Backbench Business - Voluntary Sector: Faith Organisationsbackbench Business

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:09 pm on 5th May 2016.

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Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay 12:09 pm, 5th May 2016

I am happy to join my hon. Friend in congratulating that group. The Church and other faith groups can make a huge contribution to our society in supporting marriage and the family in general. Family breakdown is the cause of many of the challenges and difficulties that our communities face, so the more that families can be supported, the better it will be for our communities. The Church has a very important role to play in doing just that.

The Church can and should be proud of the contribution that it has made and continues to make to our society and our local communities. Often, the Church and other faith-based groups are best placed to meet and address the very real needs that our communities face. They are often very close to or embedded in those communities, and are aware of communities’ needs from a place of involvement. They are often flexible and adaptable, and are able to respond quickly when a need arises—we heard earlier about faith groups responding very quickly to crises such as flooding. They are also very practical. They go right to the point of need, rather than getting caught up in process and bureaucracy. They can see the needs that people face and respond quickly and practically to meet them.

It is also pleasing that we have a Prime Minister who is not afraid to acknowledge the work of the Church and other faith groups in our country. It is pleasing to hear him stand up in this House and declare that we are a Christian nation, and that it is our Christian heritage and the values it has given to our country that have made us the great country that we indeed are. He also actively supports the Church, other Christian organisations and other faith groups in their vital work. It is incredible that, in the 21st century, we have a Prime Minister who is not afraid to stand up and make statements like that, including in this very Chamber. We should be thankful that he is prepared to do so; it is quite refreshing, especially in an age when the Church is increasingly marginalised and is even sneered at in some quarters for its work.

Christians often feel that they need to play down their faith when they volunteer or are carrying out the work that they do. That is deeply regrettable. It is their faith that motivates them, so to find that they have to apologise for or in some way play down the role it plays in the work that they do is deeply concerning.