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

Related Stories

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".

Start Quote

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".


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 330.

    The church is nothing but an establishment for the Christian religion and should keep it's nose out of politics.

    Governments are nothing but an establishment for the administration of any country and should keep it's nose out of religion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    Listening to the likes of Carey underlines how bigoted, prejudiced and lacking in any humanity some of these religious leaders are. The idea the religious minority are being persecuted is a joke given the privileges religion maintains in our society.

    I think the reality is their arguments have nothing to do with any true religious belief but are an attempt to protect their power base.

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    Lord Carey's comments strengthen the argument for a secular state. A representative of our official religion has a disproportionally influential voice in this debate.
    To quote Peter Tatchell, if Lord Carey "doesn't believe in gay marriage then he shouldn't marry a gay". Surely what everyone else does is up to them.

  • Comment number 327.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    Nothing against christians or any religion as such but why try and force your beliefs on everyone else. We are a democratic society and MPs and government whether I agree with them or not have the right to legislate. Religious people should shut up about how persecuted they feel and instead go help the truly persecuted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    David Cameron has certainly marginalised some Christians. By tacking on the absurd and pointless 'quadruple lock' to the equal marriage legislation, preventing the Church of England from performing same-gender marriages (without further legislation) even if it later decides it wants to, he marginalised the many pro-equality Anglicans - some of them gay or bisexual themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    The country of the ANTICHRIST
    The more you disbelieve the sadder i feel, when the birds are pecking your flesh and you beg to god, do not expect his sympathy. Keep bad mouthing satan's, your time is coming-at the speed of christ....... BAM.
    War+rumours of war-check
    Beasts of the sea-check
    Beasts of the land-check

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    I am going to create man and woman with original sin,
    Then I am going to impregnate a woman with myself as her child, so that I can be born,
    Once alive, I will kill myself as a sacrifice to myself,
    To save you from the sin I originally condemned you with.

    Ta dah!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    H L Mencken - "We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    There is no such thing as 'aggressive secularisation'; either there is secularisation or there is not. Personally, I'm all for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    I hate commenting on Religion(s), but those who are steadfastly committed to their beliefs should be left alone to "Worship" as they like.
    The CofE have no "Laws" and therefore do not seek to inflict demands on the rest of us. Other Religions can have their Laws (eg. Sharia) but they had better keep them at home - amongst their own kind. If they protest, they should SHUT UP and then SHIP OUT.

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    With all due respect to Lord Carey, it is the christian authorities who are marginalising christians. By their adherence to archaic rules and traditions and their refusal to accept and embrace the evolution of society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    Carey mistakes persecution for the rejection of religion (including Christianity) by millions in the UK and his diminishing power to tell us all what to do based on his beliefs (House of Lords aside). I have a right to live my life free of religion and free of those who would like to impose their beliefs on me. That is true religious freedom: not persecution. Carey needs to consult a dictionary!

  • rate this

    Comment number 317.

    I think the Christian Church has done a lot in the past (besides other things) of GOOD, in keeping society & family together. Today, it is totally different the way we live and the church is not believed in the same way, so does not have this power anymore. I still believe though that Homosexuals (Gays) should not marry in Church, but keep the system of agreement we have the Civil Ceremony.

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    Christians feel persecuted because of a change in the law designed to prevent persecution of gays? This is the sort of reason people are turning away from the Church.

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    There can be no rational debate about granting power to believers in mythology. However, I would point out that the C of E is exempted from paying tax on the basis that it is registered as a charity. It may solve a few of our financial problems if this incredibly rich, landowning religion were made to pay a tax contribution, maybe to benefit the poor, not just the (maybe not so poor) Christians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    An important point is missed here. George Carey has expressed his views of Christianity (as the Bible teaches). People have the freedom to heed his advice and to change or to ignore it. When Jesus was on Earth many people knew who he is and chose not to follow him.
    The essence of Christianity is that it teaches "love one another" and to not judge others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.


    right to practise their faith
    right to discriminate

    No-one has the right to discriminate against any minority. You can't refuse to see patients, rent rooms, perform your role to an employer or break uniform laws.

    None of this is discrimination, unless the police discriminate against a criminals right to break the law

    He wants to dominate non-believers

  • rate this

    Comment number 312.

    I'd rather like the Church to speak up for Christianity and particularly marriage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.


    You should read a few history books and learn just how destructive religious wars have been over the centuries. Quotes from kings and princes like -"I would rather turn this land into a desert than rule over heretics." Are the rule, not the exceptions.


Page 35 of 51


More UK stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.