As we begin another year it’s clear to see why the work we do with our partners is needed. As the film ‘Denial’ is released, reminding us of the need to challenge the damaging rhetoric of Holocaust deniers, the inflammatory rhetoric and policy of President Donald Trump is working against efforts to build strong relations between communities – in particular, the discriminatory decision to stop people entering the United States from seven Muslim majority countries.
In the debate surrounding Trump’s travel ban, we hear echoes of the fears about immigration that played out in our own divisive EU referendum. While it is important to address these fears, we must do so in a way that is just, and that does not discriminate against different faiths, beliefs and identities. We need to continue to create spaces where we can engage with challenges from different perspectives. As divisions sharpen and anger rises, this kind of engagement becomes more difficult and important, posing a real challenge to those of us who believe in the power of dialogue.
Last week staff at 3FF got together to flesh out plans for the coming year. Our reflection on the context we are living in served to strengthen our commitment to our vision of a connected and supportive society where people of different faiths, beliefs and identities have productive and lasting relations; to working with the Schools Linking Network to connect different faith schools with one another; to our new programme ‘Amplify’ with Westminster Academy that provides a platform for 16-18 year olds to express their faiths, beliefs and politics; to the 10th anniversary of our ParliaMentors leadership programme working with emerging student leaders and MPs from all faiths and beliefs; to our aim to establish an interfaith movement for responsible media; to the power of music and the arts to handle difficult conversations amongst those of different faiths, beliefs and identities; and to an even greater celebration of difference during the Interfaith Summit this coming November.
As we start another year, we at 3FF are reminded that the task of finding new ways of opening-up dialogue, of collaborating, of finding solutions to the ongoing societal challenges that face us all, is a marathon not a sprint. We are more determined than ever and look forward to working with our partners, donors, and political leaders to have the hard conversations that will illuminate a future that belongs to people of all beliefs.