Faith must play a role in policy-making, says interfaith group

The Faith and Belief Policy Collective have written a letter to the incoming government, with ideas to help tackle new challenges facing Britain


Mitzvah Day founder Laura Marks (left) is one of the signatories of a letter from the Faith & Belief Policy Collective (F&BPC), calling for the next government to give faith communities a greater role when it comes to policy-making. Marks is pictured here with the Bishop of Edmonton the Rt Revd Canon Dr Anderson Jeremiah and Christina Spybey of Faith House at the launch of Mitzvah Day 2024 (Photo: Mitzvah Day)

Faith and belief should play an important role in policy-making, say the Faith & Belief Policy Collective (F&BPC), in a letter to the incoming government.

Writing to the future government, which will be elected tomorrow, the united faith leaders said “we…seek, and indeed claim the right, to bring our ideas and insights, along with others, to the policy-making table”.

Signed by faith leaders including Laura Marks – the founder of Mitzvah Day International and chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust – the letter presses for a “flourishing and equitable future for all citizens, in the face of unprecedented challenges”. They write that they sought a “profound and strategic re-imagining of the role and contribution of religion and belief in British society”.

According to the F&BPC, diverse faith groups should have representation in government, via consultation across a broad range of belief communities.

They are also campaigning for more comprehensive protections, including the appointment of a special envoy responsible for upholding the freedom of religion or belief. 

Politically, the F&BPC aims to bring five values into conversation with the incoming government – compassion, integrity, stewardship, community, and peace and reconciliation.

Laura Marks told the JC that the letter was “an urgent response prior to the general election to the failure of government to work closely with the faith and belief communities over many years, including now, when tensions are so high”.

She added: “The main focus is on better representation round the government table, more support for faith and belief led initiatives, a focus on the values we all believe matter in policy making and, of course, that we can live our lives as faith or belief communities without prejudice and in safety.”

The group of individuals and organisations with diverse faith and belief identities and backgrounds formed recently to tackle the complex challenges facing the nation.

They aim to “share ideas about the deep challenges currently facing our society, explore how faith and belief communities in the UK are addressing them in partnership with others, and provide support and solidarity in the face of growing social polarisation”.

The group is inspired by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple. After the Second World War, it was his imagination of a new Welfare State which helped to inspire the Beveridge report, a blueprint for social policy in post-war Britain.

The F&BPC sees the state of the nation as being in a similar place today, citing the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, war in Europe and the Middle East, and deepening social and economic inequalities as a few of the greatest challenges we face. As they see it, faith should be a part of the solution.

The letter follows the nation’s first ever interfaith hustings prior to today’s vote.

Faiths Forum for London held the event in the Crypt at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London’s West End with representatives of all of the nine major faiths.

Questions from faith leaders were put to the Conservative, Labour and Lib-Dem panelists on how their parties would engage with faith and belief communities.

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