Sunday, November 25, 2012

Britain's House of Lords Debates Role of Religion In Society

Last Thursday, Britain's House of Lords held a 90-minute debate on the role of religion in society in the United Kingdom. (Full text of the debate.) Lords from numerous faith traditions spoke. The concluding statement was made by Baroness Warsi, Minister for Faith and Communities, who said in part:
This Government believe that religion plays a vital role in British society. Not only do we support people in their right to follow a faith if they choose to do so; we also celebrate faith and faith communities' contribution to society...
Places of worship of different faiths in a town or city can sometimes be unaware of the work each is doing, often to address similar problems. The Government want to help build effective, co-operative working relationships between people of different faiths.... The Government are also happy to support A Year of Service, to highlight and link up faith-based volunteering efforts during Her Majesty the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year....
The Government are also committed to maintaining the status of religious education as a compulsory subject that all pupils must study throughout their schooling, subject to parental choice. Religious education is important so that children can understand the history that has shaped the values and traditions of this country, forming a key part of promoting the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of children and young people.... The Government also remain committed to the provision of collective worship in schools-or, as I knew them, assemblies.
... UK has a strong Christian heritage.... Britain is proud of its established church and Europe must be more confident in its Christianity. It is therefore right that religious education reflects the fact that the religious traditions of Great Britain are in the main Christian. Last year, every state school in England was provided with a King James Bible to mark its 400th anniversary and recognise the huge influence it has had on our culture, language, society and values....
The noble Lord, Lord Curry, also raised concerns about the perceived marginalisation of Christians. I am in receipt of the Christians in Parliament All-Party Parliamentary Group report setting out these concerns, and we are currently considering a response to that....
This Government believe that faith should have a seat at the table in public life.... [T]his is not a position of privilege but that of a strong contributor to the public debate.... This Government have held faith receptions at Downing Street for major festivals: Vaisakhi, Eid, Hanukkah and Diwali-and, yes, it was right that this coalition Government introduced the celebration of Easter as well.

1 comment:

Sanna said...

I feel like there's something to be said for the UK's strong Pagan heritage as well. I hope the Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Roman polytheisms in particular are taught as a part of the UK's compulsory religious education :) After all, they're so important to the history of the British Isles.