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Faith and belief

We value Scotland's diverse faith and belief communities and the important role they play in making Scotland a safer, stronger and more inclusive society, where everyone can live in peace and realise their potential.

To help achieve this we:

  • work with Interfaith Scotland to promote interfaith dialogue and support faith and belief communities
  • support Scotland's national Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration and Srebrenica Memorial Day to ensure lessons are learnt about what can happen if hatred remains unchecked
  • work to tackle discrimination to make sure no individual, or community, experiences hate crime due to their faith or belief
  • help Scotland's faith and belief communities to engage with government to achieve their aims
  • fund a variety of faith and belief organisations to tackle religious intolerance and promote equality and community cohesion

Promoting interfaith dialogue

Interfaith Summit 2015

The First Minister held Scotland's first Interfaith Summit in 2015 to raise the profile of interfaith activity and promote the contribution faith communities make to Scottish society. We are considering the points raised and they will inform our work.

Scottish Interfaith Week

We support Scottish Interfaith Week, an annual event which was established by Interfaith Scotland in 2004.

It provides an opportunity for individuals, interfaith groups and faith communities to bring local people together to promote understanding and co-operation between Scotland's diverse faith communities.

In 2011 we produced Belief in Dialogue, a good practice guide to developing effective working relationships between different faith and belief communities.

Supporting Scotland's national Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration and Srebrenica Memorial Day

27 January is the annual commemoration day for the Holocaust and the genocides that followed it: Cambodia (1975 to 1979), Bosnia (1992 to 1995), Rwanda (1994) and Darfur (2003 to the present).

The Scottish national Holocaust commemoration event is hosted by a different local authority each year.

Interfaith Scotland chairs the steering group for the event. This includes representatives from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the Scottish Government, the host council and Police Scotland.

We provide Interfaith Scotland with a £5,000 grant to support the development of the national event and a week-long programme.

This funding supports the costs of transport and accommodation for guest speakers, some from overseas, as well as the costs of an additional staff member.

We recognised the Srebrenica genocide as part of Holocaust Memorial Day 2015. And we support Remembering Srebrenica to recognise the commemoration date (11 July).

Tackling faith and belief-based discrimination (hate crime)

Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion

Launched in October 2015, the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime is developing a comprehensive, long-term approach to preventing and stopping hate crime in Scotland.

Legislation to tackle hate crime

The Scottish Parliament has legislated to make sure that offences aggravated by prejudice are brought to the attention of the court.

It has done this through the:

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 criminalises threats of serious violence, and threats intended to incite religious hatred, which are sent by post or posted on the internet.

We are also undertaking work to tackle sectarianism.

Speak Up Against Hate Crime

The Speak Up Against Hate Crime campaign was launched in February 2014 as part of the work on our Safer and Stronger strategic objective.

The campaign urged people who have suffered or witnessed crime based on prejudice to report all incidents to Police Scotland.

Supporting Scotland's faith and belief communities

Every year the First Minister meets with the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

This forms part of the Moderator's annual two- to three-day visit to the Scottish Parliament, which includes meetings with the Presiding Officer and Scottish party leaders.

The First Minister also meets annually with Action of Churches Together Scotland. This is Scotland's national ecumenical body, which brings together nine Christian denominations to work together on issues concerning Scottish churches.

We celebrate Hanukkah with Scotland's Jewish communities, and support regular meetings between Scottish Government Ministers and the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC).

We recognise the importance of belief alongside mainstream faiths. So we celebrate Yuletide in the Scottish Parliament every year with the Humanist Society Scotland.

We regularly engage with the Muslim Council of Scotland and support Islam Awareness Week, an event that encourages all Scotland's communities to become more familiar with Islam as a faith and culture.

Funding

We provide funding for organisations working towards race and religious equality.

Details about future funding will be available when it is announced.