The Benefice Cross of Ampfield, Chilworth and North Baddesely

TheseFiveThings: Grenfell tower, religious liberty worldwide, BRIN and more

#TheseFiveThings:24-17 This week, Kindness & love in public policy and regulation after the Grenfell Tower disaster. What’s up in changes in social hostility and government regulation across the world, how big churches engage with society in London and more things!

Dig into five things that we found interesting and perhaps helpful this week for all of us involved in telling the story of God.

Grenfell Tower fire Kindness & love in public policy

Kindness & love in public policy & regulation

Grenfell Tower, Fire +24 hours © Mazur 2017 for CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Grenfell Tower, Fire +24 hours © Mazur 2017 for CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Grenfell Tower fire caused appalling (and as yet unknown) numbers of deaths in London this week. When public enquiries have sat in past disasters of a similar scale public policy or regulation is almost always implicated as a key part of the root causes.

The problems with policy are not normally intentional. Rather the errors often come from judgements based only on things that are easy to measure and neglecting those like kindness, love, mercy, and the inherent value of life.

As Julia Unwin says in a recent blog on Kindness and Public Policy There are words that are rarely used in public policy, … Kindness. Loneliness. Love. Relationships. And there are other words that trip off the tongue… Outcomes. Frameworks. GVA. Infrastructure development…

Life is so more than can be swiftly measured. The response of the community and faith organisations (of all sorts) to the needs of the bereaved and homeless, shows exactly the value of those tricky words: kindness, love, relationships, life.

Social hostility and government restrictions on religion

Social hostility and government restrictions on religion

Religious liberty is a precious, and often surprising changeable thing. Pew Research Centre suggest it depends on both the effects of government restrictions and social hostility. It turns out that in the period 2007-15 the UK had relatively high levels of social hostility but among the lowest levels of government restriction. The data is inevitably a bit fuzzy, but it’s an interesting study (Link is to full report).

This study allows comparison of relative differences between the 25 countries with the biggest populations. So the differences in religious liberty between say, the UK (relatively social hostile) and China (less socially hostile, but much higher levels of government restriction) can be estimated.

Sourcing numbers on British Religion

BRIN (British Religion in Numbers)

Do you find it hard reliable answers to questions like: What outreach strategies work? or What parents welcome in a church toddler group? If so you aren’t alone. BRIN is a fantastic resource which links to as much of the published religious research in Britain as possible and often writes great blogs too. For a flavour, read their monthly round up for May which contains some gems on trust in the church, funerals, the valuable ‘Talking Jesus’ work, youth culture, the number of BME churchgoers and more.

The World Day of the Poor

New this year: The World Day of the Poor

The World Day of the Poor (19/11/17) has arrived on the Catholic schedule of festivals and memorials by the direction of Pope Francis. It’s fitting that this pope should create it, and surprising it didn’t exist already.

“Love has no alibi,” the pope said. “Whenever we set out to love as Jesus loved, we have to take the Lord as our example; especially when it comes to loving the poor.”

Citing the examples given in the Acts of the Apostles and in several of the letters in the New Testament, Francis says service of the poor was “one of the first signs of the entrance of the Christian community upon the world’s stage.”

In conclusion the pope said “The poor are not a problem: they are a resource from which to draw as we strive to accept and practise in our lives the essence of the Gospel.”

Megachurches in London: their social engagement

Megachurches in London: their social engagement

Although megachurches in London are galvanising civic engagement and working for real change in the communities they seek to serve. Birmingham University is running research how these churches engage in social matters.

A recent report - just eight pages makes some recommendations to help policy makers to understand how large churches can help their communities. One of their recommendations seems especially pertinent in the light of the resignation of Tim Farron MP this week.

Expressing or upholding a religious belief (or the absence of a belief) even with deep personal conviction must not in itself be viewed as a reason to exclude a person or organisation from public life.

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