The Vision for Edinburgh’s Faith Communities in the Future Scotland…
After the Referendum
In September, a referendum will be held to decide Scotland’s future. After discussion at Edinburgh’s 2014 Religious Leader’s Conference, the Faith Communities of Edinburgh expressed an interest in participating in a special discussion event focusing on the future of Scotland – regardless of the outcome of the referendum.
On Sunday the 2nd of March, representatives of the Faith Communities of Edinburgh gathered at Edinburgh City Council Chambers to discuss topics pertinent to them, in light of the upcoming vote. Whether Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom, or becomes an independent country is yet to be decided, but we hope the below ideas go some way in giving voice to the religious communities of the capital, and their unique perspectives on the discussion.
(members of Edinburgh’s Sikh, Hindu and Christian communities participate in the afternoon’s discussion)
Summarised Notes from Table Discussions
Participants at EIFA ‘After the Referendum’ event were grouped around 5 separate tables. Over the course of the day attendees tackled two main questions. Those questions were ‘what is our [Edinburgh’s Faith Communities] vision for the place of faith communities in Scotland beyond the referendum?’ and ‘what changes are necessary to make our vision a reality?’ The answers, which were presented by a representative of each table, focussed on political change, change within Faith communities and change within wider society. Overleaf are summarised notes from each groups’ presentation notes.
A Scotland where people care for each other;
- Political legislative changes – local democracy, sharing resources (councils).
- Changes within wider society – welcome immigrants, written constitution, equal distribution of wealth.
- Changes within faith communities – more inclusive of minority communities.
- Is there a place for a ‘National Church’ in Scotland?
- Let’s all work together – different faith communities and secular need to work together.
- Strong anti-religious feeling but values can unite people of faith and non-faith.
- Faiths need to resolve internal disputes to get along with others.
- We learn about ourselves through engaging with others.
- Faiths should unite on common ground rather than fighting own corner.
- Stories to tell in each community – social justice, food-banks, poverty etc.
“In relation to Faith communities our vision is of a Scotland where people feel valued for who they are, given the opportunities and confidence to offer the riches of their own traditions for the good of all with grass roots access to decision makers, building a Scotland where power is accountable and community sustainable.
Making this vision a reality should be inclusive of policies that embed a sustainable agenda. Faith communities should also become more co-operative to achieve mutual goals.”
“Our vision is – Unity in Diversity. Where focus is not on difference but on what we have in common. See the individual – not colour, creed, belief, culture, sexual orientation, gender etc. Where every child can read and write and have her/his individuality respected and be properly nourished.
This vision is inclusive of:
- Environmental issues – Green energy, solar panels etc.
- Faith communities need to take more responsibility on social matters.
- Funding for college/university places for those from poor backgrounds.
- Funding for apprenticeships for youth.
- Restructuring of school areas so that the difference between ‘good’ and ‘poor’ schools is not so great.
- Challenging of “class distinction”.
- Removal of alcohol advertising, upgrade hard drink prices.
Improve community centres with adequate sports facilities and varied hobbies encouraging general
‘healthy living’ (sport, food, lifestyle).
- Tax Incentives / John Lewis approach.
- Reform society to ensure social justice and social responsibility.
- Closer look at trading standards and cost cutting which effects consumers and employers.
- Affordable housing and land reform, local farming and agriculture.
- Numeracy, literacy, moral education, school reform.
Changes in Wider Society
- Profit Sharing
- Consumers to act responsibly buying from ethical companies. ‘Buy local, think global’.
- Media responsibility – informed journalism.
Changes within Faith Communities
- More focus on fighting poverty together.
- A Scotland where justice, moral education and compassion are the responsibility of all communities to integrate to create a sustainable society
Our vision is of a Scotland where everyone is treated with respect and valued for their contribution to society. Less adversarial politics, should rather work for common goals. Maximum and minimum wages to reduce the income gap. Faith communities to speak and act together. Increase turnout at elections.
Thanks to all who came along and contributed to the discussion!