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By Tim Montgomerie
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David Cameron once downplayed his faith but he used his Christmas message to suggest he took faith very seriously. His Easter message, just released, is also emphatic:

“I send my best wishes to all those in the United Kingdom and around the world celebrating Easter this year in what is an incredibly exciting time for the Christian faith worldwide.

This year’s Holy Week and Easter celebrations follow an extraordinary few days for Christians; not only with the enthronement of Justin Welby as our new Archbishop of Canterbury, but also with the election of Pope Francis in Rome.

In the Bible, Saint Peter reminds us of the hope that comes from new birth through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Christians, it also reminds us of Jesus’s legacy of generosity, tolerance, mercy, and forgiveness. That legacy lives on in so many Christian charities and churches both at home and abroad. Whether they are meeting the needs of the poor, helping people in trouble, or providing spiritual guidance and support to those in need, faith institutions perform an incredible role to the benefit of our society. As long as I am Prime Minister, they will have the support of this Government.

With that in mind, I am particularly proud to lead a Government that has kept its promise to invest 0.7 per cent of our gross national income on helping the world’s poorest*, and I am grateful that we have been able to partner with both Christian and non-Christian charities to relieve suffering overseas.

I hope you have a very happy Easter.”

I'm not sure it will convince George Carey however. The former Archbishop of Canterbury used an article in yesterday's Daily Mail to suggest that David Cameron was increasing British Christians' fears of persecution. Lord Bates was very unimpressed. In an article for ConHome the Tory peer argued that if anyone was to blame for Christianity's marginalisation it was churchleaders like Dr Carey who talked a lot about issues that weren't central to the lives of their declining flocks.

* Most Tory MPs in marginal seats told Matthew Parris of The Times that the PM was right to honour his aid commitments.

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