US evangelist Tim Keller has urged parliamentarians to embrace religious freedom and allow Christians to live according to biblical values.
Keller was speaking at the annual National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast in Westminster Hall to 470 guests, including almost 170 MPs and Peers.
Hosted by the Bible Society, this year’s theme asked “What does Christianity offer our society in the 21st century?”
Keller’s key note speech encouraged Christians to follow Jesus’ instructions to live as salt and light, distinct from the rest of the world.
He said: “Christians won’t benefit society if they’re just like everyone else in society.
“We’re not going to benefit a society filled with self-actualisers unless we really are different and we do believe Jesus died for us and we live by self-sacrifice.”
He also urged politicians to allow Christians the freedom to follow their conscience, saying: “Don’t demand that they become like everyone else.
“Modern society says we believe and respect difference but here’s what you should do: Tell Christians to be true to their ideals but then critique them on those ideals and not someone else’s.”
Paul Williams, CEO of Bible Society, praised the event, calling it “encouraging and moving”, adding that Christians can “help preserve what’s good, and draw out what’s best in society.
Ian Blackford MP, SNP’s Westminster leader said it was “the highlight of the year for Christians in Parliament”, adding that he was “delighted” that Theresa May had attended the event.
The Prime Minister’s statement for this year’s programme gave a nod to Britain’s rich Christian heritage.
She said: “The Christian Gospel has transformed the United Kingdom with its values and teachings, helping to shape the laws, customs and society of the country in which we all live.
“The National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast is an excellent opportunity, both to celebrate Christians’ ongoing contribution to this country and to reflect on the role Christianity can play in contemporary public life.”
She added: “Whether you are a Parliamentarian or constituent, I encourage all of you to continue your engagement as Christians in public life for the common good of all.”