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Faith Communities — Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 12:21 pm on 29th May 2012.

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Photo of Lord Singh of Wimbledon Lord Singh of Wimbledon Crossbench 12:21 pm, 29th May 2012

My Lords, I thank my noble friend and colleague Lord Sacks for his moving and inspiring words. I have mild criticism for my noble friend Lady Flather for saying that no religion has ever done anything for women.

I begin by applauding the work of Her Majesty and the royal family and their kindness in welcoming different faith communities. Readings from other faiths were a central part of the Queen's Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey even before the founding of the Inter Faith Network 25 years ago. As part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations, Her Majesty visited places of worship of other faiths, including a gurdwara in Leicester, and the Prince of Wales and other royals have joined us in our different celebrations.

The Government too have been welcoming, after some initial wariness of what one official described as "all that bowing and chanting". In the 1980s, the importance of faith communities was recognised with the formation of the Inner Cities Religious Council, which later became the Faith Communities Consultative Council. My suggestion, through the Inter Faith Network, that we start the new millennium with an all-faiths service of reflection and reconciliation was enthusiastically taken up with a service in the Royal Gallery of this House. Our different faiths have responded well by contributing to the economic and social life of this country, but we have much more to do. We still seem to see our different religions as mutually exclusive, while in reality we share common values that are centred on responsible living. The challenge for us in this Jubilee year is to work with others in secular society to bring these values to the fore, and to change an obsession with the culture of "me and mine" to one of greater responsibility and active concern for others.