The Parish of Burchetts Green

What causes so much trouble is dogma - the laying down of principles as undeniably true. When over- zealous beliefs are adopted, we forget that an essential ingredient of faith is doubt. When religions use improper persuasion, force, seduction or un- proven 'facts' to enlist supporters, they are abusing human rights.

I have been fascinated with the TV series The State which explores why young men and women are willing to give up their ways of life, their families and friends and travel to Syria to join ISIL. It's a frightening expose of how young minds can be manipulated and used to perpetrate a fanatical religious belief founded not on fact but a warped ideology.

We journey through life discovering for ourselves meaning and purpose. It's an exciting journey that searches for truth. We can share our faith and belief always with the understanding that our religious practices are open to interpretation and that the God we believe in and model our life on is caring, loving and forgiving.

We are called to be salt and light and we should engage with the world, not defensively but with confidence and hope. It is time for a proper debate about the place of faith in modern Britain especially at a time of great change ahead when we regain our power to set our own laws and standards within a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society.

Enjoy the rest of the summer. Every blessing

by Rev Dilys

If you remember 'we don't do God' was Alastair Campbell's reported phrase when he was Tony Blair's director of strategy and communication. On that particular occasion Blair was being questioned about his faith and Campbell interrupted with the now infamous phrase.

For some time religion and faith have been regarded as topics to be avoided in the public square. Secular assumptions have been and still are being introduced piecemeal into our way of life. Christianity is being marginalised as we struggle with politically correct (PC) rulings which often are frankly really quite ridiculous. 'Has the world gone mad?' we ask when yet another ruling emerges which threatens our traditional way of thinking and behaving.

However, more recently there has been a backlash to some of this and we are, hopefully, now moving towards a re-appraisal of the damage that can and has been done in this regard. Rather than the fear of offending or proselytising, religion of all persuasions should be something that canbe discussed openly without fear of reprisal.

People are naturally sensitive about their religious beliefs and practices and, because of the undesirable acts being perpetrated in the name of religion, it is timely to have open discussions on religion if we are to understand where we stand.

Religion and faith is not the same thing. As one student said 'religion is religion and my faith is my own'.