Friday, June 13, 2008

NSS Bulletin - Summer 2008

Fri, 06 Jun 2008
NSS Bulletin Issue 39 - Summer 2008 (PDF, 715K)

Communities Minister meets NSS

NSS Vice President Anna
Behan and Executive Director
Keith Porteous Wood met
with Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State in the Department of
Communities and Local Government
Parmjit Dhanda to exchange views
on community issues. The NSS
team felt the meeting was cordial
and productive.

Anna and Keith emphasised the
disenfranchisement felt by many
non-religious people as a result of
the Government’s over-emphasis on
religious groups. “We think the
Government should be blind to
people’s religion, but the
Government sees religious groups
as important to social cohesion and
community action,”
said Keith.
Mr Dhanda was keen to develop a
“less shrill”, more positive dialogue
between religious
and non-religious
sectors. Anna and
Keith made clear
the NSS
strongly supports
freedom of
religion and belief,
and freedom for
the religious to
express themselves. We do,
however, object to religious leaders
being given privileged access, as is
the case in Parliament, and a
privileged platform, as with the BBC

and many other media outlets.

We catalogued the frequent
attempts by religious organisations
and pressure groups to discriminate
against non-religious people,
sometimes employing brazenly
dishonest and scaremongering
tactics to do so. We also
emphasised our concerns about the
inequalities created by religious
schools and our conviction that
minority religious schools are

The meeting provided an
opportunity to bring to the Minister’s
attention the key points of a
submission Keith had recently made
to the Department’s consultation:
Face-to-Face and Side-by-Side: A
framework for inter faith dialogue
and social action. Some of the
recommendations were:
• Commissioning an independent
study of the impact on cohesion of
minority faith schools
• Trying to reach young people
through role models they can really
look up to – athletes and
sportspeople, for instance, rather
than through religious organisations.
• Engaging with the less religiouslycommitted
people in minority
• Appointing mentors – volunteers
taking a one-to-one interest in an
individual, for example encouraging
women out of ghettoes and giving
them opportunities to participate in
British life.
• Trying harder to reach
exceptionally disadvantaged or
unrepresented people in minority
communities such as children, girls
in danger of female genital
mutilation or forced marriage, and
women without freedom of
• Allocating more resources and
ingenuity to uncovering so-called
honour killings, forced marriages
and female genital mutilation, and
bringing the full force of the law to
bear on offenders.
• Recording the religion or belief of
each perpetrator of religiously
aggravated crime as well as that of
the victim.

Keith and Anna came away
feeling that there had been an
honest exchange of views and that
the Minister had been impressed
with what he had heard.

No comments:

Post a Comment