Easter is a time for Christians to celebrate the ultimate triumph of life over death in the resurrection of Jesus. And for all of us it’s a time to reflect on the part that Christianity plays in our national life – that church is not just a collection of beautiful old buildings, it’s a living active force doing great works right across our country. When people are homeless, the church is there with hot meals and shelter; when people are addicted or in debt, when people are suffering or grieving, the church is there. I know from the most difficult times in my own life that the kindness of the church can be a huge comfort.
Across Britain, Christians don’t just talk about ‘loving thy neighbour,’ they live it out ... in faithschools, in prisons, in community groups. And it’s for all these reasons that we should feelproud to say: this is a Christian country. Yes, we are a nation that embraces, welcomes andaccepts all faiths and none, but we are still a Christian country.
That’s why the government I lead has done some important things, from investing tens ofmillions of pounds to repair churches and cathedrals to passing a law that reaffirms the right ofcouncils to say prayers in their townhood.
And as a Christian country, our responsibilities don’t end there. We have a duty to speak outabout the persecution of Christians around the world, too.
It is truly shocking that in 2019 there are still Christians being threatened, tortured even killedbecause of their faith, from Egypt to Nigeria, Libya to North Korea. Across the Middle East,Christians have been hounded out of their homes, forced to flee from village to village, many ofthem forced to renounce their faith or brutally murdered.
To all those brave Christians in Iraq and Syria who are practising their faith, or shelteringothers, we must say, ‘We stand with you’.
This government has put those words into action – whether getting humanitarian aid to thosestranded on Mount Sinjar or funding grassroot reconciliation in Iraq.
In the coming months, we must continue to speak as one voice for freedom of belief. So thisEaster, we should keep in our thoughts all those Christians facing persecution abroad and givethanks for all those Christians who are making a real difference here at home. On which note,I’d like to wish you and your family a very Happy Easter.