Last week saw the publication of Dame Louise Casey’s review into integration and community cohesion in the UK. Her 199-page report, commissioned by David Cameron when he was prime minister, has been widely praised. However, that praise has focused on her diagnosis of the problems, rather than her recommendations.
The report’s diagnosis in many respects, though not all, mirrors what Barnabas Fund has been saying – and often been criticised for saying – for more than 20 years. In this regard it reflects at least a partial sea change from the political culture which claimed that all religions and cultures are equally valid and refused to look at them critically. However, that sea change raises the very real question of: What measure do we judge cultural and religious practices against?
It is in that area that the Casey review falls down – and falls down badly. In fact, we have very real concerns that some of the solutions Casey proposes risk being almost as intolerant as some of the problems she seeks to address. They may also undermine some of the UK’s historic freedoms, such as freedom of religion, which have developed over many centuries and spread across the world. Our concerns are:
- The review attempts to redefine “British values” to exclude freedom of religion.
- There is a prejudicial attitude to religion evident in the review.
- The language used about Christians and Muslims holding socially conservative views is highly prejudiced, including terms such as “less progressive” or even “regressive”.
- There is a particularly prejudiced attitude to Christians.
- The review seeks to redefine “extremism” to include religious views “at odds with the views of mainstream society”. This is both alarming and intolerant.
- The review equates holding “conservative” religious views – whether Christian or Islamic – with “extremism”.
- The review shows almost no understanding of either the nature of freedom of religion, its historical development in the UK or its central importance to the UK’s historic national values.
- The review recommends the imposition of a new set of required beliefs both for those holding public office and for wider society. These beliefs are partisan because they are socially liberal values.
- The review implicitly seeks to impose government backed definitions of what modern (or “British”) Islam or Christianity are.
- The review is fundamentally intolerant of anyone who does not hold the narrow liberal humanist views of the author.
Click here for Barnabas Fund’s in-depth analysis of the Casey review
We would like for your voice to be heard as well as ours on this matter, so we are encouraging everyone to post their thoughts on social media using the hashtag #WhatsWrongWithCaseyRev