THE Prime Minister said last week that there was “a Christian fightback” taking place, but pleaded with Churches not to “fall out” with the Government over gay marriage.
Speaking at a reception for church leaders at Downing Street on Tuesday of last week, Mr Cameron said that evidence for the fightback included the “enormous reception” that greeted the Pope’s visit to the UK (News, 17 September 2010); the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible (News, 23 December 2011); the support for the saying of prayers at local council meetings (News, 17 February); and “the very strong stance that I’ve taken, and others have taken, in terms of the right to wear a crucifix” (News, 16 March).
Mr Cameron said that the values of Christianity were “the values that we need. . . We’re always telling our children to be tolerant. . . but is there a better way of explaining tolerance than saying, ‘Do to others as you would be done by’? So 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.”
He issued a plea to the church leaders that “we don’t fall out too much over the issue of gay marriage.” He sought to reassure them, as did the Home Secretary, Theresa May, last month (News, 23 March), that, if gay civil marriage came into law, “it will change what happens in a registry office; it will not change what happens in a church.”
Mr Cameron also expressed concern about Christians in the Middle East. Countries that were “newly democratising” needed to be persuaded “not to persecute minorities, and to respect Christians”.
He concluded by speaking about the Big Society. He said that “faith-based organisations” should be encouraged to solve social problems. The Big Society was “the biggest possible opportunity for churches up and down the country to have a real social mission, as well as having a moral, religious, and a spiritual mission”.
Mr Cameron’s Easter message, published on the Tuesday of Holy Week, described Jesus as “a man of incomparable compassion, generosity, grace, humility, and love”. Such values “make our country what it is — a place which is tolerant, generous, and caring”.