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Faith in a Changing Political Landscape

July 11, 2017

1999 National Meeting Report covering the role of faith in: the Regional Development Assemblies and England; the Scottish Parliament; and a reformed House of Lords.

clear inequalities show up statistically between the different regions of England: unemployment figures, skill levels; most recently housing and housing developments, house prices and the availability of appropriate planning permissions for building new homes.

Faith permeates every aspect of life, including economic development, education, health and the environment. There is, however, always a risk that faith community representatives are asked to become involved on a token basis and that their contributions are not taken as seriously as they should be.

Often participation by faith communities in public life has in practice meant the involvement of Church of England or at best some Christian ecumenical grouping.

There are no visible mechanisms to ensure financial support to help Assembly members with the briefing and administrative support they need. There have been suggestions for making use of lottery money, but not surprisingly a number of faith communities would not be happy with this. It seems unreasonable to expect underfunded voluntary organisations to find ways of resourcing these representatives.

The Jewish Board of Deputies: We recognise that the Church of England, as the established Church, has a particular and unique place within the governance of the United Kingdom. But in view of the way in which the country has now become a diverse multi-cultural and multi-faith society, we suggest that there is a case for considering whether, and if so how, other major faith communities of the United Kingdom should be guaranteed representation in the reformed second chamber.

The problem for those of us who believe that faith communities should be represented is: “Who are the representatives?” The question was put most eloquently recently by Clifford Longley writing in the Daily Telegraph. He said “The Free Churches dislike what they call ‘Prelacy’ and change their leadership personnel every year or two to avoid it. The Muslims and Hindus are not fully organised at a national level, though they are getting better at it. Progressive Jews do not accept Rabbi Sack’s leadership, and will want a peer of their own. Nor will the organised atheists want to be left out.”

It’s online here

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