News / Europe

Cameron Criticized for Calling UK 'Christian Country'

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron during a holiday on the Spanish Canary island of Lanzarote, April 13, 2014.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron during a holiday on the Spanish Canary island of Lanzarote, April 13, 2014.
A group of scientists, academics and prominent writers accused British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday of stoking sectarian divisions through his repeated description of Britain as a "Christian country".

The public figures, including authors Philip Pullman and Terry Pratchett, said they respected the Conservative leader's own religious beliefs, which he has addressed in a series of statements.

But they took issue with his characterization of Britain saying, in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, the country was actually a "plural society" of largely "non-religious" people.

"To constantly claim otherwise fosters alienation and division in our society," said the 55 members of the group that also included Nobel prize winning scientist John Sulston.

"It needlessly fuels enervating sectarian debates that are by and large absent from the lives of most British people, who do not want religions or religious identities to be actively prioritized by their elected government," the letter added.

The 2011 census showed Christianity was the largest religion in England and Wales but the number of people who described themselves as Christian had fallen from almost 72 percent in 2001 to just over 59 percent, or 33.2 million people. About 14 million people said they had no religion.

Cameron told an Easter reception this month he was "proud to be a Christian myself and to have my children at a church school".

In an article in the Church Times last week, he described himself as "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".

Britain, he added, should be more confident about its status as a Christian country and more evangelical.

Cameron's comments follow a period of tension between the Church of England and the Conservative party, the major partner in Britain's coalition government that faces a parliamentary election next year.

Church leaders have joined forces to criticize welfare reforms and the rising use of free food banks across Britain.

Cameron also angered some Christians - and caused deep splits in the Conservative party - as he drove new legislation through parliament to allow same-sex marriages in Britain.

A spokeswoman for Cameron said the prime minister's view that Britain should not be afraid to call itself a Christian country did not mean he felt it was wrong to have another faith, or no faith.

"He has said on many occasions that he is incredibly proud that Britain is home to many different faith communities, who do so much to make the UK a stronger country," she said.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
April 23, 2014 1:39 AM
Forgive my ignorance, but isn't the UK a group of countries?
The UK itself isn't a country alone... so calling it a "Christian country" is kind of like calling the United States a "Christian continent."
Religious comments aside, it simply doesn't make sense.

by: Jacob from: India
April 22, 2014 11:44 PM
Years ago when I was in America, it was quite common to hear the expression "our Judeo-Christian heritage." Where did it come from if not (primarily) the UK? American culture sprang from British roots primarily. Other former colonies in Asia and Africa did not in general have this same deep-rooted Christian heritage. Thus, many modern notions about human rights and dignity really lack roots in those former colonies and fit in now as just "modern versus traditional." Without a doubt, the fundamental mindset of the West is Christian, which is why the "colonies" had such different ideas about human rights and human dignity. It is true that today, especially in the area of sexuality, there is a tendency to drift away from a traditional Christian attitude, but this is only one area of the culture. Moreover, even if people do not bother to go to church so often, most still pray when the going gets tough.

by: Peter from: Basingstoke
April 22, 2014 3:37 PM
Prime Minister is right. United Kingdom IS a Christian Country!
Should somebody not like it there is one fundamental law here like in Australia - if you do not like country LEAVE IT!

by: Joan Camara from: USA
April 21, 2014 9:44 PM
So sad that Britian HAS BEEN turning their back on they have these huge rats invading the whole country.......they got people murdering each other more than ever before...they got so many floods...and so many storms....what part do you not get??? Every day, I see news about the evil thats going on leave God...and you'll get stories like this almost every day....Flooding ruins Christmas for thousands: Operations launched to evacuate residents from their homes across South East England while 43,000 properties may remain without power until the end of the week
More floods and winds of up to 100mph are expected across the country over the next two days
Thousands had to be evacuated following flooding and others have faced widespread power failures
On Christmas night, 37,000 houses were without power and 1,000 properties were flooded.

KEEP TURNING YOUR BACK ON YOUR CREATOR!! Keep bringing in the muslims and the homosexuals into your courts and your schools. Suffer the consequences....Britain and Australia are neck to neck on who can hate God the worst...and are suffering for it!! I see America coming in a fast third place.....I'm sooo angry...and hurt....britian and australia used to be beautiful countries....I'll still pray for all these to turn from their wickedness...and embrace the God of the bible!

by: Bret from: France
April 21, 2014 8:59 PM
first of all... the "UK" is no longer the UK...
Second, whatever it calls itself, it ceased to be Christian long ago... its much more Muslim than Christian...!!!

by: Sylvester Ogbolu-Otutu from: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
April 21, 2014 12:33 PM
The Prime Minister of the UK is entirely correct. Great Britain is an ancient Christian country. Anyone in doubt should go and read up on their history. As a matter of fact, the UK needs to be re-Christianized, so that the Christian roots of the country can be re-established and revived. England is the patronage of Saint George. Scotland is the patronage of Saint Andrew. Ireland (and its northern part) is the patronage of Saint Patrick. The Royal Court is at the Palace of Saint James.

The apostolic heritage of the country is so evident. The mere fact that the UK is now a multicultural domain on account of liberal democracy and immigration from non-Christian lands should not in any way diminish from its enduring Christian ethos. We support efforts by Rt. Hon. David Cameron to stress that the UK is a Christian country, and may God bless him. With so much idolatry in the world today, Christianity needs new champions.
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
April 21, 2014 6:53 PM
Well spoken Sylvester, well spoken...

by: meanbill from: USA
April 21, 2014 11:47 AM
I'm quite sure, that Prime Minister Cameron will survive "their" opinions..
The British people always quote say it; "God save the Queen" or "God save the King" and I don't believe they'll ever say; "Allah save the Queen" or "Allah save the King" or do I believe they'll refer to Buddha, or any other divinity to save the Queen or King of England... The majority of the British people chose their religion, and the church of England is Christian, isn't it? -- ISN'T IT?
In Response

by: Well Wisher from: USA
April 22, 2014 10:31 AM
MeanBill, to point the obvious, 'Allah' is the arabic word for 'God'. Hence, the sentence in arabic would literally be "Allah save the Queen/King".


by: Honor from: USA
April 21, 2014 11:25 AM
Cameron should read the bible often before he start talking for oher peuple. True christian don't allow sodomy, like his about to pass to law for homosexual . To you mr pm . No homosexual will inherit the kingdom of God , the bible says so. And not every one calling lord will enter that kingdom.
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
April 21, 2014 1:41 PM
aha ! got it clearly that "no homosexual will inherited the kingdom of God" The bible says so
How about the incestuous according to the same bible and religion ?
1) Moses' father, Amram married his paternal aunt Jochebed
2) Abraham's wife Sarah is his half sister on his father's side
3) Abraham's brother, nahor married his niece Milca
4) Judah having some fun with his daughter-in-law Tamar (the excuse ? she is veiled)
And the best of it is:
Sodom & Gomorrah were destroyed presumably for the sins of "homosexuality" (by some scholars' mistranslation) but God is ok with Lot's daughters sharing the same bed with him and having two beautiful babies..
Throw the first stone ..I dare you what Lord Jesus would have said. I rather follow the example of Jesus' compassion than a dusty book and a whole bunch of hateful bunch of holier than thou

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs