Public figures slam Cameron's 'Christian country' claims
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Communities
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Over 50 public figures have written to David Cameron to challenge his recent claim that Britain is a Christian country.
Published in the Telegraph, the letter outlines the authors' objections to the prime minister's "repeated mischaracterising of our country as a 'Christian country'".
Organised by the president of the British Humanist Association, Professor Jim Al-Khalili, theoretical physicist and science broadcaster, the letter has been signed by novelists, scientists, broadcasters, campaigners, authors and comedians.
Among the signatories are Philip Pullman, Ken Follett, Professor Alice Roberts and Sir Terry Pratchett.
Jim Al-Khalili said: "As people who value reason and evidence in public policy and fairness and secularism in our political life we wrote this letter as a result not just of one recent speech and article but of a disturbing trend.
"Politicians have been speaking of our country as 'a Christian country' with increasing frequency in the last few years. Not only is this inaccurate, I think it's a wrong thing to do in a time when we need to be building a strong shared identity in an increasingly plural and non-religious society."
The letter reads:
"We respect the prime minister's right to his religious beliefs and the fact that they affect his own life as a politician. However, we wish to object to his repeated mischaracterising of our country as a 'Christian country' and the negative consequences for our politics and society that this view engenders.
"Apart from in the narrow constitutional sense that we continue to have an established church, we are not a ‘Christian country’. Repeated surveys, polls, and studies show most of us as individuals are not Christian in our beliefs or our religious identities and at a social level, Britain has been shaped for the better by many pre-Christian, non-Christian, and post-Christian forces. We are a plural society with citizens with a range of perspectives and a largely non-religious society.
"To constantly claim otherwise fosters alienation and division in our society. Although it is right to recognise the contribution made by many Christians to social action, it is wrong to try to exceptionalise their contribution when it is equalled by British people of different beliefs. It needlessly fuels enervating sectarian debates that are by and large absent from the lives of most British people, who - as polls show - do not want religions or religious identities to be actively prioritised by their elected government."
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