CHURCHES in the UK are setting an example of how to combat hate crimes and racist abuse within their communities, after the divisive EU referendum vote.
The Community and Urban Affairs division of the Church of England highlighted some of these programmes in a new document, Hate-busters and Neighbour-lovers, published last week.
It lists statements, hashtags, welcome events, training, and worship as examples of ways in which dioceses across the country are promoting inclusion, and tackling racism in their communities.
The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, wrote in an open letter in June that, despite “some deep divisions to emerge in our nation” since the UK voted to leave the EU, the diocese would be “keeping the values of welcome, inclusion, and international friendship at the heart of our communities”.
The diocese of Manchester issued a statement condemning hate crimes, and encouraged Christians to show solidarity with other faiths using the hashtag #WeStandTogether, which is supported by the Lord Mayor of Manchester.
Churches Together in Merseyside has produced a guide, Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants: Welcoming the stranger, to address concerns surrounding the refugee crisis. A spokeswoman from Liverpool Cathedral, Nadine Daniel, said: “We have been working at encouraging the faith leaders and city council to work together as a very visible sign of unity.”
In the diocese of Worcester, members of the Interfaith Forum gave away safety-pins to demonstrate and spread their support of an anti-race campaign that was started in London after Brexit. Volunteers handed out more than 250 safety-pins outside St Andrew’s Methodist Church as a sign of solidarity with the victims of racist abuse.
The dioceses of Birmingham and Leeds, meanwhile, have hosted interfaith and welcome events to encourage conversation between ethnic groups. The diocese of Exeter has held round-table discussions with faith leaders to address some of the tensions in their communities.
And in London, St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace is offering training sessions in dialogue and facilitation, including an introduction to basic mediation techniques (see www.stethelburgas.org/training).
The C of E document also lists ongoing national inclusion initiatives, including Love Your Neighbour, Hope not Hate, and the Church Urban Fund’s Near Neighbours. It comes after the National Police Chiefs’ Council reported a sharp rise in hate crime, up from 63 incidents a week to 331 after the referendum result.
To read the document, and for advice on how to get involved, visit: www.churchofengland.org/media/