Faith should be critical not cosy towards power

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Commenting on the UK Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government's remarks that "faith must be respected and its power acknowledged by government", the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia has said that there is a danger that too cosy a relationship between government and the churches is bad for both, and that "Christian nation" rhetoric needs to be replaced by a vision of justice and fairness for all.

"Tying the interests of government and institutional religion together in a joint quest for legitimation and preservation reduces both to a functionalist role," commented Simon Barrow, Ekklesia's co-director.

He added: "The political system in Britain is facing a crisis which can only be addressed by democratic renewal, not by seeking to prop up or be propped up by particular interest groups.

"Likewise, historic Christian denominations need to move away from the 'Christendom mentality' of craving legitimation from those in power in order to rediscover the subversive core of their own message on nonviolence, restorative justice, welcome for the stranger, an economy of sharing and much more.

"A more constructively critical relationship with the status quo and solidarity with those at the margins of society is also a better basis for developing inter-faith relations with moral and theological integrity."