Former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey accused Prime Minister David Cameron of alienating Christians and said the government was “aiding and abetting” an aggressive drive against religion.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Carey said Cameron had “done more than any other recent political leader” to feed Christians’ fears that they are becoming a persecuted minority.
Carey, who led the Church of England between 1991 and 2002, added that he is “very suspicious” that government plans to legalise gay marriage are being driven by “an aggressive secularist and relativist approach towards an institution that has glued society”.
The 77-year-old, who as archbishop of Canterbury was spiritual leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans, said that while Cameron has vocally supported Christians’ right to wear the cross, government lawyers have argued against this at the European Court of Human Rights.
The prime minister “said that he supported Christians’ right to practise their faith,” Carey wrote. “Yet many Christians doubt his sincerity.”
He cited a ComRes poll which suggested that more than two-thirds of British Christians feel that they are part of a “persecuted minority”.
Downing Street strongly rejected Carey’s accusations.
Carey is an outspoken opponent of gay marriage and has urged the government to drop its plans to recognise it in law.
He sparked controversy last October by comparing strong supporters of same-sex marriage to Nazis, arguing that the labelling of its opponents as bigots was reminiscent of the early days of the Third Reich.