Britain should be “confident” and “evangelical” about its status as a Christian country, even in an increasingly secular age, David Cameron has said.
In an article for the Church Times, the Prime Minister said Christians “make a difference to people’s lives” and said that churches were “vital partners”. His comments are likely to be seen as an appeal to churchgoers and Anglican leaders who have been highly critical of government reforms.
“I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people’s lives,” he wrote.
He added: “Being more confident about our status as a Christian country does not somehow involve doing down other faiths or passing judgement on those with no faith at all. Many people tell me it is easier to be Jewish or Muslim in Britain than in a secular country precisely because the tolerance that Christianity demands of our society provides greater space for other religious faiths, too.”
Mr Cameron went on to describe himself as a “rather classic” member of the Church of England, “not that regular in attendance, and a bit vague on some of the more difficult parts of the faith”.
Perhaps in an oblique reference to the death of his son Ivan, he added: “I have felt at first hand the healing power of the church’s pastoral care.”
Mr Cameron’s willingness to talk about his religion contrasts with the line taken by Tony Blair, whose communications director Alastair Campbell famously said: “We don’t do God.”
Relations between the Church of England and the Tory party have been strained recently, with church leaders critical of the Coalition’s welfare reforms and the increasing numbers of people forced to resort to food banks.
However, Mr Cameron suggested in his article that he and the church have the same aim. He wrote: “I welcome the debate with church leaders and faith communities about some of these issues, because in the end I think we all believe in many of the same principles.”