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In an exclusive piece for Premier Christianity magazine this Easter, Prime Minister David Cameron speaks up on the significance of the Christian faith.
In a few days’ time, millions of people across Britain will be celebrating Easter. Just as I’ve done for the last five years, I’ll be making my belief in the importance of Christianity absolutely clear. As Prime Minister, I’m in no doubt about the matter: the values of the Christian faith are the values on which our nation was built.
I’m an unapologetic supporter of the role of faith in this country
Of course I know not everyone agrees. Many understandably feel that in this seemingly secular society, talking about faith isolates those who have no faith. Others argue that celebrating Easter somehow marginalises other religions. But I’m an unapologetic supporter of the role of faith in this country. And for me, the key point is this: the values of Easter and the Christian religion – compassion, forgiveness, kindness, hard work and responsibility – are values that we can all celebrate and share.
Personal, not just political
I think about this as a person not just a politician. I’m hardly a model church-going, God-fearing Christian. Like so many others, I’m a bit hazy on the finer points of our faith. But even so, in the toughest of times, my faith has helped me move on and drive forward. It also gives me a gentle reminder every once in a while about what really matters and how to be a better person, father and citizen.
In the toughest of times, my faith has helped me move on and drive forward
As Prime Minister, too, I’m a big believer in the power of faith to forge a better society. And that belief boils down to two things.
First, the Christian message is the bedrock of a good society. Whether or not we’re members of the Church of England, ‘Love thy neighbour’ is a doctrine we can all apply to our lives – at school, at work, at home and with our families. A sense of compassion is the centre piece of a good community.
Second, and more specifically: faith is a massive inspiration for millions of people to go out and make a positive difference. Across the country, we have tens of thousands of fantastic faith-based charities. Every day they’re performing minor miracles in local communities. As Prime Minister, I’ve worked hard to stand up for these charities and give them more power and support. If my party continues in government, it’s our ambition to do even more.
No magic wand
It’s that impulse to act which is particularly important. One of the myths we often hear at election time is the idea that governments have all the answers. It’s been the cry of every party and politician down the years: ‘put us into power and we’ll solve all your problems.’ But when I think of the truly great social changes that have helped our nation, they weren’t led or started by big governments. They were driven by individuals and activists, great businesses and charities – everyday people working to do the right thing.
The Christian message is the bedrock of a good society
One of the biggest things I’ve tried to do as Prime Minister is banish this notion that being in government means you can somehow wave a magic wand and solve all the world’s problems. Instead, it’s about taking the right decisions, and showing the right judgment and leadership, based on clear values and beliefs.
Leading the economy
The biggest area where leadership has been needed over the last five years is in our economy. We came into office at a time of exceptional pressure on the national finances. I am proud that despite the pressure on public spending, we made clear choices to help the poorest paid and most vulnerable in society. In the UK, we have increased NHS spending, despite the overriding need to deal with the deficit. We also raised the threshold of income tax to lift the poorest paid out of income tax altogether. If we came back into government, my party would lift the threshold again.
More fundamentally, the core of our recovery programme – dealing with the deficit to restore confidence in our economy – is based on enduring ideas and principles: hard work, fair play, rewarding people for doing the right thing, and securing a better future for our children.
Guided by conscience
I know that some disagree with those policies – including a number within the Church of England. But I would urge those individuals not to dismiss the people who proposed those policies as devoid of morality – or assume those policies are somehow amoral themselves. As Winston Churchill said after the death of his opponent, Neville Chamberlain, in the end we are all guided by the lights of our own reason. ‘The only guide to a man is his own conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions.’
Across the country, we have tens of thousands of fantastic faith-based charities
From standing up for faith schools to backing those who’ve fought foreign tyranny, helping parents and celebrating families, calling for more adoption of orphaned infants, bringing in a new bill to outlaw the appalling practice of modern slavery, and putting the protection of international development spending into law, this government has consistently taken decisions which are based on fundamental principles and beliefs.
I don’t just speak for myself, but for everyone who is part of my cabinet, when I say that the individuals I have worked with are driven not just by the daily demands of politics, but also by a commitment to making a positive difference. Just because some people have disagreed with our policies, does not mean those policies are missing in moral content.
Lift people up rather than count people out
So I end my argument with this: I hope everyone can share in the belief of trying to lift people up rather than count people out. Those values and principles are not the exclusive preserve of one faith or religion. They are something I hope everyone in our country believes.
That after all is the heart of the Christian message. It’s the principle around which the Easter celebration is built. Easter is all about remembering the importance of change, responsibility, and doing the right thing for the good of our children. And today, that message matters more than ever.
David Cameron, Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party
For interviews with Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and further election coverage www.premier.org.uk/election.
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