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September 12, 2010

Chaplaincy Blog
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» Chaplaincy launches Faith Calendar – an excellent tool for furthering Equal Opportunities implementation

The Chaplaincy to the University of Glamorgan is pleased to announce the launch of our on-line Faith Calendar .

This calendar, compiled with assistance from the Chaplaincy’s faith advisors, indicates the main fixed and movable observances of the UK’s nine major religions, up to December 2013.

Most of the world’s religious faiths include festivals and fasts. On festival days, followers of a religion may consider themselves required to attend a place of worship or to rest from their daily work. Fasting can include avoidance of all food and water from dawn until dusk (such as the Muslim practice of Ramadan) or the avoidance of certain foods on certain days (many Christians avoid meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday).

Under new Equality legislation the University is required to avoid discrimination against its employees, students, and other clients, on grounds of religious faith or philosophical beliefs.

The Chaplaincy’s Faith Calendar is offered as a tool to help University personnel in planning future activities. The calendar identifies the principal celebrations within the UK’s nine major faiths which are most likely to impact the working arrangements of believers, and provides links to summary information about the festival.

The Chaplaincy welcomes feedback from University departments which could improve the usefulness of this calendar.

Further information on the relevant equalities legislation can be found in these documents from ACAS , from the Government’s Department for Communities and Local Government and from the Equality Challenge Unit

The University Chaplain and the University’s Equalities Manager are also available for further advice.

March 11, 2010

Chaplaincy Blog
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» Equality and Freedom – are they Compatible?

Issues of equality are very complicated, said Ziauddin Sardar at the Chaplaincy Lecture on Monday evening.

Talking of the current controversy about the Equalities Bill and the Pope’s remarks on it, he drew attention to the tension between contradictory points of view that each have their own validity. Freedom of speech and conscience are in a sense absolute: therefore religious bodies should not be forced to employ people whose beliefs and way of life are contrary to what they stand for. But equal rights are also in a sense an absolute: therefore no-one should be subject to discrimination on the ground of their gender or sexual orientation. But when these “absolutes” clash, the issue becomes complicated.

Ziauddin Sardar is a leading Muslim scholar and author. He was delivering the Chaplaincy Lecture on ‘Re-thinking the Contemporary Relevance of Islam’. As a former member of the Equalities Commission, he gave examples of the kind of dilemmas often faced, and stressed that every case must be considered individually in its context, and we need to learn to live with contradictions. He went on to say that faith and belief systems are full of contradictions, including science, which he described as a kind of belief system with its own contradictions.

On Islam, he pointed out the difference between the Qur’an as the supreme authority and the Sharia as the product of tradition in different historical contexts. He likened tradition to a lake – a rich source of refreshment and nourishment for plants, animals and people, but needing to have a constant influx of fresh water or it will become stagnant and a source of disease rather than life.
In answer to a question from the floor Dr Sardar said he felt very positive about future co-operation between faith communities and optimistic about the essential contribution they make to society.

The lecture, which was held at the Glamorgan Conference Centre, was attended by people of different faiths from the University and the local community. Details of further Chaplaincy lectures will be posted on the Chaplaincy web site