The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has said she believes Christianity should be celebrated and that it has an important role in making Britain a country that works for everyone.
Speaking at Downing Street
reception for religious leaders on Shrove Tuesday, she explained how
growing up in a vicarage shaped her upbringing as she witnessed
first-hand the “many sacrifices involved and the hard work that so many
of you do.”
Among those present were the Archbishop of
Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and the Bishop of London, Richard
Chartres, who is standing down after more than 20 years.
May’s anecdotal reference to her own religious background, if brief, is
in contrast to the reluctance of some recent occupants of Number 10 to
broach the subject of religion. Tony Blair’s Director of Communications,
Alistair Campbell, once famously remarked: “We don’t do God.”
Prime Minister said: “It is right that we should celebrate the role of
Christianity in our country. We have a very strong tradition in this
country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech, and our Christian
heritage is something we can all be proud of. We must continue to ensure
that people feel able to speak about their faith, and that absolutely
includes their faith in Christ.”
She added that: “I also believe
that Christianity has an important role to play in making Britain a
country that works for everyone." While the Church and Government will
not always agree, Mrs May said there are many areas where they can work
One of these is in addressing the persecution of
Christians and religious minorities around the world. Millions of
Christians in Africa and the Middle East have been forced to flee their
homes and there is a pattern of rising religious intolerance across the
Indian sub-continent according to Open Doors, a charity that monitors
religiously motivated violence and discrimination.
“It is hard to
comprehend that today people are still being attacked and murdered
because of their Christianity. We must reaffirm our determination to
stand up for the freedom of people of all religions to practice their
beliefs in peace and safety,” the Prime Minister said.
She added that she hoped to take further measures as a Government to support this.
in a concluding thought, Mrs May said: “In the weeks ahead, as we look
beyond Ash Wednesday to Easter, let us draw confidence in our Christian
faith. And let us renew our determination to work together in the
service of others.”