What 2015 taught us about religion.

What 2015 taught us about religion.

For many reasons, 2015 was an interesting and sometimes fraught year for religion. With two horrible attacks very close to home in Paris bookending the year, and countless heartless attacks throughout the year across the globe that claim to be done in the name of religion, we could be forgiven for seeing 2015 as a very bad year for faith.

But that wouldn’t be entirely fair. If we looked back through the year we would see dozens of small acts of kindness and trust that do far greater justice to faith in 2015. Although events abroad can have very real consequences in our communities at home, we’ve seen great things taking place in 2015.

In January, one Bradford Synagogue appointed its first ever Muslim council member. Meanwhile, in London, a peace walk pushed through the wind and the rain to take place and included faith leaders from across the country.

Across Yorkshire, Shaykh Fuad Nahdi toured mosques, churches, and everywhere in between to talk about building stronger communities. Jews and Muslims in North London joined hands to protect their neighbourhood. Somali Muslims were invited yet again to share Ramadan at their local synagogue. Continuing with that theme, the West London Synagogue opened their doors to host an incredibly popular Big Iftar event.

Elsewhere, girls from Jewish, Muslim, and Catholic schools broke gender and various other barriers to work together to improve their coding skills so they can push their way into the tech industry. And a Synagogue in Barnet pushed to make sure that Syrian refugees would be allowed to live in their community.

These wonderful stories aren’t just happening in our local communities, but are also happening across the globe and capturing the attention of the world’s media. In February, Norwegians formed a peace ring around synagogues and mosques in a show of solidarity and protection. One Sikh gentleman in New Zealand captured wonderfully what it means to be a person of faith in his protection of this injured child.

A little closer to home, a group of Welsh teachers taught us that Islam is ‘nothing to be afraid of’. And we certainly should not forget these Muslim and Jewish Americans who showed wonderful kindness to the black churches that were burnt down last year.

Now, let us consider that these are only the stories that have been picked up by the media. The reality is that there is no method on earth capable of capturing the unquantifiable number of acts of kindness by people of faith in 2015.

Being a person of faith in 2015 means being part of an enormous group of individuals that shaped communities with kindness and dedication throughout the year. That’s something we can be immensely proud of.

Why don’t we carry that on into 2016? Just add it to the end of your New Year’s Resolution list.

Author: Mr Tim Burton-Jones

Date: 12 January 2016

@nearneighbours