Lord Carey obsessed with gay sex, says clergyman

Former archbishop's attack on 'anti-Christian' Cameron government is widely criticised

Faith groups and secularists responded furiously yesterday to accusations by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, that David Cameron was marginalising Christians and running an "aggressively secular" government.

Lord Carey claimed that, though he liked David Cameron, "it was a bit rich to hear that the Prime Minister has told religious leaders that they should 'stand up and oppose aggressive secularisation' when it seems that his Government is aiding and abetting this aggression every step of the way". Lord Carey, writing in the Daily Mail, also said he was "very suspicious" that behind plans for gay marriage "there lurks an aggressive secularist and relativist approach towards an institution that has glued society".

The Church of England quickly distanced itself from the comments yesterday, suggesting that Lord Carey was speaking for himself and not the wider church. Giles Fraser, former Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral, said: "I think it's a very peculiar Easter message. I think Lord Carey is obsessed by gay sex and really ought to get over it. I also think that saying that Christians in Britain are persecuted is an insult to those Christians around the world who really are."

Steve Chalke, a Baptist minister, posted on Twitter: "The only way government has 'discriminated' against Christ is by targeting the poor and vulnerable whom Jesus calls us to protect." But Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden, defended Lord Carey's wider point, saying: "I think what he actually said has been exaggerated, but at the core of the piece was a serious point. There is a crisis for us in terms of the way politicians and government undermine what we're about as a church."

The squabble comes ahead of an Easter broadcast from the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, who will say that the Church of England must show it can manage disagreement "gracefully" over issues such as women bishops and gay marriage. Justin Welby will say in an Easter broadcast on Premier Christian Radio today that the Church must show that its members can hold different views but still remain "gracefully and deeply committed to each other" before it can be a "sign to the world" of peace and reconciliation.

Secularists were quick to rebut Lord Carey's assertions that the Government was anti-church. Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society said: "I do actually think Lord Carey has a persecution complex. The idea is ridiculous when David Cameron is attacking secularists for trying to stop prayers before council meetings. The non-religious appear to be the only members of the country that it's seen to be reasonable to discriminate against."

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said: "Lord Carey's hyperbolic interventions on this issue are becoming as ludicrous as they are predictable. His increasingly desperate attempt to work up a victim narrative where Christians are marginalised and persecuted has no basis in reality. Time and again the vast majority of the claims of discrimination against Christians that have been tested in the courts have been assessed by impartial judges and found baseless."

A No 10 spokesman said: "The Prime Minister values the profound contribution that Christianity continues to make to the country, which is why he strongly backs it."

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