Lord Carey attacks PM over Christian 'support'

Lord Carey Lord Carey says many Christians doubt the sincerity of David Cameron's comments over their rights

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The former archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has accused David Cameron of making Christians feel marginalised.

He said it was a "bit rich" for the prime minister to tell religious leaders to oppose secularisation.

This follows comments made by the PM at a pre-Easter Downing Street reception for faith leaders.

A Downing Street spokesman rejected the criticism, saying Mr Cameron valued "the profound contribution" Christianity had made to UK life.

But Lord Carey wrote in the Daily Mail that the government seemed to be "aiding and abetting" aggressive secularisation.

He also said Mr Cameron had done more than any other recent political leader to increase Christian anxieties.

Many Christians doubted the sincerity of Mr Cameron's support of Christians' right to practise their faith, he said.

Start Quote

The danger I believe that the government is courting with its approach both to marriage and religious freedom is the alienation of a large minority of people who, only a few years ago, would have been considered pillars of society”

End Quote Lord Carey

Lord Carey said: "I like David Cameron and believe he is genuinely sincere in his desire to make Britain a generous nation where we care for one another and where people of faith may exercise their beliefs fully.

"But 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.

"At his pre-Easter Downing Street reception for faith leaders, he said that he supported Christians' right to practise their faith. Yet many Christians doubt his sincerity."

Lord Carey also that said a recent ComRes poll suggested "more than two-thirds of Christians feel that they are part of a 'persecuted minority'".

"Their fears may be exaggerated because few in the UK are actually persecuted, but the prime minister has done more than any other recent political leader to feed these anxieties."

He said that Mr Cameron "seems to have forgotten in spite of his oft-repeated support for the right of Christians to wear the cross, that lawyers acting for the coalition argued only months ago in the Strasbourg court that those sacked for wearing a cross against their employer's wishes should simply get another job".

'Profound contribution'

And Lord Carey spoke of being "very suspicious" that behind plans for gay marriage "there lurks an aggressive secularist and relativist approach towards an institution that has glued society".

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Lord Carey has no right to insist that his discriminatory and intolerant views should prevail over those of the public and Parliament”

End Quote Keith Porteous Wood, National Secular Society

"The danger I believe that the government is courting with its approach both to marriage and religious freedom is the alienation of a large minority of people who, only a few years ago, would have been considered pillars of society."

However, a Downing Street spokesman rejected the criticism, saying: "Christianity plays a vital part in the Big Society, from the many brilliant church schools to the huge number of charitable causes based in churches across the country.

"The prime minister values the profound contribution that Christianity has made and continues to make to the country, which is why he strongly backs it."

Desmond Swayne, a former Parliamentary aide to David Cameron, told BBC News that he was shocked to read Lord Carey's remarks.

"I was almost gobsmacked because I regard myself as a bible-believing Christian and my view is that the government couldn't have been more forthright in defending the interests and practices of Christians."

On the issue of gay marriage, Desmond Swayne said the government has done all it could "to take account of the objections of the Church of England and other churches which are against this development."

He added: "We've produced a package which maximises the freedom available to the churches - those that don't want to touch it, won't have to."

'Intolerant views'

The National Secular Society, meanwhile, urged the prime minister to "ignore Lord Carey's theocratic and anti-democratic blustering".

"Nothing in the proposed same-sex marriage laws require Christians to conduct or partake in same-sex marriage, and Lord Carey has no right to insist that his discriminatory and intolerant views should prevail over those of the public and Parliament," executive director Keith Porteous Wood said.

Christians were "far from being marginalised in this country", he added.

He said the UK was "the only country in the world to give bishops the right to sit in its Parliament" despite "precipitously declining support, as shown by the congregations declining and ageing for many decades".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    reap and ye shall sow, lord carey. your treatment of women and gay people returns to haunt you. another religious hypocrite

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Something I have noticed about religion, is that the more tolerant it becomes,the less of a following it has. I think this says something about the type of people who call themselves religious.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    This comments seem to come from a radical. From a country where the Queen is still head of the church, and bishops sit in the house of lords, every thing seems to point to too much Church influence in society, not too little. Also, secularisation of society, means freedom, for everyone, both religious and non-religious. Its about time religious people respect the right of those without religion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    I find it hard to listen to any man who spouts about Gays while wearing a frock!

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    You see Mr Carey, we live in one of the worlds most progressive and modern nations where through the sacrifices of our ancestors through time we have the benefits of freedom of speech and freedom of thought. Now if someone were to try to tell us what we can say and what we can think that would be terribly old fashioned of them wouldn't it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    As a committed Christian the people I feel most marginalized by are individuals like Lord Carey. Why he feels the need for such a self indulged rant to the mail is beyond me. It completely undermines the sensitive approach of Justin Welby so far.

    At Easter time I think Lord Carey needs to go back and read his Gospel, certain aspect of ἀγάπη which for all his titles he seems to have missed!

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    One third of the House of Lords seats are given over to the Church of England, who have the power to overrule any government law - the Queen as head of the Church likewise retains the right under constitution to do the same. CoE does mighty well with funding too - as in its schools and buildings.

    Far from marginalised the CoE's influence is way too much in a modern secular society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Nice to see that the government thinks that the Christian church is only there for things that the government fails at like schooling and charities.
    Great thinking guys........

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Every single religion began with a divine revelation at the core of which was simply compassion and love. What we have now are a multitude of outdated institutions devoted to bizarre rituals and man-made beliefs. I do not believe a Supreme Divine Being is in the least bit interested in how individuals express devotion & the most fundamental emotions and engage in benign social loving relationships

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Good on you Lord Carey. Politicians, especially those at the top, need to be reminded of the dangers of living in a moral vacuum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Scientists have the right to impose their views on the rest of us.

    And scientists see a human being as a walking-meat-laptop machine. With no intrinsic value.

    Our society is moving in the direction of considering humans to being machines, flawed machines - this is the direction of science.

    Hundreds of years ago science was indeed an open inquiry, now more a religion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    I'm a committed atheist but I have some sympathy with Christians in the UK. There's a lot of hyprocrisy around when supposedly tolerant and politically correct people think it's acceptable to dismiss and denigrate Christian beliefs in ways they would never dream of doing to other faiths (eg. criticise someone who is Jewish and you're anti-Semitic, criticise a Christian and they're fair game?)

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    36 G_F_R
    Try going to Church as my wife & I did in Keighley. Knock on the door to get in then the door locked during services. Always at the same time, during communion a fusillade of fireworks - every Sunday. Local Quaker meeting had 5 (FIVE) fireworks through the letter box. I could go on but as the police did want to be accused of harassing muslims, nothing was done & no action on grooming.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Religions SHOULD be marginalised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    "Lord Carey, you can't blame the government for the growth of rationality."

    Well said. I am finding the intervention of this crew in the political world very tiresome.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    The church is supposed to be the bride of Christ. Redefining marriage is therefore a direct attack on the church, redefining the meaning of its existence. Calling Christians bigots because they do not agree with a secular mindset just illustrates where the bigotry actually lies. Christianity is for those who would follow Christ, not those who want a heavenly ticket on their own terms.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    I thinks its about time to let people decide for themselves, instead of being told what to think by religious leaders and politicians. If you dont like Muslims or Christians, Blacks or Whites, Gays or whatever, its your choice - and not anyone else. You cant change a way an individual thinks by ramming a different philosophy/lifestyle down their throats..

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Organised religion lost its way years ago. It is akin to big business, full of career chasers. Faith is the important thing, not religion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Im not religious in any form but I do believe that our religious culture is being wiped out by other cultures,Scotland has manage to keep there idenity yet the patch in the middle hasnt&thats ashame.Everyone has a right to believe in whatever they choose,but if you come to a country respect that culture not to bring yours along,thats the point of intergrating,thats why here its falling apart here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    The Anglican Church as a guaranteed place in the legislature through the presence of its Bishops and through the Queen as Head of the Church,. No other faith and ideology has a guaranteed place in Patliament. How can Carey argue that this indicates marginalisation?


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