The government's consultation to determine how best to engage with faith groups in England is about to end.
Forgive me for being slightly disheartened by the first question: "are faith groups, places of worship and people of faith a force for good in society?" If people of faith are to be measured by such a low bar then I wonder who is really listening?
The 2015 Cinnamon Network Faith Action Audit Report which concluded that, in monetary terms, the value of time given by members of faith groups in the UK is worth £3bn per annum. In human terms, the research confirmed 47 million times a year, someone is being helped by one of 2m volunteers or 125,000 staff from faith groups. The Trussell Trust, the leading food bank charity founded on Christian principles, is forecast to give out 6 food parcels a minute this winter and gave out 1.9m food parcels last year alone. Would Twitter crash if every time a person of faith did a good deed and tweeted about it? The crucial point is we don't do this for the likes - we do this for love!
I also agree this is only part of the value created in communities and society by people volunteering. However, too often the public debate about faith is really about institutions - such as the church. All such institutions are fallible and fall short, but this does not deny the innate good that people of faith bring to society.
So, my request is that government does not cherry-pick - it should not ask faith groups to bring all their positive contributions to society but ask them to leave their faith at the door - it is part of who we are. If the Government can get this right then it will more likely succeed with its serious conversation about charities and volunteering started with the Kruger Report.
“Are faith groups, places of worship and people of faith a force for good in society?”