At a special Easter reception in Downing Street yesterday, the Prime Minister sought to reassure Christian supporters by affirming his personal admiration for biblical values.
Commenting that he could benefit from some ‘spiritual help’ after a turbulent couple of weeks, Mr Cameron jokingly suggested that his guests might pray for him, before launching into a series of his most strongly worded statements to date on behalf of Christian beliefs and values.
Speaking to a congregation of church leaders, Mr Cameron said, ‘I think that Christian teaching can help us to have the strong values that we need as a country and we should be celebrating that and shouting about that. I think there is something of a Christian fightback going on in Britain and I think that’s a thoroughly good thing.’
The comments, which have been read as a thinly veiled reference to recent legal decisions on council prayer and the wearing of religious symbols, recall once again the willingness of senior Conservatives to ride roughshod over decisions made by the judiciary. Though admitting that Christianity was not a prerequisite to holding strong moral values, the Prime Minister added, ‘But the point I always make is that it helps.’
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘What is most shocking about David Cameron’s recent actions is not just his decision to publicly ‘do God’ and engage further with religious leaders, a move which runs contrary to popular opinion, with two-thirds of the population believing religious leaders should stay out of government decision making, but that he utilised this event to pander further to Christianity’s radical fringe.’
Mr Copson continued: ‘The most likely interpretation of the Prime Minister’s speech is that he fears his outspoken support for equal marriage has lost him votes amongst the Church’s more socially conservative elements. Nevertheless, Mr Cameron’s tendency to run to religion when threatened is profoundly worrying.’
Pavan Dhaliwal, BHA’s Head of Public Affairs, concurred: ‘UK evangelicals have long peddled the twin mistruths of secular persecution and ‘Christian Britain’. It is discouraging in the extreme to see the Prime Minister apparently buying into these myths in what one can only hope is a misguided attempt to win support. It is particularly infuriating to hear him reinforce the lazy assumption that religious followers are more moral citizens, despite clear and readily available evidence to the contrary.’
For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0773 843 5059.
For accurate statistics on the spread and nature of religious and non-religious belief in the UK, click here
For the BHA’s reaction to similar comments made by David Cameron in the past, click here
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.