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Theresa May: stand up for religious freedom at home and abroad

Theresa May at the Sovereign's Parade at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst last week (Getty)

Theresa May has made a plea for religious tolerance in her first Easter message as Prime Minister.

In a video message, May said: “We should be confident about the role that Christianity has to play in the lives of people in our country, and we should treasure the strong tradition that we have in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech.”

May said that Christians and others around the world are sometimes forced to “practise their religion in secret and often in fear”. She also implied that freedom of religion in Britain might not be entirely secure, saying: “We must continue to ensure that people feel able to speak about their faith, and that absolutely includes their faith in Christ.”

The Prime Minister also appealed to Britain’s shared values of “compassion, community, citizenship,” which she said she had learnt “growing up in a vicarage”. May’s father was an Anglican clergyman.

She said these shared values could unite Britain as it faces “the opportunities that stem from our decision to leave the European Union and embrace the world”.

In November, May said that the ability to speak about one’s religion is “an important issue”, and that the freedom to do so should be a “jealously guarded principle”.

Tony Blair’s former spin doctor Alastair Campbell criticised May, saying: “I think even vicars’ daughters should be a little wary of allying their politics to their faith.” He added: “She does not exactly say if God had a vote he would have voted Leave, but she gets closer to it than she should. If she really thinks she is leading a united country full of hope … I suggest she gets out more.”