An interfaith report published this week argues that the contribution of faith to society is likely to become “more pressing” after the coronavirus pandemic.
The findings are detailed in ‘Cohesive Societies: Faith and Belief’, by the thinktank Theos, was jointly commissioned by the British Academy and the Faith and Belief Forum (FBF) which charts social cohesion policy in the UK and examines the practical impact of the faith and belief sector in society.
Among the case studies that the report’s author Madeleine Pennington drew on was the Peace by Piece interfaith programme initiated by the West London Synagogue to promote positive Jewish-Muslim relations locally.
Another is the long-standing secondary school linking partnership between JCoSS and Tawhid Boys, with students touring museums and galleries together, and even jointly visiting Arsenal Football Club.
FBF director Phil Champain argued that faith and belief groups were “best viewed as an asset to society and not as a problem to be solved”.
He said: “This report clearly shows that integration issues are better addressed by approaching faith and belief communities in a spirit of partnership, recognising the positive role they can play in creating a more connected and cohesive society.
“Many faith groups already play a central role in bettering social cohesion while also providing crucial services in their local areas. By working to build better relations between our diverse communities, we can unlock even more of this potential for positive change.”