We’ve received the following email from the BHA:
The Commission on Integration and Cohesion (COIC) was set up by the Government to make recommendations as to how ‘local areas can make the most of diversity while being able to respond to the tensions it may cause’. They are now very close to making their final report and have asked members of the public to inform their last minute deliberations by contributing their own answers to the question, ‘If you were in charge for a day, what would you do to help people from different backgrounds in your neighbourhood get on better?’
It is very important that as many people as possible respond to this request by going to www.integrationandcohesion.org.uk and following the instructions for submitting comments.
There are a number of points that the BHA has made which it would be valuable to have echoed by individuals, for example:
- There should be no more faith schools created and existing ones should be phased out. Likewise, publicly funded social and medical care should be provided in an inclusive secular way, not divide people up by religion.
- The law should be changed to replace the requirement on state-funded schools to hold daily acts of worship with a requirement to hold inclusive assemblies and guidance under a new law should emphasise the promotion of shared values.
- The current curriculum subject of ‘Religious Education’ should be reformed into a more inclusive subject of ‘Beliefs and Values Education’ as part of the national curriculum.
- In strategies designed to promote greater social cohesion and integration, care should be taken that ‘communities’ defined by religion or other attribute are not always the units of choice for policy-makers. Communities defined by location may be more useful as units of choice.
- Where local projects are organised to encourage dialogue between people of different beliefs, those whose beliefs are not religious should be included – ‘inter-faith’, lazily assumed to include everyone, in fact does not.
Of course, all contributions made to the COIC should be in your own words and tailored to the specific question which the COIC are asking people to answer, but we hope that these suggested points are useful. You can see the BHA’s first and second submissions to the COIC at http://tinyurl.com/2hholv and http://tinyurl.com/2bhyk9 and we hope these too will be useful to you.