On Sunday 31st May some members of SELHuG joined with other members of faith communities to participate in the Lewisham Inter-faith walk for peace. This idea was born after the Charlie Hebdo atrocity in Paris, when it was felt that a sign of solidarity and friendship in partnership with all members of society was needed. Lewisham Police and the faith leaders group organised the event and it was a great success, despite the wet weather, with about 200 people walking, including Mayor Sir Steve Bullock and Lewisham East MP Heidi Alexander.
We started in Catford Synagogue and ended at Lewisham Police Station, stopping off en route at the Civic Centre, Islamic Centre, Methodist Church and Sivan Temple. A good lunch was provided at the Islamic Centre and further refreshments at the Sivan Temple. At each stop the respective faith leader welcomed us and gave a short reading from their scripture. The whole event was friendly and inclusive. The Humanist presence was noticed, appreciated and welcomed; Sir Steve mentioning ‘faith groups and our Humanist friends’ and there were several mentions of people of ‘faith and non-faith’.
Inter-faith dialogue can sometimes be a controversial matter in the Humanist and Atheist communities. There are certainly times when we have to draw a line in the sand to protect and promote the values of secularism. However, it is also important to demonstrate that we can be tolerant and respectful and that we are happy to work with members of our local community, whatever their beliefs.
James Dobson, our ex-Chair and actively involved in the local Police liaison group and SACRE, had a chance to speak along with the faith leaders and summed it up wonderfully: “this event demonstrates the best of humanity”.