UK Chancellor: ‘This is a secular country’

UK Chancellor: ‘This is a secular country’ November 18, 2020

This is great to hear from someone high up in government (Chancellor of the Exchequer – holds the purse strings); from Humanists UK:

In an interview with the BBC, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has described the UK as a secular country and explained how Christmas is a festival celebrated by everyone, of all religions or beliefs. Humanists UK has welcomed his comments, as standing in contrast to comments from previous political leaders, when advocating for divisive policies.

On Christmas, Mr Sunak said:

‘Of course this is a secular country. But Christmas is also a national time when regardless of whether you’re going to midnight Mass or to church, it’s a time when most people have time off work, we have holidays, state holidays, it is a time when everyone hangs out.

‘I mean, I’m Hindu, but I’m also equally going to be tucking in to my Christmas meal – the kids are excited about that.’

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented:

‘The Chancellor’s comments are a very welcome breath of fresh air. He is right that the UK is a country that is shaped by pre-Christian, non-Christian, and post-Christian forces, and today has a highly diverse population. This is also reflected in how national public holidays like Christmas are celebrated with surveys showing that most people who celebrate the public holiday of Christmas are not doing so for religious reasons and are not Christians.

‘Uniquely amongst the four nations, England does still have an established Church, and there are various areas of public policy which privilege Christianity over other religions and beliefs, for example, the presence of bishops in the House of Lords, the large number of state-funded Christian schools, and the requirement to hold Christian collective worship in other state schools. But these are not reflective of the population of the UK today. These matters must be examined, to ensure our state institutions keep pace with the changed demographics.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Read Rishi Sunak’s comments.

Read more about our work on constitutional reform.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.


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