Britain should be "proud" of Christian heritage
Published on 2 December, 2016
People should feel able to speak freely about their Christian faith and Christmas, the Prime Minister has said.
Theresa May told MPs that Britain had a very strong tradition of religious tolerance and its Christian heritage was something to be “proud" of.
She spoke out after Conservative MP for Congleton, Fiona Bruce, said many Christians are "worried, even fearful" about mentioning their faith in public.
Mrs May’s remarks were welcomed by the Moderator of the General Assembly, Right Rev Dr Russell Barr, who is currently in London and held private talks with her at Downing Street on Wednesday.
He launched the Church’s online Advent video campaign yesterday which is aimed at helping people seeking to find the true festive spirit amid the "rampant commercialism" which now dominates the weeks of Advent.
Dr Barr said: “When we attended Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday, I was pleased to hear Theresa May encourage Christian people to speak openly about their faith and to celebrate Christmas and the birth of Christ.
“For the Christian community, Bethlehem's child is joy for the whole world, a joy we are glad to share with people everywhere.”
Speaking at Prime Minister's questions, Ms Bruce said: “Comments this week by the equalities commissioners about not being worried about talking about Christmas at work were important, because many Christians are now worried, even fearful, about mentioning their faith in public.
“Will the Prime Minister therefore join me in welcoming the recent Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship publication ‘Speak Up!’, which confirms that in our country the legal rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech to speak about one’s faith responsibly, respectfully and without fear are as strong today as ever?”
Mrs May, a Church of England vicar's daughter, said the MP had raised an important issue “which matters both to her and me”.
“I think the phrase that was used by the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship was ‘the jealously guarded principle’ of that ability to speak freely, as she says, respectfully and responsibly about one’s religion,” added the Prime Minister.
“I am happy to welcome the publication of this report and its findings.
“We have a very strong tradition in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech, and our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of.
“I am sure we would all want to ensure that people at work do feel able to speak about their faith, and also feel able to speak quite freely about Christmas.”