Church is ‘under-appreciated’, says Queen

At a time of increasing division between faith and secularism, the Queen has delivered a robust defence of the Church and faith in British society.

In a speech to a multi-faith gathering at Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Queen said the Church of England was “under-appreciated” and “misunderstood”.

Addressing the leaders of Britain’s nine main religions, the Queen said the faiths provided “critical guidance” for life and relations with others.

“The concept of our established Church is occasionally misunderstood and, I believe, commonly under-appreciated,” she said.

“Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.”

The Queen went on to say that the Church of England had created an environment for people of faith and none to “live freely” and that the Church was “woven into the fabric of this country”.

“The Church has helped to build a better society – more and more in active co-operation for the common good with those of other faiths.

“This occasion is thus an opportunity to reflect on the importance of faith in creating and sustaining communities all over the United Kingdom.”

She said faith could act as a “spur for social action” and that religious groups “remind us of the responsibilities we have beyond ourselves”.

The Queen’s address is timely, coming just days after a landmark High Court ruling banning the saying of prayers at town council meetings.

The ruling put an end to centuries of tradition at Bideford Town Council in Devon following a complaint by atheist councillor Clive Bone.

This week Baroness Warsi warned that British society was being taken over by a “militant secularisation” the instincts of which are “deeply intolerant”.

The Muslim Cabinet minister criticised the way in which Christianity had been written out of the European Constitution and said that faith had been “neglected, undermined – and yes, even attacked – by governments” in recent years.

Baroness Warsi made the comments ahead of a visit to the Vatican where she was due to meet the Pope.

She was accompanied by the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson, and Scottish Secretary Michael Moore.