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.
    Reuters
    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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    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 God...now 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 there...you 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.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2529138/Tis-NOT-season-jolly-thousands-Britons-flooded-left-without-power-storms-batter-UK-Many-homes-without-electricity-Boxing-Day.html?

    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".

    Peace.

    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 ..is 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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora