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 290.

    If being no longer able to dictate the sexuality of those who do not share their beliefs means being marginalised, then Christians had better get used to their new lack of power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    Why do these people think that their belief in a mythical sky-god is so important?
    Why do they think that other people being given freedoms in any way impinges in their own right to believe in what they want?
    Why do they think that everyone has to abide by the rules of *their* religion? (No one expects them to abide by the rules of Islam or Judaism)
    These are the questions I ask myself daily.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    No stories for children about Easter on CBBC & CBeebies this year. Not good: some of the most influential atheist thinkers agree they want their children told Bible stories because those stories are vital to understanding British & World culture & history. The BBC robs our children when not gifting them to our children. Debates about gay marriage & women bishops are a selfish, adult, distraction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    79. QE "In terms of human anthropology [...] same-sex marriage is a complete nonsense."

    Score -17 and counting...!

    So which part of this do people disagree with? Anthropologists study societies across the world and throughout history and find that marriage is about rearing children. Should they lie about their conclusions in order to humour gay-rights activists?

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    "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."

    This man is clearly deluded on many fronts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    240. DeeplyConcerned

    I totally disagree, and if you actually talk to some Christians you'd see how wrong your assumption is.

    The consensus among Christians today is that Christianity and science go together hand in hand and that Christianity helps us to have a better understanding of science.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    Just picking comments from so many posts ,like Christianity living in the past, antiquated beliefs, religion has nothing to do with homosexuality, gay marriages aren't anti-religion, 40% non Christian, try kicking a Koran, or bad mouthing Mohammed.
    If Christianity dies, the void must be filled, if you think you live in the past now, try being a homosexual in Iran,Iraq, Saudi Arabia, or a female !

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    Its not the place of the PM to promote religion of any type. If people want to believe in bizzare practices then its up to them but its not the place of elected goverment to force them on the rest of us .

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    Synycom - about that praying - do let us all know how that works out eh, and would 230 Guitarman let us know how it goes from his end?

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    231. Man from the Midlands
    "I think almost all Christians in the UK now feel persecuted against. ... it's very hypocritical of David Cameron to encourage the Church to speak out against secular society when he's doing things like legalizing gay marriage"

    Is the persecution felt by xtians any different to the persecution felt by gays from xtians and can you spot the irony?

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    Couldn't agree more 256 Colin Smith. We are told we should respect religious belief why? I would't respect an adult who believed in Santa Claus and thats pretty much what religion is. I have more respect for vegans who believe in something and stick to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    As someone who is always getting kicked off of this forum for my belief in God and Jesus, finally here is a post for christians who have true faith. It is easy to take what is not urs and mold it into something it is not, it is harder to leave it as is and understand it for what it was for. Overcome your weakness, be strong and the reward will be yours. Hope to see you soon Jesus,i will not fail u

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    Lord Carey is entitled to his views and I think he has some cause. Taking marriage as an issue, whatever the rights or wrongs: the institution as it stood has been around for three thousand years or more and Cameron has kicked it into touch in a matter of months including a rigged "consultation". He didn't even have the guts to put it in his last manifesto.

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    Christians have had the run of the place since Constantine; it's about time they were marginalised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    Message to all the Athiests out there, including me!

    If Christianity had not taken the world out of barbarism and slavery we would probably still be living in the dark ages of feudal tribes and constant war. For that I thank those devout and religous persons of the bible for bringing compassion and love to a world that had none.

    So lets give them a break?

  • Comment number 275.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    There seems to be a lot of focus on Christians not being allowed to wear a cross at work. I don't see why that's a problem. Wearing a cross isn't a requirement of Christianity, and most jobs have some sort of dress code that mean you can't wear certain inappropriate things. What's appropriate dress when representing your employer is for them to decide, not you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    @ 214. - temporarily out of order
    But forty percent of us in the UK are not christian.

    Speak for the English if you will - the majority of people in areas of Welsh Wales have NO religion.

    And we're almost as good at rugby as 'reason'!

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    We are now, ultimately, a secular society with numerous religious organisations still on the fringes debating who's god is the real one. I was raised a Christian i.e I was Christened, went to a C of E school, prayed in church and assemblies, grew up, matured, learned about science and evolution and finely saw sense. Lord Carey should accept that many people have done the same.

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    The former arch bishop seems to be lamenting the influence the church had in our historic past. Gone are the days of being able to scare the living daylights out of the populace with fire and brimstone. People are a bit better informed these days and the power that the likes of himself welded are a thing of the past.

    I would advise him to keep his head below the parapet least it get blown off.


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