David Cameron has been called on to send a “message of support” to Christians facing persecution around the world as Christmas approaches.
Speaking at the final Prime Minister’s Questions of the year, Sir Gerald Howarth MP highlighted the situation for believers at home and abroad.
His comments came on the day The Christian Institute launched its briefing on overseas persecution, and called on the Government to act.
Sir Gerald asked the Prime Minister if he would send a supportive message to those Christians facing persecution abroad, and called on Mr Cameron to restate the UK’s Christian heritage.
He invited the Prime Minister to say that Christian principles have led to Britain giving refuge to people from many other faiths.
And he asked if Mr Cameron would say that “we will not tolerate those who abuse our freedom to try to inflict their alien and violent fashions upon us, particularly in the name of Islam”.
Mr Cameron said: “I join my Honourable Friend in saying that we should do everything we can to defend and protect the right of Christians to practise their faith the world over.”
He added that “Britain is a Christian country”, and that the status of the Church of England and society’s understanding of the importance of faith in the nation’s life “makes us a more tolerant nation and better able to accommodate other faith groups in our country”.
He continued by saying that “we should be proud that this is one of the most successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith, multi-religion democracies anywhere in the world”.
The Christian Institute’s briefing highlights that 80 per cent of acts of religious discrimination worldwide are against Christians.
It also notes that £2.7 billion of UK taxpayers’ money is being given to countries where Christians are suffering serious persecution.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said the publication shows that much of extremism in the world is anti-Christian in nature.
He also said that the briefing is crucial at a time when the Government is considering how to tackle the issue in the UK. “When there is so much confused thinking in Government about counter-extremism, ministers need to remember that Christians are the victims of extremism, not the perpetrators”, he said.