This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
Eric Pickles addresses the Ridvan Festival on the House of Commons Terrace Pavillion.
I am an enormous admirer of the Baha’i faith.
All faiths in this country put a lot back into their communities, but none more so than Baha’i.
In terms of looking out for the vulnerable, in terms of wanting to make friends with people of different faiths, there is always a Baha’i in the mix.
What we all have in common is our basic humanity which binds us. It is this commonality, this ‘oneness’ of the human race, that inspires the Baha’i faith.
While the Baha’i religion is relatively young, your message of harmony and unity ripples down through the ages.
It creates an opportunity for all, rejecting all forms of prejudice, and bringing all faiths together to celebrate what we have in common, rather than focusing on our differences.
These are the qualities we strive to promote in the UK, and luckily for us, there are over 10,000 members of the Baha’i faith in this country, each with the same message of optimism and hope.
While you may not be huge in number, you have an enormous impact. You threw yourselves behind projects like A Year of Service, got yourselves involved in the Big Iftar, and continue to be a shining presence in interfaith projects around the country.
Your knack of reaching out to people of all faiths, and frankly, those of no faith, and promoting ‘oneness’ is very inspiring, and a little humbling.
This oneness in the human race, the oneness of religion - through your Divine Plan, I know will continue to inspire and motivate young people, and ensure the Baha’i Faith will go from strength to strength, continuing to bring people together here and around the world.
As you celebrate this day of divine felicity, I want to say thank you for making the UK a more tolerant, a more cohesive, and a more cheerful place. I want to wish you all a very happy Ridvan!