The former Bishop of Rochester is urging Education Secretary Michael Gove to restore the teaching of Christianity in Britain's schools.
Writing in the latest edition of Standpoint magazine, the Rt Rev Nazir-Ali welcomed moves by Gove to end what he calls Britain's "collective amnesia" about its Christian heritage.
He said Christianity was the most significant link in the story of Britain and that education should look at the vital role played by reformers in the struggle for the freedoms he says shaped the British nation and are now under threat.
He wants to see schools teach children about the link between Britain today and its foundations in the Judeo-Christian traditions of the Bible, particularly the role of Christians in abolishing the slave trade, introducing universal education, improving working conditions, and caring for the sick.
"It is ironic, indeed, that nurses cannot now pray at work, under threat of dismissal, when their ward duties often began with prayer right up to the middle years of the twentieth century," he said.
"So many of the precious freedoms that we value today, the fair treatment of workers and the care of those in need, arise from values given to us by the Judaeo-Christian tradition.
"I am glad that the Minister is setting out to remove our collective amnesia—and to enable us to see our history as a connected whole. This will also have to mean the rediscovery of our spiritual and moral identity.
"The question now, of course, with parliamentary reform hovering in the wings, is how the Judaeo-Christian tradition can continue to be called on, especially when proposed legislation raises important moral issues for the individual and for society."
Bishop Michael Nazir Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, is the President of Oxtrad – the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue, which promotes freedom of belief in many parts of the world.
Nazir-Ali calls on education secretary to restore teaching of Christianity to schools
Published 25 October 2010 | Jenna Lyle