DAVID Cameron’s description of Britain as a Christian country has sparked debate in Worcestershire.
Earlier this week the Prime Minister said British people should "be more confident about our status as a Christian country".
But many have said his remarks risked creating divisions in a society where 25 per cent describe themselves as having no religion.
In the 2011 census 59 per cent of residents in England and Wales described themselves as Christian – down from 72 per cent a decade earlier.
Worcestershire Royal Hospital chaplain Rev David Southall said it was “indisputable” that the principals and laws underpinning British society had been made from a Christian perspective and many charities and community groups were formed by churches.
He added many people across the country continue to identify themselves as Christian, even if their dealings with the church were limited to weddings, christenings and funerals.
“Worcester in particular, with a limited multi-faith community, would certainly fit that mould,” he said.
“However, as a member of the Baptist denomination, we believe that a Christian is someone who has made a personal and life changing profession to follow Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord and who seek to live their lives in accordance with the teaching of the Jesus and the Bible.
“So in that sense, Britain is not a Christian country.”
He said it may be more appropriate to describe Britain as a spiritual country.
“Many people I meet in hospital, whilst not formally religious, have a sense that there is something other beyond themselves, which is why they call for the chaplain to come to share a space with them in the presence of the divine,” he said.
Mark Smith threw his support behind the Prime Minster, saying: “The basis of Britain is a Christian country. This covers a wide range of beliefs including Catholics/Protestants/Orthodox/Anglicans etc etc. What he is referring to is that we are not a Muslim, Buddhist or whatever other religion country."
Philippa Stevens agreed, writing: “I'm sure the majority of those that disagree will give/receive Christmas presents, and eat chocolate eggs at Easter....”
But others disagreed, including Matthew 'Jungalist' Lang, who said: “I do obviously recognise our Christian heritage, but I do not feel catagorising us as a Christian nation today is representative of general consensus. Religion is not only dividing, but it is also damaging. I also feel policy should have nothing to do with religion.”
Andrew Robinson wrote: “To paraphrase Alan Bennett 'the Church of England is so broad that its followers can believe almost anything... but of course very few of them actually do'.”