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  • 18 April 2017: Prime minister’s Easter message on the importance of Christian heritage

Prime Minister Theresa May’s Easter message instigated considerable stir and debate about the role of religion both in government and for national identity. In her address, two days before announcing a general election, she made a number of references to the importance of Christianity and Christian values, as a means of uniting the country after Brexit:

“This Easter I think of those values that we share – values that I learnt in my own childhood, growing up in a vicarage. Values of compassion, community, citizenship. The sense of obligation we have to one another. These are values we all hold in common, and values that are visibly lived out everyday by Christians, as well as by people of other faiths or none.”

Although “other faiths and none” were mentioned in passing, there was an implication that the values aspired to are understood to be Christian. Some people also felt it undermines the deep political divisions within the country after the referendum. Former Labour communications director Alastair Campbell accused her of implying that God would have voted to Leave Europe.

She also appealed to religious freedom, and urged that “We must continue to ensure that people feel able to speak about their faith, and that absolutely includes their faith in Christ.” Although the statement was general, it has been read as suggesting that Christians do not enjoy religious freedom in Britain. Secular campaign groups have found this ludicrous given the protected status of the Church of England.

A couple of weeks before, Theresa May had expressed her outrage at an advertisement from The National Trust a chocolate egg hunt not using the word “Easter”.

On 18 April, the prime minister called for a general election to be held on 8 June. The purpose is to secure a majority for the Conservative Party in parliament, in the time leading up to the separation from the European Union in 2019.

Read more, including the full speech at Huffington Post, I News and The Guardian.

D 26 April 2017    AIngrid Storm

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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