Britain remains a Christian country and believers should not privatise their faith, Gordon Brown has told a Christian radio station.
When challenged over claims that Christianity is becoming increasingly sidelined in the UK, Mr Brown said it is “impossible” to privatise faith because it underpins people’s convictions about what makes a better society.
“I don’t accept this idea of privatisation”, he said, adding that “what people want to do is to make their views current”.
Mr Brown’s comments will be received with skepticism by those who say recent laws have made it difficult for Christians to practice their beliefs openly.
Christian nurses, doctors, teachers and care workers are among those who have faced problems at work because of their beliefs in recent months.
Several Christian groups have warned that the Government’s new Equality Bill could pose a further threat to their freedoms.
Mr Brown, who was interviewed by Premier Christian Radio’s Victoria Laurence, also responded to claims by the Archbishop of York that the Government’s support for religious groups favoured Muslims.
Mr Brown said increased social diversity meant there needed to be an emphasis on making sure particular groups did not feel discriminated against.
“I think it was true that a lot of laws and allocations of finance were criticised five, ten years ago”, Mr Brown conceded.
“I think the issue now is that people want us to be more cohesive as a society and I think that means that the emphasis is more on integration.”
Commenting on secularism in the UK, the Prime Minister said: “The attitude to official religions, I mean in Britain we’re not a secular state as France is or some other countries, we don’t actually have a formal separation of church and state as they do in America.
“It’s true that the role of official institutions changes from time to time but I would submit that the values that all of us think important, if you held a survey round the country of what people thought was important, what it is they really believed in, these would come back to Judeo-Christian values, and the values that underpin all the faiths that diverse groups in our society feel part of.”