Applies to England
1. Topic of call for evidence
This call for evidence seeks views from the public, and from experts in the field, on the government’s engagement with faith organisations; these views will help underpin this review’s findings and recommendations.
2. Scope of call for evidence
This call for evidence relates to England only.
Colin Bloom has been appointed as the Faith Engagement Adviser at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to lead a review into how best the government should engage with faith groups in England.
The last few months have been very challenging for places of worship and people of faith. The significant restrictions that have been put in place to control the spread of the virus have limited people’s ability to worship, practice and celebrate their faith as they normally would.
This review began before the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is timely as the recommendations may well come to strengthen how government engages with faith groups during the COVID-19 recovery phase and beyond.
The call for evidence will pose a series of questions around how those of all faiths, or none, perceive the government’s engagement with faith organisations. Because the review is specifically about faith and religion, priority will be given to responses that fit within those parameters. However, space is given for respondents to share their views in a way that they feel is appropriate.
Colin Bloom will make recommendations to the Communities Secretary as part of his review.
3. Introduction and background
On 10 October 2019, the government announced that Colin Bloom had been appointed as the Faith Engagement Adviser at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
As Faith Engagement Adviser, Colin is leading a review into how best the government should engage with faith groups in England. He will make recommendations to the Communities Secretary about how the government can best celebrate and support the contribution of faith groups, break down barriers and promote acceptance between faiths, and promote shared values while tackling cultures and practices that are harmful.
Colin Bloom’s initial proposal is to structure the review around 4 main sections:
- the first section asks the question, “Are faith groups, places of worship and people of faith a force for good in society?”
- the second section explores the extent to which government and its agencies have sufficient faith literacy and considers the partnership between faith groups and the State
- the third section looks at some aspects where harm might be caused through religious or faith-based practices and a review of the government’s role in tackling them
- the fourth and final section will be a set of recommendations for the government to consider and respond to
The call for evidence will pose a series of questions around how those of all faiths, or none, perceive the government’s engagement with faith groups. Because the review is specifically about faith and religion, priority will be given to responses that fit within those parameters. However, space is given for respondents to share their views in a way that they feel is appropriate.
Respondents should feel free to make use of a range of sources, reports, case studies, surveys or even personal anecdotes to underpin their points where a general response is requested.
If you require any support, or find any questions within the call for evidence upsetting please consider contacting a support helpline:
- Samaritans: 116 123
- CALM for men 5pm to midnight: 0800 58 58 58
- Papyrus 9am to midnight: 0800 068 41 41 or text 07860 039967
- Childline: 0800 1111
- Forced Marriage Unit: 020 7008 0151
4. How to respond
Responses to this call for evidence were submitted via an online form which was available for 4 weeks from 13 November until 11 December 2020. The questions are listed below:
Section 1: Consent
- By proceeding with this call for evidence I am confirming that I have read the privacy notice about how my data will be used.
Section 2: About you
2. Do you consider yourself to have a Faith or Religion?
3. Do you consider yourself to have a Belief?
4. Which of the following best describes you?
Other belief or worldview
Don’t want to say
5. If you identify as a person of faith which Denomination or group might best describe you?
For example: Anglican, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal (Christian), Sunni, Shi’ah, Ahmadiyya (Muslim), Amritdhari, Nihang, Ramgarhia (Sikh), Orthodox, Sephardi, Masorti (Jewish) or Vaishnava, Shaivite, Shaktist (Hindu)
Section 3: Faith impact
6. In your opinion, how positive is faith and religion for society? 0-10 [Extremely Negative – Extremely Positive]
7. Please expand
8. During the COVID-19 pandemic are you aware of a faith organisation or religious community which has supported your neighbourhood through running a community project or offering support? Yes/no/don’t know
9. Please expand
10. Before the COVID-19 pandemic were you aware of a faith organisation or religious community having made a positive contribution to your neighbourhood? Yes/no/don’t know
11. Please expand
Section 4: Government engagement with people of faith
12. Do you feel government engages meaningfully with people of faith? Please rate from: 1 not at all, and 10 extremely well
13. Do you think government understands people of faith? Please rate from: 1 not at all, and 10 extremely well
14. Looking at your previous two answers, please expand on why you think this?
15. Could the Charity Commission do more to support registered faith charities? Yes/no/don’t know
16. How could the Charity Commission do more to support registered Faith Charities? Please do not name any specific faith charities in your response. If you consent, there will be later opportunities to provide this information.
17. Do you believe your local council and your local public services like schools, the NHS and your emergency services look for and take opportunities to create productive partnerships with local faith organisations?
18. Please expand
Section 5: Freedom of religion or belief
Article 18 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance’.
This review will not be looking at the very serious issues of FGM, antisemitism or anti-Muslim hatred as these are being considered elsewhere in Government. However, this review will be looking at other areas of concern such as, but not limited to, forced marriages, religious nationalism, financial exploitation and religious-based violence.
19. Do you feel that freedom of religion or belief is under threat in the UK today? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say
20. Please Expand.
21. Have you ever felt that your freedom to express your faith, religion or belief was under threat?
Please do not include any accusations or allegations of illegal activity against named individuals. Should you need to report a crime please do so through the appropriate channels.
22. What more can government do to ensure all people have Freedom of Religion or Belief?
23. Are there areas of religious or faith-based practice which cause you serious concern? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say
24. Please expand
25. Have you ever felt coerced by members of your own religious community into doing something against your wishes? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say/not applicable
26. Please expand
27. Is there anything about your faith community that you want to see faith leaders or the government tackle? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say/don’t know/not applicable
28. Please expand
Please do not include any accusations or allegations of illegal activity against named individuals. This is not a platform to report crime, should you need to report a crime please do so through the appropriate channels
Section 6: Faith Leaders
29. Do you hold currently, or have you held a formal position as a faith leader within a place of worship or a faith-based charity? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say/not applicable If no, branched to next section
30. Please expand
Please do not name your place of worship, organisation or charity, or any other members of staff within that place of worship. If you consent, there will be an opportunity later.
31. In your opinion does the government engage with the right religious and faith leaders? Yes/no/don’t know
32. Please expand
Section 7: Government’s faith literacy
Faith Literacy is a term to describe the ability to understand and communicate effectively with religion or faith, religious or faith issues and people of faith.
33. Do you feel confident that local and national government and public servants have a good understanding of different faiths, faith practices and issues? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say
34. Please expand
35. In your personal experience do you feel the emergency services (police, fire brigade) and public health care professionals (e.g. GPs) have a good understanding and respect for different and all faiths? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say
36. Please Expand
37. Do you feel confident that elected members in public office (MPs, Ministers, Local Councillors), have a good understanding of different faiths and faith practices and issues concerning people of faith? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say
38. Please Expand
39. In your opinion, how could government and public servants improve on their faith literacy?
Section 8: Education
40. More than a third of all state funded schools and academies are faith-based. Do you think that faith-based schools are good for society? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say
41. Please expand
Please do not reference any children by name
42. Do you believe that Religious and Belief Education (often referred to as RE) is comprehensive enough within the English education curriculum to provide a good understanding of different faiths and beliefs? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say
43. Please expand Please do not reference any children by name.
44. Do you think that faith-based or religious practices in schools have a positive impact on a child’s education? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say
45. Please Expand Please do not reference any children by name.
46. Do you think that secular or non-religious practices in schools have a positive impact on a child’s education? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say
47. Please expand Please do not reference any children by name.
Section 9: Military service chaplaincy
48. Do you currently, or have you ever served within the British military? Yes/no/prefer not to say
No – branched to next section.
49. Did you feel that the faith and belief of yourself and/or your colleagues was respected and valued? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say
50. Please expand
51. What, if any, was your experience with the military chaplaincy?
52. Do you feel that all faiths are people of faith are treated equally in the British military? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say
53. Please Expand
Section 10: Prison chaplaincy
54. Do you have any personal or professional experience of the criminal justice system? Yes/no/prefer not to say
55. Do you feel that the faith or belief of prisoners, visitors and professionals is respected? Yes/no/don’t know/prefer not to say
56. Overall, how would you rate the Prison Chaplaincy service?
Please rate from: 1 Extremely Negative, and 10 extremely Positive
57. Overall, how well is the Prison Chaplaincy service managed?
Please rate from: 1 Extremely Negative, and 10 extremely Positive
Section 11: Key definitions
The review is still being researched, but in the work done to date by Colin Bloom it has become apparent that clearer or agreed definitions for the terms ‘Religion’, ‘Faith’ and ‘Belief’ could be helpful. Colin has identified that these terms are often used, interchangeably and sometimes used confusingly by Government, public services and faith leaders. He recognises that the terms mean different things to different people, and whilst there are similarities and aspects of the terms that overlap, there are important distinctions between them that could be better understood. It is therefore important for the review to be clear and consistent on the use of these terms.
Colin Bloom’s proposed definitions:
Religion is a particular and organised system of faith and worship in a supreme being or entity or supreme beings or entities. Someone can be born into a religious tradition, they can follow a religion, belong to a religion and they can even be religious in their lifestyle choices. Typically, religions will have places of worship such as Churches, Temples, Mosques and Synagogues, and will often have a national and international hierarchy. In almost every case, the world’s major religions will have a creed, Holy Scriptures and other ancient texts.
Belief is something one accepts as true or real; a genuinely held belief is more than just an opinion. Belief can be sincerely held, and it can often have a profound impact on someone’s lifestyle. A belief can attain a level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance to be worthy of respect in a democratic society and can be compatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others. Belief does not have to be rooted in the supernatural. A belief can be a worldview like atheism or humanism, but importantly it can also be within a faith or a religion.
Faith is a subset of belief, it is a committed certainty in something based on spiritual conviction and divine truths, often these can be perceived by others to be beyond the normal limits of perception or of logical proof. Someone can have a faith without having a religious lifestyle, they may believe in a God or Gods, a “higher power” or “life after death” they may be a “spiritual” person. The important aspect is that they believe with conviction in something which is supernatural.
58. Do you agree with the proposed definitions of religion, belief and faith as set out above?
Tick box table; rows: religion, belief, faith, and columns: completely disagree, broadly disagree, neither agree nor disagree, broadly agree, completely agree
59. Please expand on the suggested definition for religion
60. Please expand on the suggested definition for belief
61. Please expand on the suggested definition for faith
Section 12: Final thoughts
62. If you would like to add any further thoughts not already covered within this call for evidence, please do so here:
Section 13: Contact information
If you are happy to be contacted as a follow up from your responses given in this form, please provide your contact information below:
63. Are you happy to be contacted regarding your provided answers within this call for evidence? Yes/No
64. Full name
65. Email address
66. Daytime phone number
5. About this consultation
This consultation document and consultation process have been planned to adhere to the Consultation Principles issued by the Cabinet Office.
Representative groups are asked to give a summary of the people and organisations they represent, and where relevant who else they have consulted in reaching their conclusions when they respond.
Information provided in response to this consultation, including personal data, may be published or disclosed in accordance with the access to information regimes (these are primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the Data Protection Act 2018, the UK General Data Protection Regulation, and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004).
If you want the information that you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that, as a public authority, the Department is bound by the Freedom of Information Act and may therefore be obliged to disclose all or some of the information you provide. In view of this it would be helpful if you could explain to us why you regard the information you have provided as confidential. If we receive a request for disclosure of the information we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as binding on the Department.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will process your personal data in accordance with the law. A full privacy notice is included below.
Individual responses will not be acknowledged unless specifically requested.
Your opinions are valuable to us. Thank you for taking the time to read this document and respond. Are you satisfied that this consultation has followed the Consultation Principles? If not or you have any other observations about how we can improve the process please contact us via the complaints procedure.
This call for evidence relates to England
Body/bodies responsible for the consultation
The Faith Team within the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)
This consultation will last for 4 weeks from 13 November until 11 December 2020.
For any enquiries about this consultation please contact FIC.Engagement@communities.gov.uk
Please do not include any accusations or allegations of illegal activity against individuals, this is not a platform to report crime. Should you need to report a crime please do so through the appropriate channels.
6. Privacy notice
The following is to explain your rights and give you the information you are entitled to under the UK General Data Protection Regulation 2016 and the Data Protection Act 2018.
6.1 The identity and contact details of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), now the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and our Data Protection Officer
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) is the data controller. The Data Protection Officer can be contacted at email@example.com
6.2 Why we are collecting the data
Your personal data will be collected (where provided) as part of the call for evidence for the Faith Engagement Review, which is being undertaken to understand how government should engage with Faith groups in England.
The review will look into how the government should engage with faith groups in England. It will make recommendations to the Communities Secretary about how the government can support the contribution of faith groups, promote acceptance between faiths, and promote shared values while tackling cultures and practices that are harmful. Collecting views from the public, and from experts in the subject, will help to achieve the review to meet these aims.
Your personal data is being collected (where provided) as part of this call for evidence, so that we can contact you regarding matters covered in your responses, and for statistical purposes.
The University of Birmingham will be acting as a data processor to support the analysis and interpretation of the dataset emerging from the call for evidence on behalf of the review.
Subject to permission from DLUHC, the University of Birmingham may keep copies of their analytical reports (which will be aggregate reports without personally identifiable data) and may use the reports for research and teaching purposes once the Faith Engagement Review has been published.
6.3 Legal basis for processing the data
Data protection legislation sets out when we are lawfully allowed to process your data.
The lawful basis that applies to this processing is:
a) Article 6(1)(e) of the UK GDPR: the processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller.
b) Chapter 2 Section 8(d) of the DPA 2018: processing is necessary for the exercise of a function of the Crown, a Minister of the Crown or a government department.
c) Article 9(2)(g) of the UK GDPR: the processing of special categories of data (e.g data that reveals racial or ethnic origin, religious or philosophical beliefs) is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest on the basis of UK law.
d) Section 10(3) and paragraph 6, part 2 of Schedule 1 to the DPA 2018: the processing is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest and its purpose is the exercise of a function of the Crown, a Minister of the Crown or a government department.
e) MHCLG is relying on its common law powers to process your personal data.
6.4 With whom we will be sharing the data
Personal data will be shared with the University of Birmingham under a data processing arrangement. The University of Birmingham will be processing the data on behalf of DLUHC by analysing the data set in line with the themes identified within the call for evidence and creating a series of reports synthesising the data for MHCLG.
If you would like to request that your data entry be removed from the data set to be sent to the University of Birmingham for processing please email FaithEngagementReview@levellingup.gov.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make a complaint, see section 6.10 below.
6.5 For how long we will keep the personal data, or criteria used to determine the retention period
Your personal data be deleted by both DLUHC and University of Birmingham (the processor) when the review is concluded, and before 31 March 2023.
6.6 Your rights, e.g. access, rectification, erasure
The data we are collecting is your personal data, and you have rights that affect what happens to it. You have the right to:
a. know that we are using your personal data
b. see what data we have about you
c. ask to have your data corrected, and to ask how we check the information we hold is accurate
d. ask to have your data deleted
e. complain to the ICO (see below).
In some circumstances you may also have the right to withdraw your consent to us having or using your data, to have all data about you deleted, or to object to particularly types of use of your data. We will tell you when these rights apply.
6.7 Your personal data will not be shared outside of the EU
6.8 We will not use your data for any automated decision making
6.9 Storage, security and data management
Your data was collected via Microsoft Forms and DLUHC will store your personal data in a secure government IT system. This data will be securely transferred to the University of Birmingham, who will store your personal data on a secure IT system using servers based in the UK.
6.10 Complaints and more information
When we ask you for information, we will keep to the law, including the Data Protection Act 2018 and UK General Data Protection Regulation.
If you are unhappy with the way the department has acted, you can make a complaint.
If you are not happy with how we are using your personal data, you should first contact email@example.com.
If you are still not happy, or for independent advice about data protection, privacy and data sharing, you can contact:
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Telephone: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545 745
Information Commissioner’s Office website