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Nicky Morgan, who replaced Michael Gove as Education Secretary in yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle, came under attack for her Christian faith on her first day in her new role.
Ms Morgan, who joined the Cabinet from the Treasury, is an Anglican and a trustee of the Conservative Christian Fellowship. Ahead of the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast last month, the Guardian reported her as saying that her role in Parliament was "to remember the Word of God and serve the Lord".
Stephen Evans, campaigns manager at the National Secular Society (NSS), questioned whether Ms Morgan would be able to place children's rights above "demands from faith groups".
“The omens are not good, but rather than using her position to promote her personal penchant for Christianity, we hope Ms Morgan will work towards a more inclusive and fair education system and promote equally of esteem all children, regardless of their religious and philosophical backgrounds," he wrote on the NSS website.
Ms Morgan was appointed Minister for Women and Equalities in April, a role she will be retaining. She voted against same-sex marriage in last year’s free vote, explaining: “I totally support civil partnerships and that same-sex relationships are recognised in law. But marriage, to me, is between a man and a woman.”
The founder of the gay rights group Stonewall, Michael Cashman, who retired as a Labour MEP earlier this month, tweeted yesterday: “Nicky Morgan in charge of education & equalities is deeply worrying. The true nature of the Tory party is unchanged & reverting to type."
Prime Minister David Cameron has given Nick Boles MP, a junior minister who is in a civil partnership, responsibility for implementing the gay marriage legislation.
Ms Morgan backed Nadine Dorries’ 2011 amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill, which would have required independent advice be made available to women requesting an abortion.
She has supported the Government’s education reforms, voting for greater autonomy in schools and very strongly for the creation of academies. She has opposed mandatory sex education in academies.
In an interview with the all party parliamentary group Christians in Parliament, she said she was inspired to renew her faith when she was selected as Conservative candidate for Loughborough because the churches there were so socially active. She described Christian life in the House of Commons as "vibrant".