The Rt Hon Don Foster MP, Minister for Integration, was welcomed on 2 July by a delegation of Bahá’ís, including individuals from Mr Foster’s Bath constituency, at the National Bahá’í Centre in London.
Mr Foster shared news of the impending launch of a government initiative, “Together in Service”, which will encourage interfaith social action. One of the aims of the initiative will be to consolidate the “A Year of Service” venture which was launched at the National Bahá’í Centre in February 2012 with Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
“The best way for a Hindu and a Muslim to understand each other better,” Mr Foster suggested, “is by sweeping the road or helping the homeless together.”
“You continue to distinguish yourselves in the professions, the arts and particularly in the vital areas of education and conflict resolution,” Mr. Foster told the Bahá’ís.
The Minister also discussed the need for the Government to assist UK faith communities in developing a “counter- narrative” regarding the role of religion in society – to challenge the often negative stereotypes of religion that appear in the media and demonstrate its potential for positive influence.
Mr Foster felt that the spontaneous response of all faith communities after the tragic murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, in Woolwich, in unequivocally condemning the attack and standing together in unity, was a watershed moment. The show of unity and support illustrated the cohesive and harmonising role that all faith communities can have. Mr Foster said he was “very proud” of this swift and united response.