendent Minister of the West Norfolk Methodist Circuit. I became a Governor of Inform around 1990. I was approached by the Free Church Federal Council (now the Free Churches Group) to go to an Inform Seminar and to give a report about whether Inform should be supported. I gave my (favourable and sympathetic!) report and I was then asked to be the Free Churches nominee on the Board of Governors. I am now on the Management Committee and also Treasurer. Among my other interests is the study of original language Greek and Latin texts from the first five centuries of the Christian Church. My first degree was in Classics. I taught New Testament Greek at Wesley College in Bristol during my time as minister in Westbury-on-Trym. Now I run a website that gives several early Christian texts and translations with links to a lot of background information - www.earlychurchtexts.com.
 
 

University Liaison Officer 

Marat Shterin, PhD
 
Senior Lecturer in Sociology of Religion, Department of Religious Studies, King's College London since 2005, Marat received his PhD in Sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) where he was awarded the Robert McKenzie Prize for outstanding performance. Marat's research is concerned with various aspects of religion and society, New Religious Movements (NRMs), new Islamic groups, and new Charismatic and Pentecostal Christian groups in Western and Eastern Europe; religion, conflict, and violence; religion, state, law, and human rights. He has also undertaken a number of policy assessment studies, such as "Potential for Ethnic and Religious Conflict in the Volga Federal District of the Russian Federation" (2002) for the American International Development Agency (USAID). Click here for information on some of his publications.
 

Honorary Research Fellows

Professor Jean La Fontaine, PhD

Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science, Jean carried out anthropological fieldwork in eastern Uganda, Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) and in England. She has been interested in ritual since writing on initiation ritual for her Ph D. and has publications on witchcraft and on allegations of satanic abuse in England, the subject of her book Speak of the Devil . She is currently researching accusations of witchcraft against children in the African diaspora and recently edited the Inform publication entitled The Devil’s Children: From Spirit Possession to Witchcraft, New Allegations That Affect Children. Click here for information on some of her publications.
 
Bernard Doherty, PhD
 
Doctor Bernard Doherty is a graduate of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, where he undertook undergraduate studies in ancient history and theology, postgraduate studies in early Christianity and Jewish studies. His PhD was on the second century Christian sect of the Montanists. In 2012 Bernard was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Studies in Religion at Baylor University where he worked on the topic of New Religious Movements and their interactions with Australian society. He now teaches religious history and New Religions at Macquarie University and St Mark’s National Theological Centre (Charles Sturt University). His research interests are wide ranging and include early Christian and Australian religious history, New Religions and the media, New Religions and public policy, religion and politics, religious sectarianism, and the study of the development of religious pluralism in post-WWII Australia. Bernard has published in a number of journals including the Journal of Religious History, Nova Religio, the International Journal for the Study of New Religions, the Alternative Spirituality and Religions Review, Phronema, and the Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society.
 
 

Research Fellow

Suzanne Newcombe, PhD
 
Suzanne was a Research Officer at Inform from 2002-2016. She is currently working at Inform as a post-doctoral research fellow on AYURYOG, an European Research Council, Horizon 2020 grant looking at the Entangled Histories of Yoga, Ayurveda and Alchemy in South Asia. She is also a Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University. Click here for information on her publications.
 
 
Inform's Staff
 
 
Sarah Jane Harvey, MSc
Senior Research Officer
 
Researcher at Inform since 2001, Sarah has an undergraduate degree from the University of Manchester in Comparative Religion and Social Anthropology and a Masters degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Social Research Methods (Sociology). She is currently writing her PhD thesis, entitled ‘A Nicer Birth: Negotiating the Ideal and the Practical in Natural Birth’, in the School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent. At Inform, she responds to many of the enquiries that Inform receives, helps maintain the database of religious movements and manages some of the Inform projects.  She is particularly interested in Pagan religions, new Christian movements, and millennial movements. She has co-edited two volumes in the Routledge-Inform book series, including a volume on prophecy and another on counselling. Click here for information on her publications.
 
 
Silke Steidinger, MSc, UKCP reg.
Assistant Research Officer
 
Silke has been Assistant Research Officer at Inform since 2006. The primary focus of her work is researching religious groups for the Inform database and cataloguing the Inform library. In 2004, she received an MSc in Religion in Contemporary Society (Sociology) from the London School of Economics, the focus of her dissertation being on death in New Religious Movements. In 1999, she received a BA (Hons) in Religious Studies from King’s College London. She is also a UKCP registered attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist. Click here for information on her publications.
 
 
Shanon Shah, PhD
Research Officer
 
Shanon started working at Inform in 2017 and has lectured/taught at the University of Kent and King’s College London. His PhD research, completed in 2015, compared the experiences of Muslim sexual minorities in Malaysia and Britain. He continues to research and write on contemporary expressions of Islam and Christianity in Malaysia and Britain. He is also the Deputy Editor of Critical Muslim, a quarterly published by the Muslim Institute and Hurst and contributes research to other charities, including New Horizons in British Islam and Stonewall in Britain and Sisters in Islam in Malaysia. Click here for information on his publications. 
 
 
Susannah Crockford, MA
Research Officer
 
Susannah started work at Inform in April 2017. She is in the process of submitting her PhD thesis in anthropology at the London School of Economics, titled “After the American Dream: spirituality and political economy in Northern Arizona”. This thesis examines ‘new age’ spirituality based on two years’ ethnographic fieldwork in two small-towns, Sedona and Valle. Previously, she completed an MA in Religious Studies at the University of Amsterdam, specialising in the history of western esotericism, and an undergraduate degree in Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. Click here for information on her publications.