02 / 05 / 18
Phil Champain, Director of the Faith & Belief Forum
We are proud of our history and the clear vision of our founders, that dialogue is central to what we do, and engagement between Jews, Christians and Muslims is critical. Contact and encounter help equip learners for a world where there is an increasing need to understand and become familiar with people of different faiths and beliefs.
As the nature of people’s faiths and beliefs have changed over the years, so we have embraced the need to engage with an increasingly complex picture. This has necessitated us engaging with people of all faiths and beliefs. The emphasis on ALL has helped us move towards a new name which we officially adopt today – the Faith & Belief Forum. An extensive process of consultation with trustees, staff and stakeholders has fully informed this change.
Our new name also registers a commitment to ensuring dialogue and encounter works to erode the stubborn divisions that threaten to undermine relations between people of different faiths and beliefs. We know from our own experience there are high levels of inequality in the UK; that the media in all its guises is a conduit for both good and bad; that our leaders can struggle to set the right tone when it comes to policies that affect minority groups. Demographic change is presenting challenges for integration, meaning that, for many, feeling safe is not a given. These conditions serve to accentuate divisions, including those along faith and belief lines.
Indeed, a recent IPSOS/Mori report for the BBC’s Crossing Divides season found that 85% of respondents think Britain is fairly or very divided, and 75% think the UK is more divided than a year ago. Whether you like statistics or lean more towards Disraeli’s disposition of “lies, damned lies and statistics”, there is little doubt that work needs to be done to tackle divides. Tackling them creatively and together across faiths and beliefs maximises the potential to improve relations.
So, it is exciting that we, as an organisation, are in a position to build on our network of support to work together and convey greater clarity of purpose and relevance. We are proud to say we work with people of all faiths and beliefs, including those who do not identify with religious belief. And we aim to both equip learners and channel this learning to affect societal change.
We will, therefore, continue to work with schools, teachers and education policy makers to build exposure to and understanding of different faiths and beliefs. We will also equip young leaders in their efforts to improve society. We will consider and put in place programmes, such as the new LGBT + Faith work, that reflect the way in which faiths and beliefs intersect with a complex array of other characteristics that shape our identities. And we will develop partnership initiatives that reach far and deep into communities, such as our annual evening of Faith Recognition and Celebration, and our new Charter for Faith & Belief Inclusion.
I hope you will be able to take time to look at our work; and get involved so you can come with us on the next phase of our journey towards a world in which there are lasting and productive relations between people of different faiths and beliefs, where intolerance has no place, and where diversity adds value.
Welcome to the Faith & Belief Forum!