Here's a report that has some common sense and a lot of ominous signs undergirding the events it covers.
The Archbishop of Canterbury recently joined the Communities Secretary Hazel Blears for the launch of a government consultation supporting inter-faith dialogue among Britain's faith communities. Dr Williams and over 200 representatives from a cross section of church, inter-faith and community organizations joined Mrs. Blears and Cohesion Minister Parmjit Dhanda for the start of the "Face-to-Face and Side-by-Side" consultation. The consultation will look at the inter-faith work currently underway in Britain and will recommend ways the government can support these initiatives in order to foster integration and social cohesion within the community.
It comes in response to the report "Our Shared Future" published by the Commission on Integration and Cohesion published last June, which acknowledged the role faith groups play in reducing ethnic and social tensions. The Communities Secretary said: "Faith groups are a key part of the way we respond to the challenges we face from building strong resilient communities to tackling anti-social behaviour."
The consultation, which runs through March 2008 "provides us with an opportunity to find out how Government can best support dialogue between faith groups and the circumstances in which inter faith activity is helping to make a positive difference," Mrs. Blears said. "By learning how we can all better work in partnership with each other to increase inter-faith dialogue and social action we can ensure that this activity results in tangible and positive change within local communities in terms of increased cohesion, greater community empowerment and resilience to extremism in all its forms,' the Minister said.
Now, one can understand that it is necessary for the government of any country with a multi-cultural population to have leaders from each section of the community sit down and discuss how to avoid potentially deadly confrontations. But there is something very sinister when a socialist government sets up a religious gathering of all sorts of religious leaders with a mandate to find ways to remove "misunderstandings" and other causes of inter-cultural tension. Inevitably, there will be a call for the cessation of Christian missionary work among other religious groups-though Britain's communal troubles have never been the result of Christian witnessing. Some years ago the world Council of Churches proposed a moratorium on Christian missionary activity in Africa-thankfully ignored by Bible believers. It is to be feared that if it suits the secular government's agenda to placate irate ethnic or religious minorities, particularly the Muslim minority, it will use the power ceded to it to get involved in inter-faith work to crack down on any form of vibrant Christianity. It is a big mistake to establish a godless government as the broker among varying faiths and especially as it will work on the assumption that Christianity, to which Britain owes its existence, is just another one of those faiths. This will be a story to watch in 2008.