Who's My Neighbour - A New Model of InterFaith for the 21st Century

hoc intrfth mar17 sml
"Who is My Neighbour?"  A Multifaith Response to Critical Issues for the General Election

On 17th March 2015, Bob Blackman MP & Alok Sharma MP will be hostng a meeting to explore how effective interfaith activity can be facilitated and further developed in the future.


In the run up the General Election, the current national and international environment presents a number of challenges to community relations and harmony between different faiths. We support the positive work that the Inter Faith Network (IFN) has done, and wish also to explore with colleagues of many different faiths the belief that it could be done even better.

The Church of England House of Bishops recently issued a pastoral letter, "Who is My Neighbour?", addressing questions about the relationship between religion and political power, and expressed concerns about the concentration of power in the hands of the few. It called for a return to "the Big Society" and sought more political power to be given to local Church and faith community leaders. Over recent years, both before and since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, taxpayer-funded interfaith initiatives such as the Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom and "Near Neighbours", and the promotion of Muslim and other faith community leadership at public expense, have been presented as a key solutions to the problems of violent and non-violent extremism in Britain.

There has been a debate about the rightness and effectiveness of these initiatives, and the best way for Britain to engage and deal with the challenges posed by world events and domestic concerns relating to faith communities, such as around pluralism, integration or extremism. This takes place against the backdrop both in the UK, Europe and beyond, of violent terrorist incidents, concerns about segregated communities and freedom to criticise religion.

We therefore ask for your participation, and invite you to bring your ideas and your ears to an "ideas session" about how the challenges our changing world presents can best be met. This invitation is open to Parliamentarians, IFN officers and IFN Executive Committee members, Church and faith leaders, experts in the field and ordinary members of the public.

We are very open to proposals for speakers and suggestions about how this important subject should be addressed, and we look forward to exchanging ideas in an open and optimistic discussion. Please reply to this email address to register for the event, and thank you for your contribution to this important pre-election debate.

I would like to provide you with specific details about the venue of our event next week and also, by this email, confirm that you are registered for the event.

Change of Venue

The event, which was initially going to be held in the Parliament, had to be changed at the last minute due to the need for Parliamentary business to be carried out in the the room that had been already booked by two Members of Parliament. This was unfortunate, but considering we are close to the dissolution of the Parliament at the end of this month and that election time is drawing close, it is understandable that the Parliament's business has priority.

Fortunately we have found an excellent location close by - 
The Council Room
Church House
Church of England Headquarters
Dean's Yard
London SW1P 3NZ

Access to this venue is via the Porter's Lodge of Westminster Abbey. Go to the Porter's Lodge at the gate of Westminster Abbey and inform the Porter that you are attending a meeting at Church House. The main entrance is directly across Dean's Yard. Closest tube is Westminster.

Start of Event

The meeting will begin promptly at 2pm and we ask that you arrive by 1.30pm to be certain you find the place and can be seated.

Speakers Panel

The speakers for the event are as follows:

Rabbi Reuben Livingstone, Chair of Imams and Rabbis Council for the United Kingdom and Senior Jewish Chaplain to HM Forces


Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich
Damian Thompson, The Spectator and Catholic Herald
Judy Keiner, Adloyada
Sheikh Professor Mohamed Elsharkawy, Chair of the Christian Muslim Council
Brendan O'Neill, Spiked Online and The Spectator
Pt Satish K Sharma, Secretary of the National Council of Hindu Temples

There will be plenty of opportunity for questions to the panel and I would like to remind you that Bishop Graham James asked us to distribute the Letter from the Bishops in advance. You can find this here:

Looking forward to seeing you next Tuesday 17th March.

Yours sincerely,
Satish K Sharma, Secretary of the National Council of Hindu Temples [IFN Member Body]
Danny Diskin, Chair of the Interfaith Alliance UK [IFN Member Body]
Martin Weightman, Director All Faiths Network.

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