We live in a multi-faith, multi-racial, multi-ideological place where all of us not only have our own agenda, we are encouraged to think for ourselves in order to develop, and sadly in some cases just survive in this old, densely populated and super diverse island. Within this Kingdom ruled by a Queen we have 63.23 million people, and around 50 million adults, many of whom have faith of some kind, but may also have a problem as to where to place it with absolute confidence… and here are a few of the faith questions people ask themselves today…
- Can I pray in a church, mosque or a synagogue that reckons women are the inferior sex?
- Why do certain religions refuse to accept love between two people of the same sex when nature and nurture do this naturally as well as otherwise?
- Do I believe that people of certain faiths are not entitled to go to heaven?
- Do I believe that God is an elderly geezer with a beard who sits in judgment on a cloud?
And so we pose these questions, knowing that the harmony of life, love, thought, deed and nature are all proof of something glorious that doesn’t have anything to do with such issues. It’s simply man that asks such questions. The real issues of faith are man-made and are based on opinions and ideas that have nothing to do with the truth and the reality of the world we live in. We just make our lives difficult by asking such questions, and come up with a host of very silly answers.
In the 2003 census 2.1% of the population of Brighton declared their religion to be Jedi (as in Knight) and who can blame them? Being asked to declare ones faith is not always as easy as it sounds. When I get asked what my religion is I put ‘Interfaith’ because I believe that everyone’s faith position works, just as every flower in the world’s garden has the right to be different, even though there may be apparent similarities when we are all clumped together.
It is this acceptance of the glory and diversity in the garden that underlies the need for interfaith ministers. Our society desperately needs priests that see the beauty and validity of many different faiths, people, ideas and creeds. Our society needs ministers that can marry Jews to Muslims – carry out a funeral for a Christian that has Buddhist, atheist and pagan children, and still make the ceremony inclusive. A garden of diverse beauty needs a gardener that appreciates colour, welcomes wild flowers and accepts that the sludge at the bottom of the pond is a perfect and perfectly natural phenomenon. This is why we need interfaith ministers.