Over Christmas and the New Year, the Queen spoke of Jesus as “an inspiration and an anchor” and a senior politician highlighted Christianity’s importance to society.
In her annual Christmas message the Queen spoke about reconciliation and forgiveness, describing Jesus as a “role model” of these qualities.Sorry, we couldn’t find this video.
In the message, broadcast on Christmas Day, she said: “For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.
“A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing.
“Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none.”
The monarch’s annual Christmas speech, which was first delivered by George V in 1932, is one of the rare occasions when the Queen gives her own views on events in the nation and around the world.
On 23 December Communities Secretary and Minister for Faith Eric Pickles said the UK should not forget about the birth of Jesus Christ amid the “trees, tinsel and turkeys”.
He added: “The Christian faith is the backbone of local communities across the country and is at the heart of our national life”, and said thoughts and prayers should turn to Christians being persecuted abroad.
The Government minister also commented that “we should all be immensely proud” of the role that the “Christian faith continues to play in the United Kingdom”.
Scotland: First gay marriages
On New Year’s Eve the first same-sex marriages took place in Scotland, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon witnessing one of the ceremonies.
The legislation to redefine marriage was passed in February 2014, despite widespread opposition including a Scotland for Marriage petition signed by over 50,000 people.
Also over the Christmas period, a former family judge explained that he had moved away from supporting the idea of giving the same legal rights to cohabitees as to married couples.
Sir Paul Coleridge told the Daily Mail that he used to be in favour, but now thinks it is “a naïve, lawyer-driven idea”.
He added that the Government should be “unequivocal in its support for marriage”, and that marriage is made unfashionable because some give the idea that the institution “doesn’t matter and all relationships are the same”.