Burt's eye - Religious and racial harmony is brewing

PUBLISHED: 14:10 26 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:14 06 May 2010

THE simplest yet most generous human gesture is to offer someone in need food and drink. It can be done without words and across cultures, for generosity is a language everyone understands. This delightfully straightforward idea is behind the campaign whi

THE simplest yet most generous human gesture is to offer someone in need food and drink. It can be done without words and across cultures, for generosity is a language everyone understands.

This delightfully straightforward idea is behind the campaign which will be launched in the autumn by the charity Toc H. Founded by the Rev Tubby Clayton from the ruins of World War I, Toc H became an internationally recognised symbol of Christian compassion over subsequent decades.

It is still there. This week I went to Bradford as shadow communities minister to promote its Tea and Cakes campaign that will run from September 11 to November 11 - two dates symbolic of the potential for man to destroy himself yet also of hope and reconciliation.

November 11 was when the guns finally fell silent to end First World War I and, of course, September 11 was when the twin towers in New York were destroyed by terrorists.

The campaign is designed to enable faith communities to talk to each other, not to seek to convert anyone, but over a cup of tea to find the everyday things to share in life which are too easily forgotten in a world where headlines scream of conflict and mistrust.

Friends and neighbours share a cup of tea. So in Bradford, Muslim and Christian communities will do the same.

Many already do, but with anxiety over racial harmony and divided communities no longer buried beneath the surface in Britain, the need to talk where there is currently a truculent silence is urgent.

Faith has made a tremendous contribution to community development in this country throughout the ages. Our own time is no different. Millions of people of faith who in their everyday lives contribute so much to their neighbours' welfare should not be eased into the shadows because of the actions of some who misuse their faith to promote conflict.

I wish the campaign well.

http://www.tochparticipation.co.uk

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