LONDON – The Faith Minister of the UK, Lord Bourne, told The Times in an interview on September 17 that he encourages more schools to take the pupils and their families on trips to mosques to stamp out Islamophobia among parents.
“Occasionally, you find that parents are saying: ‘We’re not sure we want our kids to go to the local mosque’,” Bourne he told The Times.
“They’re then persuaded by the school that it’s a good idea and the kids come back and tell them about it and the parents then say, ‘Oh, that’s interesting, perhaps we’ll visit ourselves’,” he added.
Another suggestion from Bourne, a Welsh Conservative Party politician, is a twinning system which helps churches and mosques work together.
In response to the minister’s plan, an expert on Islamic affairs, Dr. Antony McRoy told Premier’s News Hour he’s unconvinced.
“It’s rather bemusing to think that taking pupils to any religious institution will affect the feelings of their parents. Instead, we need to ask what has caused Islamophobia amongst the parents,” McRoy expressed.
The current minister was appointed joint Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Wales Office in 2017. He holds this role jointly with his Parliamentary Under Secretary of State role at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which he started this year.
Previously Bourne held this role at the Department for Communities and Local Government, between 2016 and 2018. Also, he has been a member of the Lords since September 2013.
Faith in the UK
The British minister of Faith is expected to work with religious and community leaders to promote faith, religious tolerance, and stronger communities within the UK.
Islam is the second largest religion in Britain, with results from the United Kingdom Census 2011 giving the UK Muslim population in 2011 as 2,786,635, 4.4% of the total population.
The vast majority of Muslims in the UK live in the capital city of London. In 2011, it was reported that the UK could have as many as 100,000 converts to Islam, of which 66% were women.
Islam is the fastest growing religious confession in the UK and its adherents have the lowest average age out of all the major religious groups.
Between 2001 and 2009 the Muslim population increased almost ten times faster than the non-Muslim population.