Religion and spirituality
By Bernard Moss

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Religion and spirituality are emotive areas where unnecessary polarisation is all too common. Professional training courses for human services practitioners have tended to neglect these areas. Bernard Moss's skilful and sensitive book redresses the balance on both scores, and - as Neil Thompson writes in his foreword - "deserves to become a classic."

Religion and Spirituality's starting point is a celebration of diversity and the need to treat others with dignity and respect, especially when views differ widely. It builds on the increasing recognition in various fields of people's religious and spiritual needs and explains why the issues should be taken seriously. Bernard Moss's cogent and accessible exposition will convince any human services professional that ignoring these issues is no longer an option, for social, cultural and legal reasons.

This is what one of the world's leading authorities in the field of spirituality and social care says of this important book: "Bernard Moss is one of the few authors I know who can explain concepts so thoroughly, carefully and logically. He presents a huge amount of complex information in a way that readers can easily grasp, and then apply it to their professional and personal situations. It is as if he is talking personally to them and answering the questions they are just beginning to formulate in their minds." Leola Furman, Professor Emeritus, University of North Dakota. Co-author of Spiritual Diversity in Social Work Practice: the heart of helping.

Religion and Spirituality is part of the Theory into Practice Series (Series Editor: Neil Thompson). This exciting new series fills a significant gap in the market for short, user-friendly texts, written by experts, that succinctly introduce sets of theoretical ideas, relate them clearly to practice issues, and guide the reader to further learning. They particularly address discrimination, oppression, equality and diversity. They can be read either as general overviews of particular areas of theory and practice, or as foundations for further study. The series will be invaluable across the human services, including social work and social care; youth and community work; criminal and community justice work; counselling; advice work; housing; and aspects of health care.

Paperback. 120 pages. 978-1-903855-57-7. Published 2005. £14.95.



Prologue: a personal perspective
Setting the scene
The theory base
Religion and spirituality: towards some definitions
Religion: the case against
Religion: the case for
Legislative imperatives
Implications for practice
Personal perspectives
The loss of meaning and the meaning of loss
Social justice
Tackling discrimination and oppression
Celebrating diversity: setting the scene
Strength, resilience and power
Challenging discrimination: fostering resilience
Practice snapshot: religion, spirituality and mental health
Guide to further learning


Bernard Moss
is a Principal Lecturer in Social Work and Applied Social Studies and a Learning and Teaching Fellow at Staffordshire University. His teaching interests include mediation; death, dying and bereavement; divorce and separation, and spirituality in health and social care. He is the co-ordinator of the Centre for Spirituality in Health and Social Care in the Faculty of Health and Sciences at Staffordshire University. His previous experience includes university chaplaincy and being a leader of a faith community. He has been a marriage counsellor, probation officer and a family mediator. His publications include a chapter on Spirituality in Thompson (2002) Loss and Grief: a Guide for Human Services Practitioners, and a training pack on Issues of Grief and Loss. His research interests include evaluating the contribution which faith communities can make to enhancing social capital in their localities.


"Social care staff, those in youth and community work and criminal and community justice work, and housing and healthcare staff can come across religious and spiritual issues in the course of their work, but may be embarrassed or uncertain about how to proceed. This reader is intended to help staff engage with people's religion and spirituality, if appropriate… It guides the reader through ways of celebrating diversity, fostering resilience and challenging discrimination. It is an authoritative and thought-provoking text which is practical and straightforward." Care and Health.

"Timely and animated by numerous strengths. It is readable, engaging and concise. Although the chapters are short, they are typically filled with important insights. Indeed, many of these insights are indispensable for holistic service provision… displays an impressive degree of cultural sensitivity toward people of faith… this text represents an important contribution to the mainstreaming of spirituality in social work practice. For many practitioners, educators, and students interested in providing holistic, culturally sensitive services to clients, this book will be an extremely useful resource." Journal of Social Work.

"Exactly what social work needs at present: a cogent, compelling and clear exposition of the theory and practice of religion and spirituality in human services. As the UK becomes an increasingly multicultural and multifaith society, and, as identity is often inextricably entwined with faith and / or spiritual practices, this text and its offspring will be seen as increasingly important… particularly welcome, as it comes from a respected social work educator of great integrity." Health and Social Care in the Community

"Spirituality is an increasingly elastic concept as well as a growing business. Moss's book therefore makes a welcome contribution to expanding the debate in this rapidly changing context. His starting point is a recognition that the worlds of youth and community work, social work, healthcare and so on, have begun to acknowledge the 'invisible presence' of religion and spirituality in the lives of service users and are required to take account of it in their practice, irrespective of individual practitioner's personal perspective on the matter." Youth & Policy.

"Spirituality and religion and how they will fit with professional practice is one of the most interesting current debates. This book by Bernard Moss brings several of the key issues to the fore. The author is not afraid to tackle this large and contentious subject head on… Moss approaches spirituality and religion from many social and psychological angles… One of the strongest areas of the book is where Moss challenges professionals, not least those working with young people, to engage with spirituality and religion. He argues that spirituality is a crucial dimension of being human and that it is impossible to work with these dilemmas without engaging with religion and faith… The book is an important contribution to the debate and is rich with references and thoughts that could lead to further exploration… there is a lot in here that will be useful to the field." Young People Now.

"A brisk survey of many faiths and how "legislative imperatives" ought to place them at the centre of practice. The author's style veers between formal and chatty." Community Care.