The British Prime Minister has backed a new report which has called on the government to work more closely with faith groups in solving social issues. The document titled Leveling Up Our Communities was put together by Christian MP Danny Kruger. In it, the Conservative politician outlines how the UK can build on the goodwill which has been established as a result of the coronavirus pandemic with thousands of people volunteering to help those who’ve had to isolate. He’s given a number of recommendations including a holiday called Neighbour Day and a new national database of volunteers for use in future emergencies. One other area which will interest churches, is what Kruger describes as a ‘new deal with faith communities’. The MP writes of the benefit they have brought during the pandemic and the need to better support them.
Kruger wrote”The Government should invite the country’s faith leaders to make an offer to help their communities, in exchange for a reciprocal commitment from the state. For each faith group, the offer would include the commitment to mobilise their congregations and commit their resources to tackling one or more besetting social problems in our society: problem debt, children in care, prisoner rehabilitation, rough sleeping, or something else. The faith group would commit to fully fund this work from its own resources. The reciprocal commitment by government would consist of a direction from the very top to all public servants, to facilitate the work of the faith group on the agreed mission.” Kruger also writes about the need to reduce suspicion which is often aimed at faith groups. “This commitment is often regarded suspiciously as ‘proselytism’.”
“The fact that most religious people wish the whole world to agree with them does not mark them as different from secular liberals, who also wish theology to be universal. A tolerant society has space for all.” Welcoming the report, Boris Johnson labelled it a “comprehensive and highly ambitious report containing many exciting ideas”. The Prime Minister also said the Government would now consider the proposals. In response, David Smyth, head of the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland said: “Throughout this pandemic the Church has remained active in local communities serving practically, loving compassionately and preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. “Churches have deep roots in local communities and are committed for the long-term. They often have buildings at the heart of the poorest communities and operate both nationally and locally.”
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