Within two generations religion and belief have changed beyond all recognition in the UK. We are now much less religious, less Christian and more diverse that ever previously imaginable.
The following submissions are particularly noteworthy for their discussions of the changing landscape of religion and belief in the UK.
‘Minority religions, it seems, are tolerated as guests in the home as long as they remain polite and do not upset the host.’
Jay Ashra is an international development professional and teaches Hinduism at GCSE level. The author criticises Britain’s capitalist economy and suggests that ‘Capitalism and Religion have contrary aims’. The submission suggests that Britain ‘does not show equal respect for all religions’ because Christianity has a privileged place in public institutions and the law – ‘Where are the Hindu Lords Spiritual?’ Ashra calls for greater secularism in public institutions and ceremonies along French lines. This submission also discusses issues concerning law, media, social action and dialogue.
‘…faith is not seen as a culturally alien force, even though the devolved government is rigorously secular’.
The Church in Wales’ submission sets out the diverse landscape in Wales in terms of religion, denomination, ethnicity and language. The authors suggest that faith communities in Wales enjoy amicable relationships with each other and that this may have been influenced by a number of factors, including the absence of an established church and a legacy of Nonconformist traditions. They also suggest that historically strong religious practice has left a legacy of good religious literacy in Wales. This submission also discusses issues concerning the media, education and faith-based social action.
‘…religion is patently a matter of substantial indifference for the majority of people.’
David Pollock is former President of the European Humanist Federation. He sets out some conceptual approaches to ‘religion’ and ‘belief’ and provides various statistics attesting to the ‘rapid decline in the importance of religion’. He also offers some detailed discussion of legal issues and education.
‘…it would be a fundamental mistake to link people’s sense of being British to Christianity.’
Mohammed Amin suggests that there needs to be a form of national identity that appeals to all citizens irrespective of their religion or belief. He suggests that state ceremonies should reflect the diversity of religious and belief traditions in the UK relative to their size. He argues that many Muslims have incorrectly seen anti-terrorism legislation as discriminatory, rather than necessary.