Ekklesia, May 27, www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14856
The first female rabbi to address the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has profiled the high standards that should be expected of faith-backed social care providers.
Baroness Neuberger, a high profile social reformer and member of the House of Lords, praised the Church of Scotland for its “truly amazing” care to older people in an address to the Kirk’s national decision-making body this morning (27 May 2011).
She declared: “Religious services tend to offer very good care services, in my experience among the best in the UK and indeed worldwide. Still, we Jews could learn so much from the Church of Scotland about how you care for the elderly and the dying.”
She also highlighted the contribution religious bodies can make to end-of-life provision and recognising the diverse (and not always formally ‘religious’) spiritual needs death and dying, as well as ‘ethical wills’.
‘Faith-based care’ has become a controversial issue in public debate recently, both because of concerns that private or voluntary bodies may be being used to excuse government its responsibilities in a climate of cuts and austerity, and also because of equalities concerns.
Some faith bodies receiving and deploying public funds for public benefit have sought exemptions from some equalities requirements, particularly on grounds of sexual orientation, which has been a matter of strong moral dispute within the churches.