Sunday 14 September has been designated by the Churches in Britain and Ireland as a national day of prayer for racial justice. While some fear that the conflict in Iraq may lead to increased tension between communities here, Churches are encouraged to take this chance to celebrate human diversity as something desirable and willed by God instead of something to be feared and hated.
The Churches' Commission for Racial Justice (a Commission of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland) has produced worship resources to enable Churches to celebrate cultural and ethnic diversity and to commit themselves to prayer and action for racial justice.
The pack encourages worship leaders to look behind the headlines. For instance, recently published figures show that:
The number of black men imprisoned in England and Wales has doubled since 1997
Black people are more likely to be stopped and searched than white people are, more likely to be jailed, and when jailed are more likely to receive long sentences
Minority ethnic communities make up nine per cent of the population of Britain but twenty one per cent of prisoners
Secretary for CCRJ, the Revd Arlington Trotman said, 'As people of faith, the defeat of racism is the business of us all. For it is only through the active participation of the many that justice is done and true liberation of those that are oppressed is secured. It is vital that people understand the impact of racism, for instance, the tone of the public debate about asylum seems to have led to an increase in racist attacks. Several asylum seekers have been murdered, but members of settled minority ethnic communities also report greater levels of prejudice. Many fear that the War on Terrorism, including the conflict in Iraq, is further fracturing British society and leading to suspicion and resentment against minority communities.'