Is the UK a Christian country?

I am asking you, my readers, to help answer this question of our times.

I think the Prime Minister meant when he said we are a Christian country that we have a Christian past when Christianity was the religion of the many. We still have an established Christian Church in England. Our constitution includes Bishops in the Lords, the Queen as Head of the Anglican Church, Christian services to commemorate great national events and anniversaries, Christian prayers at the start of every Parliamentary day and similar Christian services punctuating the rhythms of civic life in many towns and counties. Remembrance Day, Christmas, royal births, marriages, deaths and anniversaries all include Anglican Church services in our national life. In Wokingham Church and state come together for a variety of civic functions.

The Prime Minister is well aware of the many people of other faiths in our society who enjoy the tolerance and freedom of our society to profess their beliefs and hold their own ceremonies. Other faiths are also now represented in the Lords and their Heads are invited to the large State religious services and civic occasions. He is also well aware that many people in the UK believe in no religion, and will know that practising Christians attending Church regularly are a minority.

What does all this make us? Was he wrong to call us a Christian country, given the constitutional framework? Why should anyone be offended if a political leader draws attention to our Christian past and to our current fusing of the Anglican Church with our governing establishment?

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115 Comments

  1. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    We still have the trappings of the Anglican church and its administrators still have influence.We are grounded in Christianity and although many have strayed from the divine aspect of religion its impact will be felt and should be felt, for moral guidance if nothing else.Many homes do not focus on the personal social virtues; their parents do not have the upbringing to demonstrate these to their children. I realise that hypocrisy exists in abundance ,yet still there is knowledge of what is right or wrong when led by Christianity . Again, historical events are tied up with the culture and writings of the day; Christianity has moved on ,but lets not pretend that it has solved world religious problems as countries such as Sri Lanka and Syria slaughter their own, African tribes wipe each other out and kill women and children and so on and so forth.
    One only has to look at Jeremy Kyle, which has to be viewed to be believed, to understand how many just have not had any grounding in the old English behaviour initiated by the Christian Churches.
    We switched on the TV yesterday as the Anglican church demonstrated its tolerance to other religions as Asians were given a space to dance down the aisles of a great English church building.We can travel around to different countries and see the beautiful Islam influence on architecture.
    The Christian church though, has its arm in Rome ; Catholicism being a different powerful branch of Christianity.I do not hold Marxist views on the dumbing down of the masses at the expense of freedom; from what I have observed the freedom to develop without guidance wreaks havoc.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      It is sad that humanity has reached a technological high point just as it hits a cultural low point – super high communication to match super low culture.

      Rap music and twerking is no passing fad. Unlike all other forms of ‘music’ it is here to stay.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        Rap with a silent ‘C’ as the former Aston Villa manager, John Gregory, once said to his Rap-loving son.

        Tad

        • Hope
          Posted April 23, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

          Cameron was content for the Government solicitors to fight at the ECHR to bann wearing crosses at work while he appears content for turbans, hijab or Burka to be worn. His stance on gay marriage ignoring the public’ wishes also appear to be in contrast of what he now preaches when he seeks votes for the EU elections. Rather confusing for such a Christian stance.

  2. Old Albion
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    I think the (dis)UK is a Christain country still. (just)
    Personally, i look forward to the day when England becomes an Athiest society. Rejecting ALL religion as the mumbo-jumbo it is.

    • APL
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      Old Albion: “Rejecting ALL religion as the mumbo-jumbo it is.”

      Don’t for one minute think that all other religions will go into the twilight as meekly as Anglicanism. Others of a more a military nature, will greedily step into the breach.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      I do not mind him referring to Britain’s Christian history but religious indoctrination of young minds in our schools, religious segregation in our schools and preferential input to our democracy (of rather daft Bishops) is totally unacceptable. It is also very dangerous as we saw in Northern Ireland.

      We additionally now have the new catastrophic AGW exaggeration religion pushed through our exam syllabus and schools now and even force minority languages on children in some regions.

      Let people practice their faith privately – never in state schools, nor in government please. The religious should have no right to ram their beliefs (or even their 3 hour church bell practicing) into other people’s lives and gardens.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        That’s true LL. There are two things which I fear the most – Ignorance and nepotism.

        Tad

  3. Dee
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    No England is not a Christian nation. Thank goodness.
    It is a pity of course that the government thinks it is. That means continuation of enforced taxation to keep men in dresses in the comfort to which they have become accustomed (church tithes is church tithes by any other name).
    Equality for all isn’t here yet, but is it coming. Governments and religious institutions always did trail behind the people when it came to morals. When God’s chosen people of all stripes realise they evolved like the rest of us and no better than the rest of us, most wars can be put to rest.

    • Andrew Carey
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      “That means continuation of enforced taxation to keep men in dresses in the comfort to which they have become accustomed (church tithes is church tithes by any other name).”

      There are no church tithes. There is no church taxation. Where do these ideas come from?

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I know a lady who lives in Australia. To her, the Queen and Royal Family are simply privileged frauds. She would not take Australian citizenship while you had to swear allegiance to the Queen. She believes in equality for all. She also believes that the rich are despoiling the poor and that religion supports the rich against the poor.

    She loathes especially the Catholic church. She sees it as a place full of idiots who believe in the tooth fairy. She asks plaintively if they have ever heard of Richard Dawkins.
    Marriage to her is a “piece of paper”. She loathes Tony Abbott in the same way that a lot of people loathe Margaret Thatcher still.
    In the 1960s she was a hippy.

    The problem is that people who think like her are now in charge of the BBC, of large swathes of London opinion, of almost the whole State Education system and the Guardian Newspaper. They also are deeply represented in the Labour and Conservative parties too.

    And nobody – least of all they themselves – would pretend that they are Christian.

    • Bill
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Yes, it is a generational shift. The cultural elite embraces the shifting values of relativism.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Tony Abbot is about the only good thing I can find to come out of Oxford’s PPE course.

    • Duyfken
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Mike, I cannot accept that the lady you have quoted is typical of Oz sentiment. In fact she seems a bit of an odd-ball.

      The traditional divide is between those of an English background and the many descendants of Irish immigrants. This shows itself particularly in the denominations: CofE (now Anglican) -v- Roman Catholicism, and that has also shaped constitutional outlooks: monarchy -v- republic. There are exceptions, indeed some of my close friends there prove this, but this is something which has evolved from over a century or more and is only now perceptibly fading, assisted by the new influx of persons from other origins.

      Whether or not one adheres to any particular religion or denomination within a religion, whether or not Abbott, Dawkins or Thatcher are to be revered or denigrated, I would suggest that “your lady” is emotionally ill-adjusted. I note she would not take Australian citizenship and that is a relief . She sounds even too extreme for the BBC or Grauniad.

      As for me, an Australian in UK for many, many decades, I like Abbott, I like Dawkins, Thatcher was excellent and I like the institution of the monarchy. Educated in a CofE school, I have nevertheless long been quizzical about all religions and have no truck with any of them. So I should be a supporter of a secular state, but no. In England, if not the wider UK, the CofE has become part of the fabric and there is a rich heritage. And as far as I can determine the Church has little significant influence over political matters, and may that remain so. It is just churlish for (people ed) (and the BBC/Guardian) to gripe as they have.

      Reply There are plenty of Catholics who are not Irish in origin, and many Irish Protestants from N Northern Ireland.

  5. Andyvan
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    I seem to remember Blair using his religious beliefs as a prop for his war crimes. That went well. Now we have Cameron starting on his. Great.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Good one Andy!

      Tad

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Indeed Blair’s wars were a total and totally predictable/avoidable disaster. Rather like the climate change act but with even more deadly results.

  6. arschloch
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    The current political settlement in this country is based upon Judeo-Christian values. That is why we are stable and prosperous. If you do not like that go and live somewhere else in the world and that includes all the “intellectual” atheists too.

    • forthurst
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      “The current political settlement in this country is based upon Judeo-Christian values.”

      ‘Judeo-Christian’ is an oxymoron.

      • arschloch
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

        Explain what you mean. (etc ed)

  7. alan jutson
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Well history perhaps suggests he was right, is that the case now, I really do not know.

    Back in the 1950′s 60′s we used to have school assembly each morning in the School Hall, we listened quietly to classical music whilst waiting for the school head to appear in his robes, sang hymns, listened to a Bible extract, then the Lords prayer before the business of the day announcements.

    Those of a Roman Catholic Faith had a very much smaller service in a separate classroom.

    So was this Eaton, some other private school, or the local grammar ?.

    No it was a simple bog standard Secondary Modern School in West London.

    I wonder if it happens today, could it even happen, with the countless numbers of other religions and faiths being supported, the excuses not to attend a Church of England type of assembly would probably outweigh those who wanted to go (human rights and all that guff).

    Shame as it bought the School together for the start of the day.

    Perhaps this is just a tiny example, but it just shows how far we have dumbed down our own culture, standards , values to replace them with what exactly.

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      OOPs

      Eton

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      I would have no problem swearing an Oath of Allegiance to the Queen as Head of State under our present system of constitutional monarchy.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        Sorry, that was meant to be a reply to Mike Stallard.

    • a-tracy
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      I agree and experienced a similar religious education from a state comprehensive in the 1970-80′s. My children didn’t have a religious morning assembly, two of them weren’t taught the Lord’s Prayer at school or the National Anthem which I corrected when I realised the youngest thought the American national anthem was ours. I guess we’re like typical working class christians who attend church for special occasions births, marriages, deaths, blessings or services that the children are taking part in due to being a member of a choir or school performance.

      We are very tolerant of all faiths in GB, I support this although I don’t believe that none Christian beliefs should be encouraged or financed for example Sharia law, perhaps I should have thought harder about choosing a Christian faith school for my children because it helps with Christian moral guidance, philosophical belief, an understanding of caring for others and where to go when you need spiritual help and advice that I feel secularist schools just don’t have time in the timetable to deliver. However, saying that as parents we did pass on a moral guidance and caring lifestyle without ramming weekly sermons into them.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

        AT,

        I seem to recall being made to sing the line, ‘………rebellious Scots to crush, God save our Queen.’

        Not quite PC these days I venture, and Mr Salmond would revel in it. But at least we knew it was OUR national anthem. It’s worrying that people should think the US national anthem is our own, and perhaps indicates how badly we have been influenced by our friends across the water, through their swamping us with their banal television and glamour puss plastic people. I don’t however think your case is unique.

        On moral guidance, my wife and I did as you and your wife. We took it upon ourselves to fill the vacuum left by the school, and thankfully, all has turned out well.

        Tad

        Reply The verse you refer to was not part of the official national anthem. It was apparently sung in 1745 at the time of the Jacobite uprising. The second verse to the National Anthem which is little sung these days was a general piece about our enemies, not aimed at Scotland.

  8. Richard1
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    I didn’t read his actual article in the Church Times. I thought the unwise bit was the call for evangelism and the implication that people behave more altruistically because they are Christians. It is perfectly possible to live a moral life without religion.

    However the 50 or so signatories in the letter who denounced him are completely wrong. Of course the UK is a Christian country. It is a Protestant country also, just as eg Ireland is a Catholic country and Pakistan is a Muslim country. It doesn’t mean there aren’t many people of other religions and none, it just means that is our heritage and it impacts many of the traditions, ceremonies and laws in this country.

    The fact that there were no proper historians who signed the letter but there were some prominent leftists, including one or two proselytizers of the new religion of global warming should make us cautious in listening to such a group.

    • Mark
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Many of the signatories are members of the British Humanist Association, who it seems wish to impose their values as a small minority on the rest of us. Many of them are also broadcasters with the means to do so. It is odd that they chose not to reveal their faith.

  9. Alan Wheatley
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    When the Prime Minster, of all people, speaks he should make clear his meaning. If he can not speak clearly then it is doubtful he can think clearly, for the two are related.

    Irrespective of what he said, or meant to say, there is an interesting academic debate to be had over whether the UK is a Christian country. But while the academically minded can entertain themselves the significant political question is whether the UK should be a Christian country in the sense as outlined by JR.

    Or, more generally, the place in modern UK for belief in any supernatural deity. Which links to another interesting, academic debate: reasons as to why belief in the supernatural lingers in an age when science has explained the origins of the Universe from the Big Bang, through the evolution of species to the present World as it now is.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Alan – More to the point science has backed up its beliefs by delivering the goods to the people.

      Religion has not.

      Just a few centuries after breaking free of one medieval religion we have another in our midst.

      Endorse the CofE and we have to endorse all of it.

      The only honest belief system (science) could end up getting banned.

  10. Cheshire Girl
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Of course it is a Christian country! Those who say it is not are trying to rewrite history for their own ends. It is noticeable that most of those ‘campaigners’ and ‘ public figures’ are either Humanist or Atheist. I am a Christian but I don’t go round telling others that their beliefs are wrong. What happened to ‘ live and let live’ in this country? I believe it is time for Christians to stand up and be counted. Why should we be silent when our beliefs are being ridiculed and our Christian heritage is disappearing by the day.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      It’s not the holding of religious beliefs that is wrong – it is the disproportionate stake in democracy. A few years hence the dominant religion could be very different to the C of E and usurp the established meme.

      Science has disproved all of it. Why is a religious peer any better qualified to comment than a chef ?

      In a multi cultural society there is a real risk of the moderate CofE being displaced by something else altogether.

      I wouldn’t be commenting if I didn’t think it so. I have nothing against the CofE itself.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      Well it certainly was a Christian country but it is not really anymore. The problems is several, if not most, religions (unlike you) do indeed want to dictate to others, indoctrinate young minds and to have a preferential place in both education and government. Without such indoctrination of young minds they would surely struggle to survive

      Perhaps you do “not go around telling others that their beliefs are wrong” but sometimes, if asked, I do. I simply point out the evidence and science to people and ask them how they can possibly square their beliefs with reality, observations and all the abundant evidence around them.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        You make a powerful point LL.

        Tad

  11. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    I feel we are a country that most recently has been based upon and developed through the morality and ethics of the Christian faith.

    I personally do not subscribe to the son of God belief but do fear an omnipresent deity at those times where I contemplate my mortality.

    I am comfortable with Christian ethics and morality as practiced by most Christians. Certain leaders and influencers and the more rabid of the flock, as with all groups, will always tarnish the impression I have of Christianity but overall I say long may England and the UK remain Christian.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Christian ethics! – Ethical? have you read much of the old testament?

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        The teachings and parables of Jesus in the New Testament, which underpin Christian ethics are based upon not doing harm, forgiveness, taking responsibility for one’s own behaviour and treating others as one would be treated oneself.

        The vengeful God of the old testament is rarely seen. If a few more people in this country (at the top and the bottom of the tree) were less self interested and considered their fellows a bit the country would be a better place.

        • Tad Davison
          Posted April 22, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

          You’re right NS, but I ask, who wrote the New Testament, and is that not his interpretation of what Christianity should mean according to himself?

          Tad

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

            It is Tad and my point was that Christian ethics, morals and values built our country and it was not a bad place to be so long may it continue to have those values.

  12. Bob
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    You can marry someone of any gender and leave your estate to them free of IHT, but you couldn’t do the same for your children or your siblings.

    Please explain why this is okay?

    • Paul
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      I think the basic idea behind the exemption for spouses (and civil partners now) is that they have their wealth as a unit, whereas siblings and children do not ; the majority of siblings and children form their own economic/family unit.

      So the spouse/cp is a transfer within such a unit, and a sibling/child is a transfer outside it.

      Also, if you created an exemption for children and siblings then there would really be no point in having IHT at all, as most people leave their estate to them.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        There is no point in IHT it is just theft from people who would nearly always have used the money far better than the government would.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Could a father marry his son to avoid this ?

    • Bob
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      @Paul
      How about siblings that choose to live together, or a parent and child?
      Why should they be discriminated against?

      • Paul
        Posted April 23, 2014 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        Not getting something that someone else has is not discrimination per se.

        It is dead simple. Couples, straight or gay, that are married or civil partnered can pass assets between them free of IHT. If you make a lifelong commitment to someone by marriage or civil partnership then this transfer is free of IHT.

        Everyone else is subject to IHT. You could abandon IHT completely, as another poster suggested. Or you could apply it to everyone. But having a system of inspectors to decide whether someone’s living arrangements would excuse IHT would waste bucket loads and be fiddled anyway.

        This argument is going around that gays are in some way ‘getting something’ that straight people cannot.

        It is based around a pathological belief that a gay couple is somehow ‘different’ and is getting ‘special treatment’. It is, in my experience, always promoted by religious people who are opposed to gay marriage in particular and (usually) gay people generally. Without exception.

        • Bob
          Posted April 23, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

          @Paul

          “If you make a lifelong commitment to someone by marriage or civil partnership then this transfer is free of IHT.”

          Marriage is hardly a lifelong commitment nowadays.

          I would say a parent has more of a “lifelong commitment” to their children, and most siblings to each other?

          BTW – I never suggested that gays should be treated differently to anyone else by HMRC, I’m just asking why blood relatives discriminated against under IHT rules.

  13. Matt
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    This is often something I’ve thought about.
    As an atheist I find the presumption of christianity annoying, but nothing more. I don’t think we’re going to get away from it though as even constitutionally secular countries don’t seem to be able to escape priests of one kind or another participating at least in ceremonial roles in the structure of the state.
    I must admit a tendency toward disestablishmentarianism. I’m sure there are disadvantages, but those of of who are not part of Anglicanism sometimes feel put out by being expected to recite words of faith disingenuously.
    I expect somebody inclined toward antidisestablishmentarianism will make their case here and I shall read those comments with interest as I can honestly say that I see no harm in removing the role of the Monarch as head of the Anglican church and removing the Bishops from the Lords.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      You went to a CofE school and were made to write ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ out 100 times as punishment and I claim my five pounds.

      • Matt
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        Not so.
        I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use that word in a sentence when it was handed to me.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Matt,

      Forget the Bishops, how do you feel about simply removing the Lords altogether?

      Tad

      • Matt
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        Tad,
        Depends what you would replace it with. I’m dubious about going to a completely unicameral parliament.

  14. Robert K
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Yes, we are a Christian country, both through the established Church but mainly through almost two millennia of history and cultural evolution. Our landscape is shaped by our long term relationship with Christianity, from our parishes to the physical structures of churches and cathedrals throughout the land. Chrisitanity has guided our sense of what is right and wrong and is engrained both consciously and subconsciously in society. It is right that we should welcome other faiths but we need to face down on one hand
    aggressive secularism and on the other religious extremism and fundamentalism. I am not a fan of David Cameron but am impressed that a serving Prime Minister has gone on the record to express his faith. Good on him.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      But Christians rely on the secular authorities to protect them. That means that the police officers who would try to contain and quell a mob seeking to burn down a church could include men and women of different faiths and of none all acting together to uphold the secular law. Where the secular authorities fail to do that one religious group or another gets persecuted, and eventually the society can descend into religious civil war. I am an “aggressive” secularist in that I insist that the secular law of the land must always take priority over any religious law accepted by some group, and that secular law must be enforced. The police were guilty of a gross dereliction of their duty when they stood by and allowed people to parade with placards inciting murder, and it is shocking that it needed an MP to publicly intervene to spur a reluctant CPS into initiating prosecutions rather than turning a blind eye just because the people concerned were Muslims.

    • Jennifer A
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      I bet he’ll be reluctant to say it again, Robert.

      • Jennifer A
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        … that saying such a thing impresses you shows how far we’ve changed as a country.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      Perhaps it is his intellectual weakness for religion that made him fall for all that green crap tosh and put an idiotic toy rotating wind turbine on his Notting Hill house!

      Rather an expensive mistake as we now have to all pick up the many £billions PA cost of the climate change act and idiotic subsidies.

      • ian wragg
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        And Millipede wants even more. (Fools ed) the lot of them.

  15. Hope
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Cameron is stating Christianity because it might get him votes and is another PR stunt after his disgraceful implementation of gay marriage. He had no right to change this without a mandate from the public. You could not make up his shallow thinking behind his hypocrisy. The UK is a Christian based society and the values radiate in every thing we do, although the likes of Cameron are doing their best to undermine and change our nation state by stealth to have the same values cuztoms and beliefs as other countries in the EU.

    (Piece about Muslims left out ed)

    No individual UK citizen should be allowed to take part in religious or pseudo religious wars. If they do they should not be allowed back into this country. Cameron has done nothing to prevent the extermination of Christianity currently taking place in the world, in fact it could be argued the West’s intervention in Syria has allowed it to happen. Therefore he should not tolerate Muslims going abroad to fight in wars.

    Belatedly Jack Straw speaks out about it today. Perhaps he should have given this much more thought when in government and allowing the mess to be created in the first place! The UK’s existing values customs and beliefs should have primacy over any other being imported here, irrespective of Clegg’s dull views and his 1950 s reference drivel.

    Action needs to be taken, unfortunately Cameron is, once again, on the wrong side of the curve of public opinion. People will judge him on his actions implementing gay marriage not the current PR stunt.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Hope,

      ‘No individual UK citizen should be allowed to take part in religious or pseudo religious wars. If they do they should not be allowed back into this country.’

      You have a point, but what the hell can we do about it, they might have been born and bred here?

      This is at the heart of the debate. Perhaps we should insist that when people enter the UK to take up residency, they ought really to accept our Christian culture and our Christian laws, bear true allegiance to this country, and leave their enmity at the gate. But I can see all sorts of problems with that, and ones of the political class’ making.

      Tad

  16. Martin
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Well if the media are to be believed the biggest news story today is at Manchester United football club.

    • ian wragg
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      With the BBC it’s the “racist” UKIP posters. The truth always hurts, especially the BBC.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

        The idea that selective immigration based on skills and ability and these UKIP posters are racist is bonkers they are just telling the truth after years & years of establishment lies and dishonesty.

        Anyway are most religions not rather racist & sexist by their very nature?

    • libertarian
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      Martin

      There are more registered supporters of Man Utd in the UK than people who attend christian church services. So maybe Cameron should have said we are a Red Devils society

      • Tad Davison
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

        Libertarian,

        I didn’t think profanity was allowed on this site.

        Tad CTID

  17. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    No, this is now a secular country with a long and deep and generally benign Christian tradition but relatively few devout Christians. And that is how the great majority of us want it to stay, we do not want it to become an X country where X refers to some other religion. This is a mistake made by some of the remaining devout and well-meaning Christians, that they put a lot of emphasis on avoiding conflict between their faith and other faiths, which of course at present means Islam above all others, when the profound conflict is between the secularism that almost all of us have come to accept as being the best way to run our society, and Islam, (attacks extreme forms of Islam ed)

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      And ends by saying that the small and rather weak and foolish Christian minority who would be as lambs to slaughter, which they would be without the protection of the secular majority.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        We’re birds of a feather Denis.

        Tad

  18. Atlas
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    It is unwise to make such comments. Remember John Major’s comments, made a mockery of by later revelations concerning Edwina. In Cameron’s case how the welfare changes are working out in practice makes his comments sound like the worst sort of Victorian cant.

  19. Iain Gill
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    No is the short answer.
    There is quite a lot of nostalgic attachment to the format of the services for funerals, weddings, and the like, other than that I would say the vast majority regard religion as an old superstition with as much relevance as believing the sun goes around the earth. Mostly people are really atheist, although mostly they would not describe themselves as such due to nostalgic ties to their family.
    The churches also seem to provide their clergy with jobs, mostly folk of a certain disposition from the middle classes who would find it tough out in the commercial world. Like the public sector and the BBC a safe haven for characters of a certain disposition, and very much jobs for friends of friends.
    There is a lot of resentment at the way the churches abuse the way the state school system allows them to select pupils for the best schools, and encourage segregation. It is complete nonsense to be determining a 5 years olds life chances based on forcing their parents to claim certain religious convictions, if I know nothing else I know a 5 year old is not able to make an informed decision about religion.
    And large parts of our country are now dominated by other religions with the massed waves of immigration. Although most would seem to believe if these folk integrate they will over generations come to see their parents beliefs in the nostalgic way others see Christianity. Mostly there is frustration at the communities which refuse to integrate.
    Personally I would encourage integration, tolerance, teaching of science, and so on.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      Another good post Iain.

      I maintain people can still be of virtue and good character without adhering to a particular religion, but alas, in the minds of many, I am to suffer eternal damnation for thinking that way. There are some factions within other religions that would even have me stoned to death for not agreeing with them. I make no excuses for my belief that such ideologies are backward, intolerant, and thus have no place in the modern era, although I concede that some parts are good. Where religions advocate virtue and kindness, I support the message. Where they promote avarice, greed, nepotism, and dominance over all others, I do not. But I still say on balance, we’d be better off without the lot of them, because they have given the world nothing but trouble.

      Tad

  20. Bert Young
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    I am not a religious person and seldom attend church ; my wife and young child are churchgoers and actively support some of the activities . Whenever they return from a Service they come to me and say ” Peace be with you” ; this always makes me feel good . It strikes me that , Christian or not , the ability to communicate something well – intended has a place in any community and can knit people together . If traditional values help to mould people into decent human beings , then I am all for what the church does . Christianity was a much stronger feature in this country than it is today , so , if our leadership tries to get its message across in an attempt to return to the better days of the past , he must be applauded and not criticised .

  21. Paul
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    No, we aren’t. Much of these claims come from surveys, which invariably do not ask ‘I am not religious’ (or hide it under agnosticism, which many people will not understand).

    It really depends what you define as a ‘Christian country’.

    Most people will self identify as CofE, and will be christened, married and buried following a Christian service, but this is cultural not religious. I think most vicars know this and do not have a problem with people making Christian statements (as part of services) that they clearly do not believe in. Godparents have (I think) to assert that the believe and trust in God and Jesus. Most of them don’t.

    Having said that, Christians (and people in general) have a right to believe and think what they want. Some Christians are not very happy with gay marriages, for example, and whilst I think they are wrong, they should be allowed to hold that view without suffering for it. It is a balance between challenging that view, and the viewpoint of some that such views are not allowable and should be sanctioned that bothers me. Sometimes the reaction to a specific view is over the top. Sometimes Christians complain about their ‘treatment’ when their views are simply being challenged.

    The suppression of some views is IMO unacceptable ; there is an old Latin saying, “who guards the guards ?”. I recall recently David Camerons list of things that he wanted to control on the internet ; it was extremely vague. When thinking about such things, one should not think about what David Cameron, or Ed Milliband, or Nick Clegg would do with such, but what someone who is less democratic may do so (for example, Salmond’s recent behaviour regarding the CBI supporting the Union).

    Some will, probably with some justification, contrast it with the freedom that some people have to express views which are offensive in a different way.

    Those people should be able to express those sorts of views ; providing the general population can respond in kind. Which they often can’t, or are afraid to.

  22. Peter Davies
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Christianity as you say is the bedrock which our established institutions are based upon so of course he is right to state the obvious and is perfectly entitled to do so in his role as PM – not to alienate others but to remind us where we come from.

    I haven’t read his statement or bothered to check the 50 odd names (no doubt the usual leftist pro EU AGW types that have easy access to the media) promoting their usual tripe.

    Just because a country is based on a set of principles does not mean that other religions should not be free to live their lives and follow their chosen faiths (as long as they don’t impose themselves and try to indoctrinate others) in the same way that it is reasonable to expect Christians or other religious groups to be allowed to live free without persecution in non christian countries.

    I’m not saying this as a devout christian BTW

  23. John E
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    All those making the case for this being a Christian country rely on the history and the rather odd position of the Monarch being head of the established church. What fun we would have ridiculing that arrangement if it was in another country.

    Perhaps we should extend the current fashion and apologise for the land grab by Henry VIII and make amends by rebuilding the monasteries and handing them back to the Pope together with their estates. You don’t think Henry was acting out of Protestant religious zeal do you? We could start by rebuilding Reading Abbey – there is some land available now that the Gaol has closed down next door.

    But of course the reality today is that this is not at all a Christian country. I would propose the test of someone belonging to a Christian church being their ability to recite their Creed and say honestly that they believe it. That would be a small minority of the population.

    Church and religion should be kept separate and the C of E should be dis-established.

  24. John E
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Oops – Church and state should be kept separate – although maybe there is a case for my first statement!

  25. Jennifer A
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    If we are a Christian country then Mr Cameron has made things very difficult for the CofE.

    It now has to reconcile the clear writings of St Paul with gay marriage.

    I’m an atheist but I preferred England when people took the church more seriously and schools held religious assemblies and bodies such as the Boy Scouts could influence kids without being sued or prosecuted. I knew it was bunk but it bound the country together with a gentle, moral and philosophical identity.

    It’s over now. A couple of generations hence and it will be gone. It is already illegal to impose Christian belief and people are being sacked from their jobs for doing it.

    Something more strident and manly will fill the vacuum – as it always does.

    Much rather to declare all religion fictional (as it is) and disempower it in politics otherwise the fastest breeding culture will overpower us and probably within the average middle-ager’s lifetime. Whichever emerges strongest we can be sure that it won’t be the CofE which has been taken over by lefties anyway and stands with cross held forth in the path of anything Conservative.

  26. Bill
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    This is a question that ought to be factually answerable. There is no doubt that Christianity played an enormous part in the shaping of Britain and its Protestant values helped to drive its entrepreneurialism, its sense of fair play, its adventurousness, its science and its law.

    There is little doubt that Christianity’s public profile and influence have waned since the 1960s. It is arguable that soldiers returning from the 1939-45 war had lost the habit of churchgoing or, in another view, that the ideal of femininity from the 1960s onwards broke with values of the past (see Callum Brown’s book The Death of Christian Britain). Certainly if you compare the statistics of those who seek baptism/christening for children, religious marriage and funerals at the start and at the end of the 20th century, you see big differences. Some sociologists (e.g. Steve Bruce) argue that Britain has been slowly secularised but others (e.g. David Martin) argue that ‘religion has moved sideways’ into an ill-defined spirituality.

    What the statistics continue to show is that there are large, vibrant and growing congregations in Britain and many of these are engaged in valuable humanitarian work as well as preaching an evangelical gospel.

    What the 55 signatories to the Daily Telegraph letter should not be allowed to do is to re-define British history or to tell us that multiculturalism somehow negate Christianity. Indeed multiculturalism allows many flowers to bloom including Christian ones. So are we a Christian country? We have probably not been a Christian country since they heyday of Queen Victoria where, even then, a vocal minority of atheists/agnostics like Huxley and Bradlaugh made their complaints heard.

  27. Bill
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    This is a question that ought to be factually answerable. There is no doubt that Christianity played an enormous part in the shaping of Britain and its Protestant values helped to drive its entrepreneurialism, its sense of fair play, its adventurousness, its science and its law.

    There is little doubt that Christianity’s public profile and influence have waned since the 1960s. It is arguable that soldiers returning from the 1939-45 war had lost the habit of churchgoing or, in another view, that the ideal of femininity from the 1960s onwards broke with values of the past (see Callum Brown’s book The Death of Christian Britain). Certainly if you compare the statistics of those who seek baptism/christening for children, religious marriage and funerals at the start and at the end of the 20th century, you see big differences. Some sociologists (e.g. Steve Bruce) argue that Britain has been slowly secularised but others (e.g. David Martin) argue that ‘religion has moved sideways’ into an ill-defined spirituality.

    What the statistics continue to show is that there are large, vibrant and growing congregations in Britain and many of these are engaged in valuable humanitarian work as well as preaching an evangelical gospel.

    What the 55 signatories to the Daily Telegraph letter should not be allowed to do is to re-define British history or to tell us that multiculturalism somehow negate Christianity. Indeed multiculturalism allows many flowers to bloom including Christian ones. So are we a Christian country? We have probably not been a Christian country since they heyday of Queen Victoria where, even then, a vocal minority of atheists/agnostics like Huxley and Bradlaugh made their complaints heard.

  28. James Matthews
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    For ease of reference I repeat my comment on the previous thread:

    “Speaking as a convinced atheist, I see Britain as historically and mostly (for the time being) culturally Christian. For so long as any large organised religions exist I want it to stay that way. If that means acknowledging the divisions that clearly already exist (it didn’t cause them) so be it.”

  29. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I support the Prime Minister’s remarks and I am delighted he has expressed them!

  30. formula57
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    If Britain were accused of being Christian, then there would be evidence to convict, but perhaps now not beyond reasonable doubt.

    History is hard to shrug off and the values of Christianity hopefully thrive even today and even if they driven by others beside (though including) the Church. It is, of course, not news that the history of European ideas over the last three hundred years or more is strongly towards secularism.

  31. The PrangWizard
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    England is a Christian nation, but those of us who wish it to remain as such must cherish and defend it from aggressive enemies. If we don’t our nation as we know will fall too. There are some of our compatriots who are strongly opposed to the idea, but I suspect many have not thought deeply about what a Christian faith or a belief means, they would rather fight the stereotype, and it they may feel more important in the eyes of their friends. The idea that religions have been the cause of conflict is a calumny, it is human failings which cause that.

    As far as Christianity is concerned it does not require the slavish following of dogma, as atheists and aggressive secularists do. They are all about ‘self’ and are probably more unhappy than they care to concede; many have political change as part of their agenda. They would rather be angry and intolerant of others.

    We others can be quietly Christian and many people are, many may not even wish to admit it although they should. We, the English, are too diffident in many things including identity, but Christianity can be followed in private thoughts and it can provide solace in times of personal trouble. It guides our lives even when we don’t realise it or care to admit it.

  32. Richard
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    The Queen is most emphatically NOT the Head of the Church of England, she is the Supreme Governor. The Head of the Church (and indeed every Church) is Jesus Christ.

  33. Antisthenes
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    The UK is indeed a Christian country despite reason and logic having reduced the number of those who hold sincere beliefs in the infallibility of church doctrine. We may no longer have faith but we certainly still do subscribe to the standards and values that Christianity has built into our society and which has given rise to a culture that is peculiarly Anglican in nature and therefore more libertarian than those who follow the Roman or orthodox churches or are adherents of Islam. Of course our society is changing as many other influences other that Christianity is reshaping it. Those influences are mainly secular and religious and care has to be taken that the extremes of both are not allowed to sweep away all that our society has gained from centuries of being a Christian country. I say that as an atheist as my only quarrel with the church is with blind faith and all that is associated with that however in many other matters the church has been a force for good and we as a society have benefited immensely from it.

  34. behindthefrogs
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Yes we are a Christian country. However we must remember that there are many denominations other than the Anglican Church. These meet many of the objections that some of the other posts raise. We must not let our christian heritage be subsumed by giving too much prominence to other religions and atheists.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Does that include the religion that some have forced us to follow to the edge of oblivion, the one called the EU?

  35. Vanessa
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Why is it any different from calling Iran a muslim country – which it is. I am sure there are other faiths there but fundamentally it is muslim.

    Why are people so blinkered and probably ignorant of our Constitution which is built on Christian laws and beliefs? We cannot keep listing all the different faiths here now, it would take too long and is understood, anyway.

  36. Elliot Kane
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    The West as a whole owes its origins to Greek thought and the Christian religion, so the roots of our culture are undoubtedly Christian. Our moral and ethical systems are very strongly based on the Christian ideals and our laws have emerged from a Christian sense of right and wrong.

    Thus, to say our cultural past is heavily rooted in Christianity is merely a statement of fact, and cannot be disputed. It is far from the only influence, of course, but it is one of the strongest.

    Our present continues with these traditions, of course, and in that sense we might be considered a Christian nation.

    In terms of actual practised religions, however, I do not think Britain can currently be regarded as a Christian nation. We are a ‘none of the above’ nation, with many and perhaps most of us not really believing in any religion, whether or not we think there is a god or gods. A fairly large minority still seem to pay lip service and I’m sure there is still a strong core of actual believers, but the nation as a whole cannot truly be said to be Christians in any meaningful sense of the word.

    We do have a number of fairly strong minority faith communities. And of course we have plenty of pseudo-religions, whose strongest adherents hold to their faith regardless of fact or evidence and whose behaviour has all the hallmarks of what would otherwise be a very strong religious belief (Warmism is the most obvious, but there are a number of others).

    But if we were to look for one unifying religious or pseudo-religious belief system that we could say currently represents Britain as a whole… there isn’t one.

    • libertarian
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      Elliot Kane

      Actually ALL the major elements of our English culture are pre christian pagan. The days of the week, months of the year, ALL of our major “religious” celebrations and holidays. Folk tales and myths, all pagan. As is our language, property rights and common law. Usurped by Rome with an invented religion as a political manouver to try to retain control of a crumbling empire.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

        You’ve seen Zeitgeist too then lib! Highly recommended viewing for those who haven’t already seen it.

        Tad

      • Elliot Kane
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, Libertarian, but it’s not so.

        Every religion in history has ‘borrowed’ from those that came before, and Christianity is no different. But as with all other religions, it puts its own slant on things. It is the Christian view of all those ancient pagan things that survives, not the pure unadulterated pagan.

        Thursday may be ‘The day dedicated to Thor, god of thunder’, etc, but how many people even know that fact, let alone actually worship Thor, or any of the other Norse/Germanic deities from which most of our week days derive their names?

        Christmas may indeed have been moved to a Pagan feast day (Saturnalia, IIRC) but when we celebrate Xmas, it is through a Christian lens (Well, for most of us it is more of a secular holiday these days, but still).

        Certainly our moral and ethical systems owe their origins to Christian theology, not paganism.

        While it is certainly true that the old religions are part of our rich history, so lost are the original myths of Britain that Tolkien even set out to create a new set of myths for the English people in his writing. All we have are the merest fragments of the legends of Wayland Smith, Herne The Hunter, etc.

        Everything builds on that which came before. To highlight the influence of paganism, yet ignore the considerable influence of Christianity on the development of Britain, is to ignore a large part of our heritage.

        And to fully declare my own position, I am Agnostic, with no interest in any religion beyond its function in achieving and maintaining social cohesion. I never was and never will be a Christian.

        • libertarian
          Posted April 23, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

          elliot kane

          Yeh because Santa Claus ( woden ) reindeer, holly and mistletoe are all found in abundance in the Mid East, bit like eggs, bunnys, chicks etc at the feast of Eostre ( they didn’t even bother to change the name). Any idea what the gargoyles are on church roofs?

          In fact if you read Shakespeare you will find many references to the old ways. The 3 norns ( witches ) weaving the web of wryd. Tolkein was actually professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. So lots of the Ring is based on the pagan concepts of elves, fairies, dwarves and trolls.

          I think you probably need a better understanding of Anglo Saxon law pre Christianity . Known as leges barbarorum including things like trial by jury of peers, They established the three branches of law which were the executive, legislative and judiciary law and a distinct and very enforceable moral code. The hundred court met every 4 weeks , but the shire court only met twice a year . Lawsuits could be passed on to the shire court if the hundred court was not able to reach a judgement.

          All of this while Christians were still torturing and burning heretics at the stake.

          I don’t deny christianity has had a large cultural impact, that wasn’t my point. I’m an atheist, but an amateur scholar of Northern European pre history.

  37. Posted April 22, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I am not sure that many people were offended by the Prime Minister’s remarks.

    The BBC – as divisive as ever – promoted the comments of a view extremists but that was about it.

    • Posted April 22, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Sorry should have read “The BBC – as divisive as ever – promoted the comments of a few extremists but that was about it.”

  38. Tad Davison
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    It’s surprising how many Christian values are actually shared by other faiths too. We need only fear the perverted ones who would do us harm.

    We live by laws inspired by a Christian code of what is right, and what is wrong, what is moral, and what is immoral, but the blurring of those distinctions appear to be the ones that cause so much debate.

    I’d like to think that my own beliefs are largely in keeping with Christianity as I would rather do someone a good turn than a bad one, but there are times when I would surely fall foul of its precept. For instance, I would think it just to take a machine gun to a foreign invader to stop them pillaging my home, and may even receive praise for such an act. Yet were I to take a machine gun to a criminal who wanted to pretty much do the same thing, I would soon discover an inconsistency in the attitude of the law towards me. According to those who would ‘turn the other cheek’, both remedies are wrong. Best then, according to their doctrine, we allow ourselves to be subjugated eh?

    So I wonder about Mr Cameron’s idea of Christianity, is he of my persuasion, and does he also think that for evil to triumph, good men only need do nothing?

    And would Mr Cameron wish us to become embroiled in yet more distant wars, and feel it is Christian to expend the lives or our own people that way?

    And does Mr Cameron feel that drone strikes in places like Yemen, that also kill innocent people are justified under his interpretation of Christianity?

    So many unanswered questions. So much to ponder.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  39. Mockbeggar
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    There seems to be an assumption that failure to attend church regularly is a sign of loss of religious faith and that therefore we can no longer be classified as a Christian country.
    One of the reasons, I believe, for the reduced level of influence of the clergy is that their pastoral duties have now been taken over by social workers (paid, I may say, a good deal more than vicars). This is somewhat akin to the loss of the village/local bobby who remained in post for many years (as did vicars) and thus became well known and trusted members of the community and who, in turn, knew who was either ill, infirm and so on or, in the case of the bobby, who was likely to be the cause of trouble.

    Those of us who are able to live with ambiguity and doubt – could I possibly be wrong on this point? – are, perhaps, less likely to start trouble than those whose need for certainty – and the certainty that they are right – outweighs natural empathy for their fellow human beings of whatever creed or absence thereof.

    Personally I quite admire atheists; it must be just as hard to believe there is no god as it is always to believe there is one.

    • Paul
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Depends. There are two sorts of atheists (or beliefs to be more exact) ; weak atheism, which is ‘not proven’ and strong atheism which is ‘no God’.

      Most atheists would not strictly state as a given that there is no sort of God anywhere, but would view the various man made religions as nonsense.

      Basically Occam’s razor applies, and common sense ; same reason you don’t believe in other Gods, fairies at the bottom of the garden and so on.

  40. Terry
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Is the UK a Christian country?

    Well, it used to be until the treacherous Blair and his Third Reich Way of ‘New’ Labour, forced multiculturalism upon an electorate who were never consulted on the matter.

    Now, according to some analysis, we are expected to become the most culturally diverse country in the World within the next 40 years. Already Reading, Berks has around 150 different first languages in its schools. Just what strain is that putting on the education system?
    Christian worship is a dying practice here but I like to think that the British follow a Christian way of life and if we lose that, we lose our true identities. That will be a sad day. And a diabolical disaster for OUR Nation.

  41. jim mothersole
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I agree with all those people who have answered yes to your question of are we a Christian country. There are to many deny this and would like it to be otherwise, but thankfully, as yet, we are a Christian country. The Prime Minister has every right to express his onion, as do the rest of us. I for one am pleased to see someone in government stand up for the silent majority. To many people come to the uk from a country where oppression is the norm take refuge here and then want to change the country to something else. We are a Christian society have been for decades and hopefully will remain that way.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Jim,

      I’m all in favour of keeping the values Christianity brings with it, but a lot of other faiths share those common values. I do however get confused when some people’s idea of Christianity differs from the rest. There are even stark differences of interpretation within the same church or religious order. It is, as you say, only right that anyone who comes from elsewhere should abide by our values and not try to change us from within, but perhaps then, someone from the church could give us the definitive answer and specify what Christianity truly is. Our politicians consistently make decisions that seem outwardly to be anything but Christian – and so, unfortunately do some of our churchmen.

      Tad

  42. Brian Taylor
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    It was reported that on the last censuse 60% called themselves Christrian.
    That’s good enough for me.

  43. Simonro
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Calling the UK a Christian county is unfortunately accurate, both legally and in the culture of state institutions.

    In Wokingham, primary school children get taught bible myths as fact before they are taught to read and write. School assemblies are required by law to have a CofE basis. Teachers still reprimand 5 year olds for not singing hymns. The school day ends with a prayer.

    Only CofE bishops have reserved places in the house of lords, shops are still forced to close on a Sunday.

    In court you are given the choice between swearing on a bible or affirming.

    The list goes on and on.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Simon,

      Regarding school assemblies and there being a legal requirement to have a C of E basis, I’m not sure if it’s typical throughout the land, or just a local anomaly, but the schools my kids went to in Cambridge had one meagre assembly once a week that had no religious meaning at all, and the pupils couldn’t even recite the Lord’s Prayer. That is because many of them didn’t even know what the Lord’s Prayer is!

      Tad

      • Paul
        Posted April 23, 2014 at 7:53 am | Permalink

        There are two ; the old one which people of mine and Mr Redwood’s age were taught, and the new version. When it is said now, you often get an amusing conflation of the two.

        The presence or absence of assemblies is usually driven by practicalities. Many schools do not have a space big enough to get all the children in at once.

  44. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    How can it possibly make sense to claim that this is still a Christian country when half the population now openly say that they have no religious belief at all, and many of the rest either have only weak Christian belief or they have non-Christian belief?

    • sm
      Posted April 22, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      I’m an agnostic, and one who feels a lifelong gratitude to the UK for giving my Jewish parents and grandparents asylum.

      I respect the fact that the UK has a long – and often contentious – Christian past, that it has an Established Church and a monarch invested in a Christian ceremony; I also believe, or perhaps just hope, that this Establishment will prove a bulwark against religious fanatics of whatever stripe.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        That’s interesting SM. You are of Jewish extraction, but have clearly not kept with the faith of your parents and grandparents. I’m in a similar position having no interest in the Roman Catholicism of my parents and grandparents. A friend, whose Jewish parents survived the concentration camps has also decided religion is no longer for him. I’m curious to know in the context of this thread, what made you change your mind?

        Tad

  45. Frances Cotton
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Cheshire Girl,this a Christian country and has been for hundreds of years. It is the basis of our way of life, our tolerance of others. One wonders if that is why so many wish to be here. Please do not let a few odd people put us off!

  46. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 22, 2014 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    The UK is plainly not a Christian country. Quite apart from the presence of other faiths that mass immigration has encouraged, it is clear that atheism is the coming big idea and that western European males are in the vanguard. The current situation can be summarised as organised religion losing the battle because its beliefs are absurd – just about all of them. Persecution of atheists is the only solution to the dilemma that it faces.

    And while we are on the subject, looking after the poor is not the most important task facing the Government. We might be better governed if less time and money were spent on it.

  47. Excalibur
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Roger Scruton, that font of wisdom and knowledge, wrote eloquently of ‘The English Religion’ in his book ‘England: An Elegy’. But in the autobiographical ‘Gentle Regrets’ he draws attention to ‘Regaining my Religion’ and in particular to the ‘tranquil words of the Jubilate Deo’. It is worth repeating here :

    O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands: serve the Lord with gladness, and come before his presence with a song.
    Be ye sure that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
    O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and speak good of his Name.
    For the Lord is gracious, his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth from generation to generation.

  48. Ljh
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I became an atheist when I discovered I was incapable of belief, but after years abroad, working closely with people operating from a different value system, I have discovered I am an Christian, English, Protestant atheist.

  49. Robert Taggart
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Cameo was right – unfortunately !
    Blighty be indeed an essentially Christian Nation – England all the more so.
    Although many people profess to being Christian – when pressed, they indulge in their ‘faith’ rarely – in reality.
    The continued establishment of the CofE be an irritating anachronism for many of us.
    The fact that our political class be disproportionately religious – whatever their faith – only serves to confirm how unusual a breed of citizen they be !
    As an Atheist – one takes no offence at what Cameo stated. More offensive was the sniping by others who purport to speak for others !

  50. Alex
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    I think that this country is Christian, in respect of the philosophy behind its culture and laws.

    The concept of tolerance and respect for human life, for example, arises out the Christian philosophy (among others, to be fair). It doesn’t require a belief system to support it. It’s quite possible to be an atheist, and yet adhere to a philosophy whose morality is rooted in Christian values.

    Different philosophies might require quite different approaches to law and culture. For example, it might be considered normal to repress individuals, or kill dissenters, in some philosophies.

    A different philosophy such as utilitarianism might require that all things are practised for the good of the majority of people: which sounds promising, until you notice the absence of respect for human life. So what happens when someone decides that you aren’t contributing to the greater good? Not a question you want answered.

    So on the whole, yes, I think this is a Christian country in terms of philosophy, even if many people within it neither practise nor believe.

    And plenty, of course, still do.

  51. Kenneth R Moore
    Posted April 25, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    The gentle character of the English has it’s foundations in Christianity. We as a nation are generally, fair minded, kind, good humoured, patient, trusting, tolerant, generous. In that sense we are a Christian country.
    But England is dieing as our rulers follow the doctrine of multi-culturalism. A nation is a group of people that share a common history, beliefs, values. Without this there cannot be trust and community. There cannot be an ‘English people’ as being English is more about just the geographical position in which you are a resident.
    If I don’t know that my neighbour shares my values, how can I trust him ?. But this is what the EU project is all about – destroying national cultures so that we can be more easily brought to heel under an EU super-state.

    So it’s rather odd that Mr Cameron is drawing attention to this – his policy of EU appeasement is what is destroying this formally Christian country.

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    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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