#BlackLivesMatter - Reflections from the Board of IFN at its meeting on 9 June 2020
Thousands have protested in the USA in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May as well as in response to other deaths and acts of brutality and to racism today and across recent centuries. The UK has also seen a number of such protests.
Many of the Inter Faith Network’s member faith communities, inter faith organisations and educational and academic bodies have made statements or held discussions about the issue of racism and how to address it.
At the turn of the Millennium, IFN supported the faith communities of the UK in the development of an Act of Commitment which was said as part of the official event at the Houses of Parliament. That Act of Commitment opens with words said by the faith community representatives.
In a world scarred by the evils of war,
racism, injustice and poverty,
we offer this joint Act of Commitment as we
look to our shared future.
When the Act is used – as it has been thousands of times since it was first said, by organisations in the UK and in other countries – those opening words are sometimes dropped or others substituted. The faith community leaders 20 years ago felt strongly the need for them and the words have particular resonance at this time.
The Act of Commitment continues:
We commit ourselves,
as people of many faiths,
to work together
for the common good,
uniting to build a better society,
grounded in values and ideals we share:
a sense of right and wrong,
learning, wisdom and love of truth,
care and compassion,
justice and peace,
respect for one another,
for the earth and its creatures.
We commit ourselves,
in a spirit of friendship and co-operation,
to work together
alongside all who share our values and ideals,
to help bring about a better world
now and for generations to come.
Faith communities are diverse and yet there are profound values that they share. Each has fundamental teachings that can empower action for justice and peace. These are a basis for standing up to oppression; they are foundation blocks for a just society and for a world where people are united in their common humanity.
There have been – and are - times when teachings in faith traditions have been used in ways that encourage or justify racism, with people acting in racist ways or complicit in racism. Understanding and responding to past episodes and periods in history and to incidents and structural racism in the present is part of an ongoing journey both for communities and their individual members.
We know that faith communities are reflecting at this time on how best they can draw on the teachings and fundamental values in their traditions to support education and action for change towards a more equal and mutually respecting society unscarred by racism.
We hope that the coming months will see faith and inter faith conversations and projects that can help make a long term difference to attitudes in our society.
At this time of COVID-19, so much of our encounter is ‘virtual’ but let us find ways to reach out and create greater understanding and build on commonalities. Later this month it will be again the Great Get Together. That commemorates the life of the late Jo Cox MP by encouraging people across the UK to focus on the powerful message “We have more in common than that which divides us”.
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- The Inter Faith Network for the UK www.interfaith.org.uk was founded in 1987 to advance public knowledge and mutual understanding of the teachings, traditions and practices of the different faith communities in Britain and to promote good relations between people of different faiths in this country. It works with its member bodies and others to carry out these aims.
- Member bodies of the Inter Faith Network include: national faith community representative bodies; national, regional and local inter faith bodies; and academic institutions and educational bodies concerned with inter faith issues. A list of member bodies can be found at www.interfaith.org.uk/members.
- Statements, messages and reflections from IFN member bodies on this topic have been collected at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/ifn-member-responses-to-killing-of-george-floyd-subsequent-events-and-racial-injustice and the list is being updated regularly.
- More background about the Act of Commitment quoted above can be found at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/resources/act-of-commitment