Northern Ireland – Mixed Housing – bridging sectarian divide?

About 90% of public sector housing has become segregated

About 90% of public sector housing has become segregated

For the first time, the Housing Executive is to provide accommodation for families who want to live alongside people of different denominations.

Up until the outbreak of the Troubles, most public housing tenants had lived in relative harmony in mixed estates.

Comment: So how can they claim that they’re mixing sectarian communities for the first time? And if up until the outbreak of the Troubles, most public housing tenants had lived in relative harmony in mixed estates – isn’t this move, although very worthy and august, a little cynical akin to putting a plaster-tape over a shattered leg? Shouldn’t the Politicians and the communities be seeking permanent answers to what divides them thus – religion or politics or both?

Experiments in community cohesion will only succeed when the communities themselves become (not tolerating but) accepting* of other faiths and beliefs.

The social fragility mere tolerance brings is all too clear to see. Social trust and social capital cannot be built on such fragile arrangements. Notwithstanding the report from Joseph Rowntree Foundation on Faith as Social Capital

 my view is that in spite of "All major faiths have doctrinal commitments to peace, justice, honesty, service, community, personal responsibility and forgiveness, which can contribute to the development of networks and the trusting relationships that characterise positive social capital.  Recognition of these two facets of religion prompts a critical exploration of the complex field of faith and social capital." – sustainable community cohesion will remain an anathema unless the critical exploration of the complex field of faith elicits unconditional acceptance from all faiths of the concept of Henotheism which is defined by Webster’s as "the belief in or worship of one God without denying the existence of others." and Panentheism – a beautiful concept. It says that God is both in the world and beyond it, both immanent and transcendent.

Some Hindus believe only in the formless Absolute Reality as God, others believe in God as personal Lord and Creator. Hinduism gives the freedom to approach God in one’s own way, without demanding conformity to any dogma. This freedom makes the concept of God in Hinduism the richest and the most diverse in all the world’s religions (accepting and inclusive of all schools of thought including Atheism).

"However, whilst religion is a deeply personal matter, it is one’s own journey towards one’s God or a desire to go home, as it were. If we look at the last 2000 years of history, God and religion have been used for political motives, to trespass, to conquer, to loot, to kill. Some people found that God and religion were the most potent weapons and this gave birth to exclusivism, an ideology that only one religious path is true and that others need to be condemned and conquered." Anil Bhanot  Gita’s "Unity in Diversity" v Religious Exclusivism. "The problem is that these religious people, who are all very good people, really nice, very charitable, feel that in order to be passionately devout they must hold onto the exclusiveness of their religion, that by believing that only they are following the true path, they are somehow more religious, more pious and therefore closer to God." "Even the word tolerance in interfaith is unacceptable when it implies that actually it is in one’s magnanimity that one is tolerating other false religions. That one would sit with others on the same table but won’t accept their faith and belief systems as true."

I am not here to promote Hindu school of thought but to promote internationally accepted theological concepts of Henotheism & Panentheism as explained above. Without these becoming the mainstream concepts within the Interfaith Communities world over – there is very little chance of eliciting social capital out of faith and therefore very little chance for sustainable cohesive societies.


Our peace of mind increases in spite of suffering; we become braver and more enterprising; we understand more clearly the difference between what is everlasting and what is not; we learn how to distinguish between what is our duty and what is not. Our pride melts away and we become humble. Our worldly attachments diminish and, likewise, the evil within us diminishes from day to day. Mahatma Gandhi


‘Messages from three mature mixed-tenure communities’



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Filed under Equality & Diversity within Community Cohesion

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