Reintroducing our Faithful Leaders podcast

Recently, we have spent a lot of time emphasising the role that faith communities have played in responding to the pandemic. We have also been eager to remind people of the role they played prior to the pandemic and ought to play after it (see our Building Back Better conference for more on that). As a national network of faith-based and community organisations seeking to serve their communities through social action, this is, of course, why FaithAction exists.

However, faith doesn’t just shape communities; it shapes individual lives too. And from around the time that our first lockdown began in March last year, Daniel, our National Executive Director, has been having conversations with individuals of national influence—from Directors of Public Health to Members of Parliament—about the role that their personal faith has played in their own life experiences, in general and during our present crisis.

Far from being an aside to our usual work, these interviews play a central role in our mission to raise the status of faith in society. They do this by challenging the assumption that the public sphere in Britain is an entirely secular one, and that those who have positions of influence ought to ‘leave their faith at the door’ when they work in that public capacity. As we hope to show through these interviews, people of faith are everywhere, occupying high-status positions in a variety of professions. And while personal faith occupies a different status and role in each individual’s life, rarely do they feel the need to put aside their faith when they enter the workplace.

Normalising the idea of people of faith wielding strong influence in society will be welcomed by many, but will likely still make others feel uneasy. This position is often held more strongly in principle than in practice, however. For example, David Linden MP told us in our recent interview with him that he was unsure about how public to be about his faith when his career in politics first began, but that he was pleasantly surprised to find that being honest about it hasn’t been met with much hostility. If anything, his strongest critics have been those who hold to the same faith and would like to hold his decisions to account on that basis!

Our latest episode went out yesterday, featuring Daniel’s second conversation with Prof. Jim McManus, Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire. Jim, like Daniel, also has a seat on the Government’s Places of Worship Taskforce. They talk lockdown, vaccines, and avoiding the instrumentalisation of faith by government. We hope you enjoy what you hear and feel inclined to listen back through the other interviews too.

At roughly 15 minutes each but packed with insight, we hope the different opinions and experiences contained in this series help you to think about the role your own faith plays in how you engage with society. If you are not a person of faith yourself, we hope this series will give you insight into how individuals of faith engage the world and are using their influence for the betterment of society.

If there is anyone you would like to have us interview next, please let us know by emailing [email protected]

About Matt Allen

Project Officer

Matt plays an important role in FaithAction’s efforts to advocate for faith communities and the value they add to society. He was central in coordinating our COVID-Response project and continues to gather and collate concerns and ideas from faith communities up and down the country. He also oversees FaithAction’s work as Secretariat to the APPG on Faith and Society and works to support the propagation and health of Faith Covenants nationwide.