Theresa May: We Must Stand Up For Persecuted Christians
Theresa May has vowed to stand up for persecuted Christians in an address to Church leaders in Downing Street on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister said the UK should be proud of its 'Christian heritage' and said it was vital people were able to talk freely about their faith.
She also thanked those gathered at Number 10's Shrove Tuesday reception for 'all for the service you give to our country and for the difference you make to so many lives' saying she owes the Church 'a huge debt of gratitude'.
May, the daughter of a Church of England priest, said the reception was of 'particular importance to me personally' as she spoke of her horror at the ongoing persecution of Christians.
'It is hard to comprehend that today people are still being attacked and murdered because of their Christianity,' she said.
'We must reaffirm our determination to stand up for the freedom of people of all religions to practice their beliefs in peace and safety,' she added saying she hopes 'to take further measures as a government to support this'.
The reception included church leaders including the UK's Catholic head Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of York John Sentamu, the retiring Bishop of London Richard Chartres as well as black majority church leaders and others.
In a possible hint to recent criticism from the Archbishop of Canterbury over the sudden removal of the Dubs amendment for child refugees, May admitted 'the Church will not always agree with everything that the government says – and the government will not always agree with the Church'.
But she thanked the Christian leaders for their service and said there were many areas where Church and State could work together.
'I also believe it is right that we should celebrate the role of Christianity in our country.
'We have a very strong tradition in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech, and our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of.
'We must continue to ensure that people feel able to speak about their faith, and that absolutely includes their faith in Christ.
'I also believe that Christianity has an important role to play in making Britain a country that works for everyone.'