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Covid-19: National Recovery

Volume 679: debated on Thursday 10 September 2020

What steps the Church of England is taking to support national recovery from the covid-19 outbreak. (905863)

Church schools have taken a lead in getting children back to school, and many of the Church of England’s 33,000 social action projects have adapted and expanded—for example, in the provision of food, especially to those who are vulnerable and shielding. In my hon. Friend’s diocese of Salisbury, £1.27 million has been spent on the Renewing Hope project to support ministry and mission in rural communities, and Salisbury cathedral is one of 12 to benefit from the £900,000 the commissioners have spent supporting heritage crafts.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. It is incredibly encouraging to hear all of that. Does he agree with me that faith communities, the Church and other faith groups have a huge contribution to make to national recovery and to the future of our society, but that to realise this potential we need public servants at all levels of national and local government and in public services to overcome certain prejudices or suspicions they have about working with faith groups, and what does he think the Government can do to encourage this?

I am pleased that my hon. Friend has raised this point, because he is absolutely right. The Government need to combat religious illiteracy by making the case that the public square should never be purely secular, as secular humanism is itself a belief system and such an approach would be illiberal.