01 April 2004
First national conference on the media and a multi-faith society
The Methodist Church was well represented in the first national conference on the media and a multi faith society, held yesterday in London.
Delegates from faith communities, including Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Zoroastrian, gathered together with the UK's media to look at how the positive energy of the UK's diverse faiths can be represented in the media so as to build a spirit of co-operation, respect and understanding.
Broadcaster Roger Bolton counselled that the media in an inter faith society must "examine its own prejudices, combat ignorance, and develop an understanding of difference between faiths". Home Office Minister Fiona MacTaggart MP expressed hope for "a Britishness which is comfortable with diversity." She highlighted that the media can make a real difference to people's perceptions about their communities.
The Methodist Church believes that our multi-ethnic society is a gift from God, an expression of the sort of society God wants us to establish, and that opportunities must be given to Methodists to learn about the beliefs and practices of people of other faiths.
Dr Elizabeth J Harris, Secretary for Inter Faith Relations at The Methodist Church, said: "Many of the stories coming out of the inter faith relations world in Britain contain good news. They are about growing understanding and greater co-operation. These stories, however, are not of the kind the media seizes upon. Therefore, inter faith groups/inter faith initiatives may need to review their media strategies to catch the moment a little more than they sometimes do, and remember that most media look for people stories rather than reports or impersonal descriptions of issues."
Dr Harris praised The Muslim Council of Great Britain for their
timely media intervention this week: "I commend the Muslim Council
of Britain for taking the step they have done [sending letters of
appeal to every mosque in the country]. I also want to urge all
Methodists not to judge their Muslim neighbours by the minority of
Muslims who have extremist views. Most British Muslims want to
contribute to the good of the country, as full citizens. In this
situation, it is important that Methodists take every opportunity
to learn about Islam and to offer the hand of friendship to
A Methodist working party are in the last stages of forming new guidelines on the principles and practice of relationships with people and communities of other faiths. The new resource will complement The Life We Share and should be out in time for the Methodist Conference of 2004. Focusing on questions that are frequently asked about inter faith relations, it will offer 'Ways Forward' for individuals and groups.
Further Inter Faith Information