The Government-sponsored Bloom Review has called for the introduction of an Independent Faith Champion to support the Government on interfaith and intrafaith matters, including responsibility for implementing the report’s recommendations. Humanists UK expressed alarm at this proposal, which among its impacts, would afford further special treatment for religions and religious groups.
The report recommends the introduction of an Independent Faith Champion role to support the Faith Minister and the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief. As well the proposed role being restrictively titled to prioritise faith, it signals that the post would ‘champion’ religion in the state. The position would carry out a convening role between faith communities, government, and the implementation of public policy, affording further special privilege and access over other civil society groups. This is despite the majority of the population being non-religious and the disproportionate role that religion already plays in the state.
The role is proposed to oversee efforts to improve ‘faith’ literacy within government and wider public services. If carried out as currently set out in the review, training would be exclusively faith-focused – representing a missed opportunity to better inform public officials about the rich diversity of religions and non-religious outlooks in today’s society.
The report suggests that the ‘well-resourced’ Independent Faith Champion role could draw its office from the current Faith and Belief team in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities. Humanists UK is concerned that the restructure could undermine or narrow the remit of that team which currently covers ‘religion or belief’ and therefore also has a civil servant responsible for humanism.
Humanists UK’s Public Affairs Manager Karen Wright commented:
‘We’re deeply concerned about the extent to which the Bloom review prioritises religion and religious groups. This recommendation makes it abundantly clear that further special treatment is being sought in a society that already overlooks and disadvantages the non-religious.
‘The Government should strive to afford equal treatment for all regardless of religion or belief instead of following recommendations which will only promote special treatment for religions.’
For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Public Affairs Manager Karen Wright at email@example.com or phone 07534 248 596.
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Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.