Religion, belief, rights and equality

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Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society think tank Ekklesia, has welcomed a series of conferences on equality, human rights, religion and belief which are being part-funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), organised by the British Humanist Association (BHA) and involve religious participants alongside others.

"This is a valuable opportunity to discuss how religion and belief plays out in terms of vital equality questions in Britain today, and to argue the case for a level playing field for all," said Mr Barrow.

"We now live in a multi-conviction, mixed belief society. This is a challenge to us all, including the churches, faith communities and secular organisations. There is lack of understanding on all sides, and some hostility too. We need better ways of addressing these issues, and the BHA's initiative in promoting these conferences is to be welcomed.

"Many of us from Christian communities are keen to embrace the comprehensive equalities agenda with enthusiasm, rather than seeking opt-outs and privileges. The Gospel message is about service and sharing, not self-seeking.

"As the Christendom era ends, the churches have an opportunity to review their practice and to rediscover the radically egalitarian dimension of their message which has often been obscured by an uncritical association with certain kinds of temporal power," concluded the Ekklesia co-director.

More information: http://ekklesia.co.uk/node/7924