UK PM Cameron accused of fueling division by calling Britain a Christian country

April 21, 2014

(Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, at the enthronement ceremony for the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at Canterbury Cathedral March 21, 2013.REUTERS/Toby Melville)

A group of scientists, academics and prominent writers accused British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday of stoking sectarian divisions through his repeated description of Britain as a “Christian country”.

The public figures, including authors Philip Pullman and Terry Pratchett, said they respected the Conservative leader’s own religious beliefs, which he has addressed in a series of statements.

But they took issue with his characterization of Britain saying, in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, the country was actually a “plural society” of largely “non-religious” people.

“To constantly claim otherwise fosters alienation and division in our society,” said the 55 members of the group that also included Nobel prize winning scientist John Sulston.

“It needlessly fuels enervating sectarian debates that are by and large absent from the lives of most British people, who do not want religions or religious identities to be actively prioritized by their elected government,” the letter added.

The 2011 census showed Christianity was the largest religion in England and Wales but the number of people who described themselves as Christian had fallen from almost 72 percent in 2001 to just over 59 percent, or 33.2 million people. About 14 million people said they had no religion.

Cameron told an Easter reception this month he was “proud to be a Christian myself and to have my children at a church school”.

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