Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Britain's Commission on Religion In Public Life Issues Final Report

The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life-- created by the Woolf Institute in 2013-- released its final report yesterday. The Commission was chaired by a distinguished retired British judge, Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss. The 104-page report titled Living With Difference-- Community, Diversity and the Common Good makes wide-ranging recommendations.  It identifies important religious changes in Britain over the past 50 years: an increase in the number of non-religious individuals; a general decline in Christian affiliation, belief and practice; and increased diversity of religious beliefs among those who profess a religion. The report sets out a broad vision:
The commission’s vision is of a society at ease with itself in which all individuals, groups and communities feel at home, and in whose flrishing all wish to take part. In such a society all:
• feel a positive part of an ongoing national story – what it means to be British is not fixed and final, for people in the past understood the concept differently from the way it is seen today and all must be able to participate in shaping its meaning for the future
• are treated with equal respect and concern by the law, the state and public authorities
• know that their culture, religion and beliefs are embraced as part of a continuing process of mutual enrichment, and that their contributions to the texture of the nation’s common life are valued
• are free to express and practise their beliefs, religious or otherwise, providing they do not constrict the rights and freedoms of others
• are confdent in helping to shape public policy
• feel challenged to respond to the many manifest ills in wider society.
The Guardian reports on some of the Commission's recommendations, focusing particularly on those affecting schools.