17/10/2013 22:17 BST | Updated 17/10/2013 23:04 BST

Justin Welby, Archbishop Of Canterbury, Tells Faith Leaders The Religious Are Not 'Mad' (POLL)

Are the religious mad? Unsurprisingly, the Archbishop of Canterbury thinks not, having warned against negatively labelling those with faith and highlighting the positive contribution belief makes to community life.

Speaking in London on Thursday, Justin Welby said that believers are wrongly viewed as having little to offer, adding: "We are not a disappearing minority who are still fool enough to believe in God, who are still fool enough to believe that the metaphysical is significant, that the spiritual is significant."

"There are many people who wish we were and many people who think that, like the 13th strike of the clock, a person who believes in a spirituality of some kind consequently must be mad about everything else as well and therefore cannot be taken seriously on anything," he said.

In an address at Lambeth Palace to faith leaders from around the world, the recently appointed Archbishops said the perception that religion is synonymous with violence presents difficulties for them all.

"We face an enormous challenge, we face the challenge that the common view is that religion leads to violence, that religion leads to trouble," he told the crowd

"While we are sharing in such a way, may our lives show that, rather than faith being a problem, it does in fact put us in the best time and place for understanding, respect and becoming the answer in a world that is wandering."


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The gathering also heard from Baroness Warsi, Foreign Office Minister and Minister for Faith Communities. She spoke of her efforts as a Foreign Office Minister to speak out in defence of persecuted religious minorities throughout the world.

Interfaith work should go beyond a "cup of tea and a samosa in a drafty church hall", she added. "If you have a shared goal and shared interests and a shared past and history then real relationships can be built out of more than just a cup of tea and a samosa in a drafty church."