Prime Minister Cameron is Proud to be a Christian in a Christian Country

Video message from Prime Minister David Cameron to mark Easter 2014

"Easter is the most important date in the Christian calendar, and an incredibly special time for people across Britain and around the world. Last month I was in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and I got to see for myself the places where Jesus was born and died. It was an extraordinary experience to be in those places where so much history began.

Today, 2000 years on, Easter is not just a time for Christians across our country to reflect, but a time for our whole country to reflect on what Christianity brings to Britain. All over the UK, every day, there are countless acts of kindness carried out by those who believe in and follow Christ. The heart of Christianity is to 'love thy neighbour' and millions do really live that out. I think of the Alpha courses run in our prisons, which work with offenders to give them a new life inside and outside prison, or the soup kitchens and homeless shelters run by churches. And we saw that same spirit during the terrible storms that struck Britain earlier this year. From Somerset to Surrey, from Oxford to Devon, churches became refuges, offering shelter and food, congregations raised funds and rallied together, parish priests even canoed through their villages to rescue residents. They proved, yet again, that people's faith motivates them to do good deeds.

That is something this Government supports and celebrates, and it's why we have announced more funding for the Near Neighbours programme bringing together even more faiths in even more cities to do social action. And as we celebrate Easter, let's also think of those who are unable to do so, the Christians around the world who are ostracised, abused -- even murdered -- simply for the faith they follow. Religious freedom is an absolute, fundamental human right.

Britain is committed to protecting and promoting that right, by standing up for Christians and other minorities, at home and abroad. Our hearts go out to them, especially at this special time of year. So as we approach this festival I'd like to wish everyone, Christians and non-Christians a very happy Easter."


In his Easter address at a Downing Street reception, and a subsequent article in the Church Times, Prime Minister David Cameron has affirmed his Anglican Christian faith, and undertaken to be more "evangelical", and to expand the role of faith and faith organisations in Britain. Cameron claimed that: ‘Christians are now the most persecuted religion around the world’.

To some extent, the "doing God" echoes the faith position of Tony Blair:
In 2006, Tony Blair said that his decision to go to war in Iraq would ultimately be judged by God.
Ironically, Blair had previously said that he did not speak openly about his devout Catholicism because people would think he was a "nutter".

Cameron's recent statements are not overtly driven by the same evangelical zeal of Blair.
And, unlike Blair, Cameron considers himself to be "a bit vague on some of the more difficult parts of the faith".
Perhaps Cameron thinks he will be thought of as a generally more amenable "nutter" if he remains suitably vague and does not go head-on with the difficult parts.

Such as war.

Could it be merely a matter of time before Cameron also uses God to justify his role in current and future wars?

Cameron's Minister for Faith and Communities, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi (a former chair of the Conservative Party), has declared the governing Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition to be “the most pro-faith government in the West”. The unelected minister Baroness Warsi, whose brief is to promote religion in politics, has said that religious groups must be allowed to provide public services without the State being “suspicious of their motives”.

There is the suggestion here that people of religion are victims - that their right to openly practice their faith is under attack.

Last week, in the House of Commons, when Prime Minister Cameron was asked about the plight of Christians in Pakistan, he said:
‘In the run-up to Easter, it is important to remember how many Christians are still persecuted around the world.’

It has been pointed out that Cameron is attempting to curry favour with the established Church, and that this is motivated by political expediency.

Cameron is depicting Christians as the goodies, and non-Christians as the baddies.

Though he has been keen to emphasise that he is in no way "doing down other faiths". Many non-Christians, even atheists, he admits, live by a moral code. However, as Polly Toynbee points out, "those who feel threatened on account of their non-Christian faith won't find Christian branding reassuring."

The Prime Minister is going against a huge tide of public opinion that is at last starting to get the number of these brainwashed religious nuts.
Slowly but surely, people are beginning to realise just how badly they are being deceived by their leaders and teachers.

Media Comment about David Cameron's Easter Message

The Prime Minister's opening speech at his Easter reception at Downing Street (April 9, 2014)
"I’m proud to hold a reception for Christians here in Downing Street and proud to be a Christian myself and to have my children at a church school.
I also wanted to say I’m proud this year to have completed a small pilgrimage, which is I have finally made it to the place where our Saviour was both crucified and born. And it’s a very special moment the first time you go to the Church of the Holy Nativity; it’s a remarkable, extraordinary place, and I think something that will stay with me.
And as Eric Pickles said this week, we should be proud of the fact that we are a Christian country, and I am proud of the fact we’re a Christian country and we shouldn’t be ashamed to say so. But I think the 3 things I want to focus on – and I hope we can all work on this – the first is to expand the role of faith and faith organisations in our country. This has been a consistent theme of this government; I’m sure there’s more we could do to help make it easier for faith organisations.
People sometimes say, you know, “You talk about the Big Society; don’t you realise this is what the Church has been doing for decades?” And I say yes, absolutely. Jesus invented the Big Society 2000 years ago, I just want to see more of it and encourage as much of it as possible. And that is something I think we should all want to see: a bigger role for faith-based organisations in our society. And if there are blockages, if there are things that are stopping you doing more, think of me if you like as a sort of giant Dyno-Rod in Whitehall: I want to make it easier, I want to unblock the things that help you do what you do. So please let’s do that."

My faith in the Church of England - By David Cameron, Church Times (April 16, 2014)
I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people's lives.

First, being more confident about our status as a Christian country does not somehow involve doing down other faiths or passing judgement on those with no faith at all. Many people tell me it is easier to be Jewish or Muslim in Britain than in a secular country precisely because the tolerance that Christianity demands of our society provides greater space for other religious faiths, too.

Crucially, the Christian values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, and love are shared by people of every faith and none - and we should be confident in standing up to defend them.

People who, instead, advocate some sort of secular neutrality fail to grasp the consequences of that neutrality, or the role that faith can play in helping people to have a moral code. Of course, faith is neither necessary nor sufficient for morality.

Many atheists and agnostics live by a moral code - and there are Christians who don't. But for people who do have a faith, that faith can be a guide or a helpful prod in the right direction - and, whether inspired by faith or not, that direction or moral code matters.
So, in being confident about our Christianity, we should also be ambitious in supporting faith-based organisations to do even more.

That is why we are not just investing £20 million in repairing our great cathedrals, but also giving £8 million to the Near Neighbours programme, which brings faith communities together in supporting local projects. I welcome the efforts of all those who help to feed, clothe, and house the poorest in our society. For generations, much of this work has been done by Christians, and I am proud to support the continuation of this great philanthropic heritage in our society today.
I am a member of the Church of England, and, I suspect, a rather classic one: not that regular in attendance, and a bit vague on some of the more difficult parts of the faith.

But that doesn't mean the Church of England doesn't matter to me or people like me: it really does. I like its openness, I deeply respect its national role, and I appreciate its liturgy, and the architecture and cultural heritage of its churches.
As politicians, I hope we can draw on these values to infuse politics with a greater sense of evangelism about some of the things we are trying to change. We see our churches as vital partners. If we pull together, we can change the world and make it a better place. That to me is what a lot of the Christian message is about - and it is a confidence in our Christianity that we can all reflect on this Easter.

David Cameron puts God back into politics - By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor, The Telegraph (April 16, 2014)
Britain should be unashamedly “evangelical” about its Christian faith and actively hand churches and other faith groups a greater role in society, David Cameron has insisted.

In a declaration of his personal beliefs, he said he had experienced the “healing power” of religion in his own life and insisted that Christianity could transform the “spiritual, physical, and moral” state of Britain and even the world.

Writing in the Church Times, the Anglican newspaper, he heaped praise on the Church of England and described the UK as a “Christian country” despite saying we live in an increasingly “secular age”.

He also attacked those who demand a strict “neutrality” in public life on religious matters arguing that it would deprive Britain of a vital source of morality.

His comments amount to an olive branch to the churches in the wake of rows over issues such as welfare cuts and gay marriage. His Government has also been accused of failing to stand up for Christians.

Mr Cameron’s overt expression of allegiance to Christianity is also likely to help shore up Tory support lost to the UK Independence Party.
It suggests that the Prime Minister, who once described his own faith as being “like Magic FM in the Chilterns” – meaning that it periodically fades and reappears – has found greater strength in religion since entering office.

Bishops said his choice of words was “striking” and signalled a new willingness to espouse faith but added that many Christians would still continue to challenge some of Mr Cameron’s policies.

Listing a series of policies he said reflected Christian values, such as combating modern slavery, he said: “Greater confidence in our Christianity can also inspire a stronger belief that we can get out there and actually change people’s lives, and improve both the spiritual, physical, and moral state of our country, and even the world.”

Admitting he was probably a “rather classic” Anglican who was “vague” on some of the church’s more “difficult” doctrines, he said: “But that doesn’t mean the Church of England doesn’t matter to me or people like me: it really does.

“I like its openness, I deeply respect its national role, and I appreciate its liturgy, and the architecture and cultural heritage of its churches.

“I have felt at first hand the healing power of the Church’s pastoral care.”
The Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, Rt Rev Kieran Conry, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales’s evangelisation department, said the comments would strike a chord with many.

“I think people will be glad to see the gospel getting back into politics – or explicitly back into politics, it is there in a lot of what the Government tries to do, in looking after people."

Prof Linda Woodhead of Lancaster University, one of Britain’s leading authorities on religion in modern Britain, said: “There has been a shift recently, it is much more common and acceptable to express your faith.”

But Mr Sanderson said: “Mr Cameron needs to understand the value of religious neutrality in Government.

“If Britain becomes a nation where Christians have special privileges, then social cohesion and fairness will be at risk.

“Nor should we forget that, according to the Church of England’s own figures, only 800,000 people attended church on a Sunday in 2012 – half the number that attended in 1968. The Church of England does not have the wherewithal to do what Mr Cameron wants it to do.”

Cameron says Britain should be 'more confident about our status as a Christian country - and more evangelical about faith' - By JULIAN ROBINSON, Mail Online (April 16, 2014)
PM admits he has felt the 'healing power' of the Church
Being a Christian nation does not mean 'doing down' other religions
Britain should be 'more confident' about its status as Christian country
Defends criticism from senior clergy over Government's welfare reforms

Doing God: Why is Cameron calling himself 'evangelical'? - By Ian Dunt, (April 17, 2014)
(…) Cameron is attempting to appeal to those most outraged by same sex marriage – the most conservative element of the Church of England who could be tempted by Nigel Farage's more reactionary political offer.

At the same time Cameron tries to appeal to the more progressive elements of the church, which he has alienated with austerity and welfare reform. He dedicates extensive passages of his Church Times article to defending his decisions in language church-goers will understand.

Finally, he reiterates the broader argument – accepted by most religious people – that faith is being swept out of the public sphere by a new 'militant atheism' which insists on firm secular standards.

The appeal suggests Cameron has a religious problem, or at least that he believes he does.

He is blamed by the religious right for gay marriage, by the religious left for welfare reform and by most people of faith for the sneaking suspicion he has failed to stem the tide of secularism in British society.

The Church Times article suggests he intends to rectify that problem, but he will need to tread carefully: what appeals to one side of the church may not appeal to the other.

There is another, more substantial danger. The British public will be wary of religious rhetoric from a prime minister – especially if it seems it is being used for political advantage.

David Cameron: I am evangelical about Christian faith - By Rowena Mason (The Guardian) (April 16, 2014)
David Cameron said: 'People who advocate some sort of secular neutrality fail to grasp the consequences of that neutrality.'

David Cameron has declared himself an "evangelical" about his Christian faith as he criticised some non-believers for failing to grasp the role that religion can have in "helping people to have a moral code".
It comes after several big clashes between the coalition and the church, including a letter this week from 40 Anglican bishops and 600 church leaders calling on all political parties to tackle the causes of food poverty. Previous tensions have been caused by Cameron's decision to introduce gay marriage, and deep cuts in welfare benefits.
Traditionally, UK political leaders have been more reticent than their American counterparts about religion, with Tony Blair's former spin chief Alastair Campbell once famously proclaiming that New Labour did not "do God". However, both Blair and Gordon Brown have always professed strong religious beliefs and Cameron has been clear that he is a churchgoer. In contrast, Nick Clegg is an atheist, while Ed Miliband on a trip to Jerusalem last week set out his desire to become the first Jewish prime minister, although he caused confusion by forgetting about Benjamin Disraeli.

"I have a particular faith. I describe myself as a Jewish atheist. I'm Jewish by birth origin and it's part of who I am. I don't believe in God, but I think faith is a really important thing for a lot of people," the Labour leader said.
In a separate article for the Church Times, [Cameron] argued that some atheists and agnostics did not understand that faith could be a "guide or a helpful prod in the right direction" towards morality.

While acknowledging many non-believers have a moral code and some Christians do not, he added: "People who advocate some sort of secular neutrality fail to grasp the consequences of that neutrality, or the role that faith can play in helping people to have a moral code.

"I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people's lives."

Cameron said he was a classic member of the Church of England, "a bit vague on some of the more difficult parts of that faith", but insisted the church "really matters" to him.

He also defended the Church of England's "perceived woolliness when it comes to belief".

"I am not one for doctrinal purity, and I don't believe it is essential for evangelism about the church's role in our society or its importance. It is important – and, as I have said, I would like it to do more, not less, in terms of action to improve our society and the education of our children."

Previously, the prime minister has said his faith is "a bit like the reception for Magic FM in the Chilterns: it sort of comes and goes".
But on Wednesday Peter Tatchell, the LGBT rights campaigner, wrote to Helen Grant, the minister in charge of the issue, to urge her to extend civil partnerships to all.

"Both civil marriages and civil partnerships embody the same core values of love, commitment, loyalty and stability," he wrote. "Why does it matter if a straight couple choose a civil partnership? How does their choice undermine the marriages of the others and the authority of an institution that still enjoys majority support? Civil partnerships may be a different institution from marriage but they are, in most respects, marriage-like. So why maintain the ban on female-male civil partnerships?"

David Cameron won't win votes by calling Britain a Christian country - By Polly Toynbee (The Guardian) (April 18, 2014)
(…) 'At a time of anti-Muslim attacks, when Islamist extremism is feared for its terrorist potential, Cameron’s “Christian country” is soaked in white nationalist significance.'
David Cameron this week has been love-bombing the Church of England with a radio interview about his children's faith, a speech at an Easter reception for Christian leaders in Downing Street and an article in the Church Times.

It's mostly toe-curling stuff. Alastair Campbell never gave better advice than in warning politicians off doing God: it's horrible to behold. Sincere or not, they become as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, as did Cameron talking of "our saviour", claiming "My government has a sense of evangelism" and even that "Jesus invented the big society 2,000 years ago". John Major's "back to basics" should flash warning lights. No politician can ever be Christian enough – an elastic creed stretching from the Tea Party to Christ's anti-capitalist hippy injunction to consider the lilies of the field and never think of tomorrow.
So why God now? His core message, "This is a Christian country", dog-whistles to key voters. Ostensibly, it soothes the noisy but electorally few affronted folk in the pews angry about gay marriage, whose fury he had underestimated. For them Cameron ladled out syrupy retro-visions of the C of E of his Oxfordshire upbringing, its liturgy and heritage, his love of early morning eucharist at his children's school's church. But his "Christian country" message is really whistling to the errant flock fled to Ukip. They may never attend, but the C of E is a cultural identity marker for those sharing Nigel Farage's distaste for foreign tongues on his commuter train.

Naturally, Cameron is careful to say "this is not somehow doing down other faiths". But those who feel threatened on account of their non-Christian faith won't find Christian branding reassuring. This week, an article on this site described how the far right is using pork to persecute Jews and Muslims, as Marine Le Pen stops schools serving non-pork options in the French towns she now controls. More horrible still, members of the Flemish Vlaams Belang party reportedly stormed into a school and forced pork sausages into children's mouths.

Such abuse by the right in the name of "secularism" outrages British secularists and humanists who stand with Voltaire, ready to die for the right of anyone's beliefs, so long as they don't impose it on others. At a time of anti-Muslim attacks, when Islamist extremism is feared for its terrorist potential, Cameron's "Christian country" is soaked in white nationalist significance. He has great verbal agility in sounding eminently moderate and reasonable while planting darker ideas. (…)

Politically, using the church as a St George's flag of convenience may not fly. (…) Look at the 40 bishops' raspberry of an Easter message to Cameron, with their strong rebuke against the "national crisis" of hunger so much worsened by his welfare policies. They know because their churches house the food banks used by almost a million people.

Even the Rev Steve Chalke has taken up arms, though his Christian organisation runs many Gove-approved academies and contracted-out social services. He was incandescent at Cameron's refusal to let a girl at one of his schools stay in the UK just a few months longer to take her A-levels. "The Bible is clear: it is our God-given responsibility to take care of the widow, the fatherless and the refugee," he said. Which is why it's unwise for politicians to tangle with God.
The WIN/Gallup International survey finds the UK among the least religious: only a third say religion plays a positive role. Asked in the 2011 census "What is your religion?", 59% said Christian – surprisingly few as most people saw it as a question of culture rather than belief. Asked by YouGov more specifically, "Are you religious?", only 29% said yes and 65% said no.

That's good news for us humanists (I am vice-president of the British Humanist Association). Religion imposed on the rest of us is profoundly resented by the great majority. Take schools, where a third are under religious control. They take many fewer free-school-meals pupils and pews near good C of E schools swell unnaturally with new parents. Selection makes them popular, yet even so a majority want them abolished.

Or this: Lord Falconer's bill on assisted dying comes to the Lords in June, but it's almost certain to be killed off again by the bishops and the religious lobby, despite overwhelming public support over many years. The right to die when we choose is the last great individual freedom yet to be won. Every year thousands of people approach death through a torture chamber when they would prefer to die in peace at their own right time. This cruelty is ordained not by a "Christian country" but by a religious grip on parliament unrepresentative of the people.

Like all humanity, the religious are both good and bad. The C of E is good on food banks, bad on sex and death. Faith makes people no more virtuous, but nor do rationalists claim any moral superiority. Pogroms, inquisitions, jihadist terror and religious massacres can be matched death for death with the secular horrors of Pol Pot, Hitler or Stalin. The danger is where absolute belief in universal truths, religious or secular, permits no doubt. Politicians do well to stay clear of the realm of revealed truth. Cameron will win back few voters by evangelising for Britain as a "Christian country", while antagonising many.

Archbishop of Canterbury likens foodbanks to suffering in Syria - By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor, The Telegraph (April 21, 2014)
Church leaders renewed their stand-off with the Coalition over hunger in Britain using Easter sermons to speak of poverty and destitution, as one bishop claimed Government cuts were having “sinful consequences”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby singled out the experiences of people turning to food banks in the UK as an example of suffering in the world, alongside the crises in Syria and Ukraine.

He also said those who quietly man food banks were making a more powerful statement of the Christian message than figures such as himself who “shout” about religion on a national stage.
Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, also singled the issue out, speaking of those in Britain and elsewhere who feel “excluded from the fruits of the Earth”.

The new Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, highlighted the demand for food banks in a sermon on the theme of fear.

Meanwhile the Bishop of Truro, Rt Rev Tim Thornton, criticised Government cuts directly, saying they were having “sinful consequences”.


Cartoon by Steve Bell
Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell on Prime Minister David Cameron:
"There's a terrible, frightening lack of substance about Cameron. You can listen to him for an hour - honestly, I don't know what he's about. He loves his family. It's all so trite. You know, he's against wrongdoing. There's nothing really there. That's the sort of sense I get with him. There's nothing much in there. So a jellyfish is quite a useful way of getting it across."