Much is being written about the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent assertion that Britain is “a Christian country.”
While some religious groups like the Hindu Council UK and the Muslim Council of Britain seem comfortable with the characterization, another group warned—in an open letter published in the Daily Telegraph and signed by more than 50 public figures—that such a claim “fosters alienation and division in our [British] society.”
Britain is, of course, a Christian country and not just in “the narrow constitutional sense” claimed in the letter.
According to the 2011 census, 59.5 per cent of U.K. residents self-identify as Christian. The Anglican Church (Church of England), the official religion in the country, is led—though only ceremonially—by the U.K.’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.
But Christian roots go even deeper than the statistics suggest.
As an example, the Union Jack, the national flag of the United Kingdom, is a combination of symbols of three Christian saints: the Cross of Saint Andrew, the Cross of Saint Patrick and the Cross of Saint George.
Moreover, Christian values permeate the society from its laws to its marriages. The U.K.’s culture is steeped in Christian tradition. Christian holidays and saint days punctuate the calendar and God—the Christian God—is mentioned several times in the British national anthem. As noted in a BBC News Magazine piece in 2012, trying to take Christianity out of British culture “would be not so much like taking the raisins out of a fruitcake as like taking the chocolate out of a chocolate cake.”
Although many in Britain have embraced a policy of multiculturalism: encouraging immigrant communities to celebrate their individual cultures rather than assimilating, to others multiculturalism has failed to provide a moral equivalent to Christianity—even Prime Minister Cameron has said that “state multiculturalism” has failed in Britain.
Christianity remains—as it has for some 1,500 years—the basis of the average Brit's moral compass and the cultural backbone of one of the world’s leading democracies. Moral relativism which has become so popular in recent years—especially as regards to Muslim culture and religion—has not served Britain well and is certainly not providing a proper substitute for Christian values.
In conclusion, I heartily endorse Prime Minister Cameron’s
desire to infuse British politics with Christian ideals and values.