David Cameron warned the Church of England that it must keep to an “agenda that speaks to the whole country” as he said Britain should be proud to be a “Christian country”.
In a landmark speech on religion, the Prime Minister said that the country had been “unwilling” to “distinguish right from wrong”, but warned “moral neutrality is not going to cut it any more”.He said that Britain was at a “pivotal moment” in the wake of the riots and the financial crisis and that the Church must play a central role in reshaping the country. But, in a coded attack on the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Prime Minister warned that the Church must “keep on the agenda that speaks to the whole country”. “I certainly don’t object to the Archbishop of Canterbury expressing his views on politics,” Mr Cameron said, but “he shouldn’t be surprised when I respond”.
His comments come after Dr Rowan Williams criticised government spending cuts and the Coalition’s democratic legitimacy. Mr Cameron said that it was also right for political leaders to say something about religious institutions “affecting our society” when they do not promote equality and tolerance. He added that the Bible backed the “emancipation of women”, warning: “even if not every Church has always got the point”.
The Prime Minister decided to make his first detailed speech on religion in the wake of the summer riots and the financial crisis which he blames on moral failings.