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Sunak: The Church has enabled multi-cultural Britain

by Will Hobbs
Sunak pic.jpg - Banner image

"You can be a practicing Hindu and a proud Briton, as I am. Or a devout Muslim and a patriotic citizen, as so many are. Or a committed Jewish person and the heart of your local community, all underpinned by the tolerance of our established Christian church. We are a country where we love our neighbors. We are building Britain together."

So said Rishi Sunak outside 10 Downing Street in his lectern speech on Friday evening.

The comments, crediting the Church in England for enabling people of all faiths to feel embraced by Britain, were praised by the Executive Director of Christians in Politics, Andy Flanagan.

"I agree with what Rishi Sunak said about the Church being the basis for our plural society. You know, the very idea that the word secular comes from the idea of the secular, going right back to Constantine until the idea of the Church providing a plural public space—a place where everybody could play, where nobody was forced to believe something, where everybody had the freedom to believe what they wanted to believe.

"That's the gift of the Church to the world. It's sometimes not realized by people. That's where we get the word secular from. It's a gift of the church to the world.

"So I absolutely agree with what Rishi said about that."

Flanagan, however, told Premier he thought the rest of the speech, which warned extremism was threatening to undermine Britain's multifaith democracy, with mention of George Galloway's by-election win and regular Gaza protests, lacked any genuine evidence.

"We have a situation where people are actually standing and saying, 'Well, actually, we believe this to be wrong. We believe this situation in Gaza to be wrong. We believe that what's going on in terms of the climate crisis is a disaster for our children and our grandchildren.' Folks are on the streets protesting. I don't see how any of those folks are undermining democracy by exercising their right to protest and the right to free speech. I haven't seen any evidence. If the fabric of Law and Order was breaking down, and people were not allowing government people and police to do their jobs... I don't see that happening."

Last week, the government announced a £31M package to enhance police protection for individual MPs after Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle cited threats to politicians in his controversial handling of a debate on calls for a ceasefire in the conflict.

Lord Walney, the former Labour MP John Woodcock, told the BBC that the "aggressive intimidation of MPs" was having a "corrosive effect" on how politicians behaved.

"Even if they would not explicitly admit that they have voted in a particular way directly because of a threat, they are choosing to keep their heads down, not wanting to contribute," he added.

He said the issue had been "writ large" during debates over Gaza but could also be a factor in a "number of issues" in the future, including on climate change.



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