Print Archive: May 2015 News Magazine – Faith and community

By - Monday 13th July, 2015

At a time when religion has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, Croydon proves that its spiritual life has much more to offer

It’s not often that we discuss the impact of religion on Croydon. In the midst of political rivalries, rapidly developing regeneration or ongoing rumblings about gentrification (still not happening by the way – or at least not quickly – in case you’ve not read my other essays/rants on the subject by now!) it’s very easy to overlook the things that are here for the really long haul, even if their effects on the world around are considerable. The difference that they make is often subtle, continuous, and hard to see from year-to-year. Economic trends are a bit like this and, being somewhat slow, it makes them invisible enough: I’m still amazed by how many people don’t realise how comparatively recent Croydon’s slide into economic woe is, something which I will never let regular readers forget. But take something that’s even more gradual, like the change that a religious community brings to an area, whether it be wholly positive or not, and no wonder it’s not something that we’re quick to comment on.

But ignoring it would be a mistake. Croydon, like any London borough, has a wide range of religious communities. As usual, being that amazing tiny microcosm of London that it is, almost every faith imaginable is represented within its squashed-boot-shaped borders. Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews – all call Croydon home and are actively engaging with and, in some cases, transforming their communities and the communities around them. In fact, the most recent census suggests that Croydon people are more religious than other London counterparts and are significantly more religious than the average across England. The evidence is all around, even at a cursory glance: anyone who’s wandered down North End on Saturday will be familiar with the many highly vocal evangelists who make it a regular haunt. Religious groups of all kinds are out trying to actively target social problems like homelessness. Faith schools are frequently making the headlines in Croydon for the wrong reasons, as a recent incident at Coloma Convent school showed. And as Croydon continues to grow more multi-cultural, plenty of other religious practices – of enormous variety and sometimes long standing presence – have become more immediately noticeable.

That’s why we’ve devoted this edition to Croydon’s faith communities and what they’re about: from looking at the impacts and effects of faith schools to looking beyond the often heard-on-the-news divisions of Sunni and Shia, at a Muslim community which is neither and whose message of peace has made a striking impact on Britain’s political elite. From rapidly growing evangelical movements and a call to make Croydon “a new Corinth” to a unique multi-faith chaplaincy service at Croydon University Hospital that has to serve the spiritual and pastoral needs of an incredibly wide range of people with very different belief systems.

But there’s plenty more inside, including your regular dose of politics – on the national and local stage – sport reviews, and the latest news handily summarised on our “April in brief” page. Read and enjoy!

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The Croydon Citizen

The Croydon Citizen

The Croydon Citizen is a non-profit community news magazine for London's most populous borough.

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