From one perspective the need for a Register of Spiritual Caregivers is obvious. There is a huge section of our population that now identifies as spiritual-but-not-religious (SNR) and requires appropriate spiritual care from people who share their approach.
But there is also a bigger picture, which is concerned with a cultural shift that has not yet been recognised or integrated into education, healthcare and government.
It is concerning that although this new approach to spirituality — spiritual-but-not-religious — has been named and acknowledged, it is not appropriately represented in those bodies and sectors where other faith traditions have a seat and a voice. These bodies range from small local interfaith groups, through the regional bodies that set schools’ religious education curricula, to Westminster and the House of Lords.
This is partly due to the fact that the spiritual-but-not-religious community is new and has not cohered into a movement with a clear voice.
At the same time its inclusive approach has sometimes given the impression of cultural appropriation, with some of its representatives claiming to be able to represent any and all faith traditions. This has understandably not been acceptable to those who are deeply embedded in traditional faith communities.
The UKRSC provides a much-needed measure in representing this significant spiritual-but-not-religious community. In pastoral and chaplaincy contexts the UKRSC makes no claims to be able to represent or lead the worship of other faith traditions, but it offers humane, compassionate and deeply respectful spiritual care. Our caregivers are service and community oriented. That said, many of our registrants have their roots in particular faith traditions and we have a deep respect for all faiths.
With its rigorous Code of Conduct, governance and policies, it also demonstrates a mature and solid ethical foundation. It is a body that can sit with confidence at the table with other faiths.
More than that the UKRSC is pioneering in its approach to education and training, having developed the first Ofqual registered vocational course in practical spirituality and wellbeing.
The UKRSC, and its Members, is therefore much more than a pastoral body of care. It is the symbol and voice of a movement that is coming of age.
From this foundation it then becomes possible to ensure that the spiritual-but-not-religious approach is fairly and usefully represented in:
- The Religious Education curriculum of schools.
- The training of healthcare and social services professionals.
- All bodies where other faith traditions give opinion, advice and counsel.
We look forward to working cooperatively with all interested bodies.