Theresa May : 'We must ensure people feel able to speak out about their faith in Christ'
The Prime Minister has used her Easter message to speak out about the right of Christians to speak out about their faith.
'We must continue to ensure that people feel able to speak about their faith, and that absolutely includes their faith in Christ,' she says.
She references the values of a vicarage childhood - 'values of compassion, community, citizenship. The sense of obligation we have to one another.'
These are values everyone holds in common and values that are visibly lived out everyday by Christians as well as by people of other faiths or none, she adds.
She praises people who work with the sick and bereaved and aid workers bringing relief to war-torn parts of the world.
'We should celebrate all these contributions and others like them, and the difference they make in our society and around the world. In doing so, we should be confident about the role that Christianity has to play in the lives of people in our country,' she says.
'And we should treasure the strong tradition that we have in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech.'
She asks people to be mindful of Christians and religious minorities around the world who do not enjoy these same freedoms, but practise their religion in secret and often in fear.
'We must do more to stand up for the freedom of people of all religions to practice their beliefs openly and in peace and safety,' she says. 'So this Easter, whatever our faith, let us come together as a nation confident in our values and united in our commitment to fulfil the obligations that we have to one another.'
Theresa May also says there is a sense that people are 'coming together' again after the divisions around Brexit and 'uniting behind the opportunities that lie ahead'.
For at heart, this country is one great union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future.
'As we face the opportunities ahead of us – the opportunities that stem from our decision to leave the European Union and embrace the world – our shared interests, our shared ambitions, and above all our shared values can - and must – bring us together,' she says.
In his own Easter message, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also referred to the importance of freedom of religious belief.
He said: 'Easter is a time of hope and new life for all Christians. This year my thoughts are with all those facing persecution and denied the right to worship freely, particularly Christians in the Middle East – and especially those who suffered in the terrible attacks on Palm Sunday in Egypt.
'The UK will continue to stand with our international friends and partners as strong advocates for freedom of religion or belief for all. We must work to spread the mutual respect, tolerance and understanding of different faiths which bind us together as a global community and build a better, more peaceful world.'