UK Prime Minister David Cameron has courted controversy with his recent comments when he declared that the United Kingdom was a “Christian Country.” David Cameron made the comments in the run-up to Easter.
However, many public figures have come together to say that they feel the comments could cause alienation. 50 high profile people signed a letter, which was published in the Daily Telegraph on April 20th. Among those signing the letter were authors Sir Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman, TV presenter Dan Snow and journalist Polly Toynbee.
In the letter, it was stated that numerous surveys had showed that the majority of people in Britain did not consider themselves Christian. It was also noted that Britain had been shaped for the better by many pre-Christian, non-Christian, and post-Christian forces, and that Britain was a mainly non-religious society.
Moreover, some argued that claiming Britain was a Christian society could cause alienation and fuel division among society as well as fuel sectarian debates, which the authors of the letter declared needless.
The signatories said that they objected to the Prime Minister’s characterization of Britain being a Christian country. Because Britain is a multicultural society, they argued that the comments could be seen as divisive.
The letter claims, “it is right to recognise the contribution made by many Christians to social action, it is wrong to try to exceptionalise their contribution when it is equalled by British people of different beliefs.”
Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner, has also spoken out in objection to the comments telling BBC Radio Four that the comments were “inaccurate.”
However, former Home Secretary Jack Straw has spoken out in support of the comments by David Cameron. When interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program, Jack Straw stated he did not agree with the argument set out by the signatories of the letter.
Straw is known for his Christian faith and argued that the UK has a clear set of values and that some of them are Christian based. He went on to say that these values “permeate our sense of citizenship.”
In his Easter speech, David Cameron said that Easter was not a time for just Christians to reflect but also for the country as a whole to reflect on the good work that Christians do.