Understanding 'the faith agenda'

By Simon Barrow
November 14, 2007

Among a vocal minority of those for whom religion is at best irrelevant and at worse an anathema, there is confusion about why government pays so much attention to faith groups.

One secular organisation recently declared: "The Government is in thrall to the churches. It has created a monster that it cannot now control. And it is continuing to feed that monster in order to make it stronger. More “faith schools”, more privileges, more kow-towing to the demands of bishops and imams."

Even if you think that's an exaggeration - and that its implication that all church engagement is 'monstrous' - it reflects a fairly widely held view among non-religious liberals of the broadhseet reading kind.

But it does nothing to explain why the government and church groups are finding common ground, apart from inferring that it must be a plot or an irrational blip. Far from it. There are clear vested interests at work, and until those are understood in terms of the demise of Christendom and the possibility of another role for faith groups and a critical reconsideration of government social policy, little will change.

Here Jonathan Bartley (with a bit of collaborative input from me) explains what's going on, and what the problems are (not least for the churches) in the 'new deal'. http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/6217

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