What is a Faith Minister for?

What is a Faith Minister for? January 2, 2018

Back in 2016, Christian Today, under the headline “Theresa May sidelines the role of faith minister”, complained that faith had been downgraded when she took over as Prime Minister from David Cameron.
CT said that faith issues were no longer being handled by a senior government official as they had in the past but a junior minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth

Alongside his responsibilities for religion, he also oversees community cohesion, race equality, troubled families, domestic refuges, travellers policy and is in charge of the Syrian Refugees Programme, said CT, suggesting that Lord Bourne had so much on his plate that he couldn’t possibly do give religion the attention it deserves.
Not so, Lord Bourne told Christian news site, Premier, in 2016.

Before the election in 2015 Baroness Warsi and Eric Pickles, above, both had the job of Faith Minister and a seat in Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition cabinet.
In an exclusive interview with Premier he was asked if he agreed with Warsi and Pickles’ opinion that there should be a specific Minister for Faith. He replied:

There is, it’s me. I’m very content to be doing the job that I’m doing, it’s a very important job and I think that I’m giving it all the attention that it needs.
I’m certainly getting round to faith communities and to different parts of the country to tackle and to discuss the issues that really matter to people.

He added that his experience over the past four months in the role is that faith groups working in their local community were:

Almost uniformly … doing an excellent job. There are terrific religious faith groups that do a lot of work.

Lord Bourne also said the Prime Minister’s Christian beliefs meant she had a “feeling for the underdog” and was “somebody who dislikes unfairness”.
He then made an earth-shattering announcement: he would tour of all of England’s cathedrals to better understand their continued importance both to local communities and wider society.
Well – hallalujah! – that crucially important work has now been completed, according to Premier, and the British public can rejoice in the fact that, after Bourne had toured all of England’s 42 Anglican cathedrals, an official government report had now been published – Cathedrals and their communities: a report on the diverse roles of cathedrals in modern England.
The report commends the cathedrals for their continued importance as places of worship, their wider community work and their commitment to promoting local economic growth has been published today by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
It highlights cathedrals as:

Diverse churches that are not only important sacred centres of worship but also places of valued social support and community and interfaith engagement.

Bourne said:

There is no better time to remind ourselves of the strong role cathedrals play in our national life than at Christmas, as worshippers gather in naves across the country to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
This year-long tour has given me a real understanding of how the innovation and vibrancy displayed by cathedral staff and their congregations is ensuring that these important churches continue to play a crucial role at the heart of local communities now and for centuries to come.

The Very Reverend Adrian Dorber, Chairman of the Association of English Cathedrals, also added:

Lord Bourne’s report is a really helpful endorsement of all that our English cathedrals are trying to be and do. We want to continue as places of welcome and be able to offer spiritual hospitality and friendship to all. We’re grateful to the Government for taking the time and trouble to conduct such a thorough programme of visits and investigation and for finding out what we do and what our ambitions for the future are. I hope the report will be widely read.

Our evangelist friend Bob Hutton is not impressed. He left this comment beneath the Premier report:

The money wasted on the up keep (sic) of these buildings should be spent on employing evangelists to go out with the message of the Gospel so that people can be saved from eternal damnation. An ornate building may look nice, but it doesn’t save a single soul from Hell.

Running short of dosh, eh, Bob?

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  • AgentCormac

    I am currently reading ‘The Road To Little Dribbling’ by Bill Bryson. In it is the following passage:
    ‘The world is full of shitty things that should never have happened. Look at Eric Pickles.’
    Amen to that, Bill.

  • Darn It

    Mr Pickles … Gluttony is a sin.

  • Daz

    Oddly enough, the word “faith,” in any of its meanings, is not one which I think attaches itself well to the word “minister.” (In its political meaning, of course.)

  • Alan C

    I’d love to see a debate between Baroness Warsi and Eric Pickles, each trying to convince the other that their ‘religion’ is the ‘true’ one and the other is shite.
    Darn it.
    ”Mr Pickles … Gluttony is a sin”LOL
    ‘Christians’ don’t know their buy-Bull, we need to keep reminding them.

  • Broga

    And still, as the centuries role past there has never been any convincing evidence that prayer gets results, that God exists or that priests can be trusted with children.

  • barriejohn

    Perhaps it’s Bob Hutton who should have done something useful with his life.

  • Angela_K

    “…Prime Minister’s Christian beliefs meant she had a “feeling for the underdog” and was “somebody who dislikes unfairness”. We know the religious are seriously deluded when they make such a preposterous claim about our current Prime Minister, her actions are certainly otherwise.
    As for super-loony Hutton, shouldn’t he and mates be out pestering a disinterested public at his own expense so he can gain brownie points to get into heaven – or is that Devon.

  • StephenJP

    Angela_K, you’re bang on about TM. This stuff about the underdog is just flannel. Neither her upbringing nor her education has brought her face to face with any underdogs to speak of. Nor has her experience in Government, which has mostly been in the Home Office, whose attitude to underdogs has for decades been to chuck them out or put them inside.
    When she came into office, she said something to the effect of her faith having given her the confidence to trust her “gut instinct ” on a range of issues. I found this even more scary than her record at the HO. As Carl Sagan said:
    “I try not to think with my gut. If I’m serious about understanding the world, thinking with anything besides my brain, as tempting as that might be, is likely to get me into trouble.”

  • 1859

    Different faith groups working together…?..to do what? Not hate each other? OK I can go with that. Agree that the sky demon they all worship is the same? OK I can go with that too. But the history of humans living side-by-side with each other who believe in different interpretations of the same religion, and the history of humans living together in so-called harmony with neighbours who hold completely different religious beliefs, is FRIGHTENING. Yes, there have been rare examples where it has worked, but it has never lasted. At some point it falls dramatically apart, fanatics find fertile ground for their ‘purist’ delusions and ultimately children’s heads are ripped off because they don’t belong to the correct religion. Whether the UK can sustain itself permanently as a multi-religious society remains to be seen. But the history of our species does not lend itself to optimism. I sincerely hope I am wrong.

  • barriejohn

    I’m certainly getting round to faith communities and to different parts of the country to tackle and to discuss the issues that really matter to people.
    The sort of twaddle that Welby and his ilk come out with. Do they really believe it? If you asked people about the things that “really matter” to them, “faith” would be right at the bottom of the list in the vast majority of cases!

  • Bubblecar

    “An ornate building may look nice, but it doesn’t save a single soul from Hell.”
    I think Bob should switch to an American country accent, to sound more soulful.
    “A fancy buildin’ may look mighty fine, but it don’t save a single soul from Hale.”

  • andym

    Don’t let Warsi off the hook. In her recent book, she argued that society could have been made more inclusive by prosecuting Salman Rushdie for blasphemy in 1989.

  • Jobrag

    An ornate building may look nice, but it doesn’t save a single soul from Hell. If the awe that the building inspires brings someone to the edges of faith it might well save a soul from hell, given the choice between a charlatan with a cheap hairpiece and a Chartes with soaring windows I know which path to salvation that I would choose. In the case of Chartes a couple of Pelforth Bruns in the nearest bar soon displaces any fanciful notions.

  • barriejohn

    Jobrag: Spot on!
    @andym: I’ve always been critical of Warsi’s religiosity and apparent naivety(?), but that particular accusation has been denied.

  • Johan

    Warsi is a fundie Islamist covert in kuffar woman attire. A rather unpleasant and untrustworthy individual.

  • David Anderson

    It was reported that after the last election when the Cons lost so many seats that the odious May “shed a tear”. I wanted to ask when she had ever shed a tear about anything or anybody else other than herself.

  • andym

    @ bj. Maryam Namazie, as well as Murray, seems to think she did, or at least something very close to it.

  • barriejohn

    @anrym: I did read that article earlier, but it’s not accusing her of saying what Murray alleges. Warsi’s “analysis” is really stupid, but it lets people off the hook if words are put in their mouths, or what they said is misrepresented.