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Birmingham hosts a ‘faith summit’. What was the point?

Birmingham hosts a ‘faith summit’. What was the point?

Yesterday, around 400 True Believers™ converged on the University of Birmingham for a multi-faith event organised by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, above.

St Theresa of May was ecstatic – and yesterday tweeted:

Some heartening responses to the the daffy Tory leader:

• Religion has no place in politics …
• What is a Faith Community? You are talking in riddles, woman.
• The Faith Communities are a load of troublemakers. They don’t deserve any special favours.
• Our society should be built on kindness and certainly science over faith. We don’t live in the dark ages anymore.

Street, an openly gay Conservative, is reported here as saying:

Faith in all its different forms is a force for good in our society. I want this conference to bring all faiths together as one to find ways of tackling those areas that affect and concern us all within the wider West Midlands community.

According to this report, it’s also about cash.

In the UK, Anglican Cathedrals alone add £0.25 billion to the economy and facilitate some 10 million educational and tourist visits. Locally, about a quarter of educational institutions (both public and private) are faith based and faith backed. Temples, mosques and religious meeting places represent a substantial real estate presence from where statistically significant levels of community service are organised and sustained.

The faith conference was one of the Mayor’s ten pledges that he promised to immediately undertake following his election in May this year.

As part of 10 pledges in my first 100 days, I promised to convene a Faith Conference. This will be a unique gathering, a chance to meet like-minded friends and provide a unique opportunity for the faith community to help shape my top priorities for beginning to work with communities right across the region. I am hoping you will be able to come and join the conversation.

I am convinced our faith communities, and faith-based charities form one of the greatest – and sometimes most under-appreciated – sources of strength, vitality and resilience in our area. The region’s faith communities are part of the West Midlands we call home, but are also one of the many ways that the West Midlands is connected to the world. I want to get to work straight away to listen, support and discuss how we can work together …

Inaugural meeting of the Mayor and Faith Steering Group

A 17-strong faith steering group was established shortly after Street took office.

Co-chairs of the group, appointed by Street, are Francis Davis, Professor of Communities and Public Policy at the University of Birmingham, and Amrick Singh Ubhi, chair of the Council of Sikh Gurdwaras in Birmingham and director of the Nishkam Centre, a Sikh faith-led organisation working for the well-being of all communities based in Handsworth, Birmingham.

Davis said:

This gathering is intended to be a conversation between hundreds of people of faith and the Mayor to help him shape his priorities and explore ways to unlock all the talents of the region to build a more inclusive economy.?

What’s important here is the Mayor has promised us he’ll follow up with a concrete action plan and that plan, in my view, has the potential to set a national and international standard for regions like ours.

Ubhi added:

The group has dedicated enormous time and energy to ensure the Mayor’s vision to include faith communities becomes a reality. The event is not the end-game but the beginning of a journey to enable all the stakeholders in the region to play their part in the realisation and delivery of the Renewal Plan.

Faith communities locally and regionally have vast social capital and a passion to serve, help and mobilise volunteers, this is an opportunity to participate in creating greater collaboration across all sectors.

19 responses to “Birmingham hosts a ‘faith summit’. What was the point?”

  1. sowa says:

    Sheesh, that’s a lot of empty talk from both establishment and participants.

    “Faith in all its different forms is a force for good in our society.” – that line would be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.

  2. L.Long says:

    Faith brings us together…WTF!?
    yes we all agree that my faith is right and yours is wrong!
    And we all agree that atheist are satan’s spawn! And science is satan’s words! Once we get the atheist killed off then I can start killing off the other religions as they are spawns of satan too!! Right! You are all in agreement!!! NO WHERE on earth have religions ever gathered in peace for a better world!

  3. 1859 says:

    However misguided this may be , I can’t bring myself to knock this initiative. Anything that can bring the different faith-heads together around a table is to be welcomed – even if it’s just to celebrate eating lamb chops. Why I think it is a positive step is simply because sitting next to someone who believes in a ‘different’ god, sitting next to a dozen people who all believe in a dozen ‘different’ gods, must surely make some of these faith-heads think that something is not right; that belief in so many gods cannot make any rational sense; that with the world in such a spectacular mess how can so many gods have got it so wrong? Doubt will have been sown – and that is the beginning of the end of all gods.

  4. Robster says:

    Faith, is a vacuum.

  5. 1859 says:

    @Robster: Indeed it is – and just look at what it sucks into it!

  6. sowa says:

    @1859: I don’t mind such meetings as well but giving it political significance and adding standard arsekissing is just laughable. Wow, handful of people sit around the table but it’s somehow oh-so-very “unique gathering”. Faith is the best platform you can think of when discussing local economy? Overall seems like a lot of political babble to me and religionists already have their “ecumenism” thing so they can gather together whenever they want, at least in theory. I would be wary of inviting religion when discussing official matters not tied to specific religion or cult. It offers no insight anyways. Of course you might think otherwise.

  7. Duuuhhhuuhuhhh says:

    Black is white.
    Pigs are reptiles.
    The earth is flat.
    Sphagetti grows on trees.
    The moon is made of mashed potato.
    Manchester United are baseball club.
    A constant force must be applied to a mass in order to keep it moving in a straight line a zero friction zero drag environment.
    Pavarotti was a castrati.
    The earth is at the centre of the solar system.
    Hitler was a pacifist.
    Faith is a force for good.

  8. barriejohn says:

    Is he doing this in his spare time, or are WE paying for his little ego trip? And who the hell is @andy4wm? Why can’t he be called by his proper name, as she presumably knows who he is? (“Who WAS that mysterious masked stranger?”)

  9. Arnold says:

    The pious always wheedle and wriggle their way into positions of influence from where to humbly do the work of god.

    But isn’t this effort a slap in the face for Andy Street’s god who at one time commanded that no other gods are to be pandered to? This renders Andy Street not just a fool but a untrustworthy heretic. He is Hell bound.

    And hasn’t the PM got better things to do?

  10. Brian Jordan says:

    Locally, about a quarter of educational institutions (both public and private) are faith based and faith backed. Temples, mosques and religious meeting places represent a substantial real estate presence from where statistically significant levels of community service are organised and sustained.
    Where to begin?
    The CofE does indeed control many schools – at our expense.
    Where does he think the money for all this “real estate” was scrounged (at best) from?
    “Statistically significant” just means “probably not random” – it could apply equally to a force for ill. Although I suppose in that case they’d say “correlation does not imply causation”

  11. Broga says:

    Bloody hell! St Theresa, absorbed in religious verbiage and spouting obvious fantasies, is the PM. What hope have we?

  12. barriejohn says:

    Now Gordon Brown is saying that he should have been more open about his “strong religious beliefs”. Gawd ‘elp us!

    https://www.christiantoday.com/article/gordon-brown-is-back-flawed-titan-with-a-moral-compass-opens-up-about-faith-in-politics/119880.htm

  13. Broga says:

    To describe many of our current politicians, whining their religious twaddle, as shifty would be to flatter them.

  14. Angela_K says:

    One thing these cults all share is common is their dislike, and in some cases hatred, of reason, logic, secularism and freethinkers. I wonder if their agenda included how to silence us and stop so many people abandoning religion.

  15. barriejohn says:

    I wonder if their agenda included how to silence us and stop so many people abandoning religion. (Angela_K)

    I bet it did, and I bet that that involved the expansion of “faith education” in the area.

  16. H3r3tic says:

    ” I want this conference to bring all faiths together as one to find ways of tackling those areas that affect and concern us all within the wider West Midlands community.” I must agree; might I suggest that the agenda for the first meeting include such problematic policy areas as FGM, the caste system, abortion rights and so on because, let’s face it religion has done so much good in these areas. FFS!

  17. Vanity Unfair says:

    The good news:
    This will be a unique gathering, a chance to meet like-minded friends and provide a unique opportunity for the faith community to help shape my top priorities…

    However, I wonder; how many of the participants realise that this is their only chance?

  18. Broga says:

    I suppose a “faith community” is made up of people described by that heart sink phrase “people of faith.” Faith in what? The Great Magician in the Sky who never performs?

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