During the last week of November I attended a reception hosted by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, for Inter Faith Week.
Inter Faith Week for England and Wales is into its second year although it has been running for a number of years in Scotland. In its own way it is remarkable how unremarkable it has now become for people of different faiths to be in the same room together. More than a few times have I heard people comment “10 years ago this would have been unthinkable”.
OK – so now what?
We are happy to be in the same room together, to talk together, to work together especially in local communities. It is now almost expected that t times of national importance or emergency national faith leaders will stand together and speak with one voice.
Great! But where to now?
Is Inter Faith Week something we work towards, creating a new initiative that will be eye catching on a website, or a photo opportunity for a political leader anxious to seem “in touch with ordinary people”?
Or is Inter Faith Week a time to remind ourselves, our society and our political leaders how much religion has contributed to our society, how (in particular) the churches have always been at the heart of our society: its service of the poorest and most vulnerable, movements for social change and the soft heartbeat of its spirituality?
So is the important issue may not be how the religions work together but how we recognise the role that religion has played and what role it should continue to play in the future?
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