First national conference on the media and a multi-faith society

The Methodist Church was well represented in the first nationalconference on the media and a multi faith society, held yesterdayin 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 positiveenergy of the UK's diverse faiths can be represented in the mediaso as to build a spirit of co-operation, respect andunderstanding.


Broadcaster Roger Bolton counselled that the media in an interfaith society must "examine its own prejudices, combat ignorance,and develop an understanding of difference between faiths". HomeOffice Minister Fiona MacTaggart MP expressed hope for "aBritishness which is comfortable with diversity." She highlightedthat the media can make a real difference to people's perceptionsabout their communities.


The Methodist Church believes that our multi-ethnic society is agift from God, an expression of the sort of society God wants us toestablish, and that opportunities must be given to Methodists tolearn about the beliefs and practices of people of otherfaiths.


Dr Elizabeth J Harris, Secretary for Inter Faith Relations atThe Methodist Church, said: "Many of the stories coming out of theinter faith relations world in Britain contain good news. They areabout growing understanding and greater co-operation. Thesestories, however, are not of the kind the media seizes upon.Therefore, inter faith groups/inter faith initiatives may need toreview their media strategies to catch the moment a little morethan they sometimes do, and remember that most media look forpeople stories rather than reports or impersonal descriptions ofissues."


Dr Harris praised The Muslim Council of Great Britain for theirtimely media intervention this week: "I commend the Muslim Councilof Britain for taking the step they have done [sending letters ofappeal to every mosque in the country]. I also want to urge allMethodists not to judge their Muslim neighbours by the minority ofMuslims who have extremist views. Most British Muslims want tocontribute to the good of the country, as full citizens. In thissituation, it is important that Methodists take every opportunityto learn about Islam and to offer the hand of friendship toMuslims."

A Methodist working party are in the last stages of forming newguidelines on the principles and practice of relationships withpeople and communities of other faiths. The new resource willcomplement The Life WeShare and should be outin time for the Methodist Conference of 2004. Focusing on questionsthat are frequently asked about inter faith relations, it willoffer 'Ways Forward' for individuals and groups.

Further Inter Faith Information