Christians must work with other faiths to combat the extremism that is poisoning society today, the Prime Minister urged this afternoon.
At his annual Easter reception at 10 Downing Street to celebrate the role of Christianity in society, David Cameron spoke to hundreds of guests from Christian churches about the key role that Christians play in society and how having an Established Church of England emphasises the place of faith in public life.
But addressing the crowd a day after the atrocities in Belgium and within hours of chairing a COBR emergency meeting at Number 10 regarding the Brussels terrorist attacks, he stressed the role of people of faith in tackling extremism in Britain.
“We have to help fortify one another for the extraordinary effort in defeating extremism,” he said. “We are now well into the second decade of an extremist organisation poisoning young people’s minds. Some people have hijacked a part of Islam and this is a great fight we have to join. Muslims need our help”.
Mr Cameron said that his Easter reception “is a reaffirmation of the United Kingdom as a Christian country and we’re proud of this. It is not to denigrate other faiths. Having an Established religion in its place in public life tells people that there is space here for faith.”
The Prime Minister described the UK as “an opportunity democracy” and praised Christians for the contribution they make to society through their voluntary work in food banks, mental health organisations, and with young people, through which they work to strengthen society.
“People say to me that I didn’t invent the Big Society, Our Lord did, and that’s fine with me,” he said. He also praised church schools, saying he liked their ethos. His own children have attended a Church of England state primary in Kensington.
Although he paid tribute to persecuted Christians in the Middle East, Mr Cameron has continued to refuse to recognise their plight as genocide, insisting that the judicial system should determine whether the term should be used.
David Cameron has regularly praised Christianity since he first became Prime Minister in 2010, although in 2014 he famously said that his own Christian faith was “a bit like the reception for Magic FM in the Chilterns: it sort of comes and goes”.