The Story: In an historic visit to the Vatican, Baroness Warsi, Britain’s first female Muslim Cabinet minister, gave a speech in which she expressed concerns about the marginalization of religion throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, saying that faith needs “a seat at the table in public life.”
“You cannot and should not extract these Christian foundations from the evolution of our nations any more than you can or should erase the spires from our landscapes.”
The Background: Although Warsi is Muslim, she grew up in a town where Christian values were important during her youth, notes Robert Winnett of The Telegraph. The minister has decided to send her own daughter to a Christian school.
Winnett says the speech represents one of the most strident defenses of the importance of religion by a serving British minister. “It comes days after the High Court ruled that local councils could not hold prayers during meetings. There have also been recent cases of public sector workers being banned from displaying Christian symbols at work.”
What It Means: While Warsi is justified in being concerned about the marginalization of religion, much of the blame can be placed on those who call themselves “Christians.”
A recent survey reveals that a majority of people in the U.K. who identify as Christians do so only for cultural reasons. When asked why they think of themselves as Christian, the research found that fewer than three in ten (28%) say one of the reasons is that they believe in the teachings of Christianity. Around two thirds (64%) were not able to identify Matthew as the first book of the New Testament, when given only four answers to choose from and over a third (37%) have never or almost never prayed outside a church service. Almost three quarters (74 per cent) agreed that religion should not influence public policy, while only about one in eight (12 per cent) thought it should, the survey found.
Before the Christian faith can take its place in the British public square, it first needs to reestablish its place in the country’s homes and churches. The United Kingdom doesn’t just need to recover Christendom, it needs to recover its faith in the kingdom of Christ.
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