Theresa May urged to reinstate full time Minister for Faith
Theresa May has been urged to reinstate a Minister for Faith after the role was relegated in her cabinet reshuffle.
Jonathan Reynolds, the Labour MP for Stalybridge and Hyde and chair of Christians on the Left, has called for the position to return to being a full ministerial job after reports faith was being sidelined within May's cabinet.
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth was made a junior minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in July. One of his responsibilities is "faith and intergration" but he also oversees community cohesion, race equality, troubled families, domestic refuges, travellers policy and is in charge of the Syrian Refugees Programme.
On top of that Bourne's time is divided between DCLG and the Wales Office where is also junior minister with responsibilities for energy, environment, defence, local government, localism, education and law and order in Wales.
Reynolds told Christian Today he would like to see "Minister for Faith returned to a stand alone role".
He said: "Understanding and valuing faith communities is paramount to a successful, cohesive, inclusive society. Faith communities deliver positive social change through pastoral support, youth activities, and welfare provision such as foodbanks, yet too frequently come under fire when tensions rise.
"Engaging with them is a big job and should be seen as such."
Under the coalition government Baroness Warsi was Minister for Faith between September 2012 and August 2014. As a senior government figure in the Foreign Office she attended Cabinet meetings. After her resignation over the government's response to the Gaza war, the role was given to Eric Pickles, another Cabinet minister and then Secretary of State for Communities.
But after that the role was abandoned and responsibility for faith given to a junior minister in DCLG, Baroness Williams of Trafford. Now the position has been sidelined further with Lord Bourne's already extensive responsibilities divided between two government departments.
A spokeswoman for DCLG told Christian Today: "The government remains committed to both faith and integration.
"That has clearly been shown by Lord Bourne, who just weeks into the role has already met with dozens of faith communities to celebrate their contributions and discuss their concerns."