Newsletter March 2021

The Religious Diversity Centre Newsletter 04 March 2021

Kia ora koutou, warm greetings to you all.
We hope that you had a good start into the New Year with its ups and downs – and lockdowns already. Here is some news from the Religious Diversity Centre. Please click on the headings to get further information.

Religious Communities Learning about the Vaccine
Two RDC trustees, attended a Government briefing for community leaders during the Auckland week of Lockdown. Everyone was encouraged to ensure that people have the correct information about the pandemic and now, in particular, about the vaccine. Read the full article for further details, including a religious perspective on the safety of the vaccine.

The Religious Leaders Forum 2021

The national Religious Leaders Forum
Just before the mid-February lockdown, the Religious Leaders Forum was hosted by the Religious Diversity Centre. Having missed the 2020 Forum meeting together in-person, the Leaders decided to meet again early in 2021. This annual Forum has been a valuable time for the Leaders to get to know one another and to share their concerns. They noted this time that knowing one another had been helpful under the pressures of Covid-19.
The items on the February agenda of this Forum were the experience of religious communities under the pressures of Covid-19 and the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 15 March 2019 terrorist attack on the Christchurch mosques and its Recommendations.
Pressures of Covid-19
The challenges during Covid-19 were similar across the different religions with one of the most painful experiences being the pastoral during the celebration of funerals.
The good news was that everyone found new ways of working together, new ways of keeping in touch. New connections were made with people and communities in other parts of the world, bringing expert speakers onto Zoom presentations, New Zealanders sharing in worship taking place on the other side of the world, sharing in different cultures and languages, people in other countries sharing worship services in New Zealand.
Report of the Royal Commission
The Recommendations of the Report focus on the urgent work of building social cohesion and inclusion at all levels of New Zealand society.
The Leaders were concerned however, to discuss with the Government the fact that ‘religion’ is subsumed under culture or ethnicity throughout the Report and its Recommendations.
It was decided to write to the Hon Andrew Little, the Lead Minister for the Government’s response to the Report – with copies to the Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, and the Prime Minister.
The Leaders called on the Minister:
1. To ensure direct engagement with religious communities and their unique needs and concerns.
2. To establish a religious advisory group alongside the ethnic communities’ advisory group for the implementation of the Recommendations.
3. To establish a single government or ministerial point of contact for religious communities and their concerns.  

Upcoming Event
Book Launch on 25 May 2021, 6pm (AUT City Campus): Reimagining Faith and Management.
The editors include RDC trustee Professor Edwina Pio with Robert Kilpatrick and Timothy Pratt.

The website is undergoing revision and is a work in progress. We invite you to have a look at the new category Events/Resources where you will find links to interesting events, articles, radio programmes, reports, video clips and webinars.
If you come across an interesting item while being online, please let us know so we might be able to share it this way.

As you can imagine, planning on-site events is very challenging at the moment. We will keep in touch and update you through our website and emails.

Kia kaha – stay safe,
The Team at The Religious Diversity Centre