Militant atheists should “get over” Britain being a Christian nation, the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, has said.
Pickles calls on atheists to stop imposing their “politically correct intolerance on others.”
The member of Parliament's address to the Conservative Spring Forum in London is not the first time he has highlighted Britain’s identity as a Christian country.
In February 2012, Pickles fast-tracked new laws to override a high court’s decision to ban councils from having prayers at official meetings.
It followed the case of a local atheist ex-councilor who sued Bideford Town Council over prayers being said at meetings. The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund supported the council.
Pickles’ actions led to a circular, which said that all major local authorities in England can continue to hold prayers at formal meetings.
Following changes in legislation, smaller councils are now also able to hold prayers.
Pickles told the Conservative forum, “I’ve stopped an attempt by militant atheists to ban councils having prayers at the start of meetings if they wish. Heaven forbid. We’re a Christian nation. We have an established church. Get over it. And don’t impose your politically correct intolerance on others.”
He explained, “This government has backed British values. And we’ve stopped Whitehall appeasing extremism of any sort. Be it the EDL [English Defence League], be it extreme Islamists or be [it] thuggish far-left, they’re all as bad as each other.”
In November, Pickles spoke at the launch of the Westminster Abbey Institute and said, “If you look back at all the great men who are referenced around here, most of their speeches would have been littered with references to the Bible.”
He added, “We pray every day with 'God Save the Queen'—and I think we remain a Christian country.”