During her address at a multi-faith reception held at Lambeth Palace to mark her Diamond Jubilee Year Queen Elizabeth II has said that Christianity is woven into the fabric of our country, helping build a better society.
‘…the Church of England has created an environment for other faith communities and indeed people of no faith to live freely. Woven into the fabric of this country, the Church has helped to build a better society – more and more in active co-operation for the common good with those of other faiths.’
‘Our religions provide critical guidance for the way we live our lives, and for the way in which we treat each other. Many of the values and ideas we take for granted in this and other countries originate in the ancient wisdom of our traditions. Even the concept of a Jubilee is rooted in the Bible.’
This occasion is thus an opportunity to reflect on the importance of faith in creating and sustaining communities all over the United Kingdom. Faith plays a key role in the identity of many millions of people, providing not only a system of belief but also a sense of belonging. It can act as a spur for social action. Indeed, religious groups have a proud track record of helping those in the greatest need, including the sick, the elderly, the lonely and the disadvantaged. They remind us of the responsibilities we have beyond ourselves.’
The Queen also explained the importance of the Church of England in protecting the religious freedom of all people of faith in the UK:
‘Here at Lambeth Palace we should remind ourselves of the significant position of the Church of England in our nation’s life. The concept of our established Church is occasionally misunderstood and, I believe, commonly under-appreciated. Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.’
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were greeted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, before meeting representatives of the Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Zoroastrian communities, as well as Christian representatives, including Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.
Protect the Pope comment: In the past couple of months senior figures of the British Establishment have defended the Christian identity of our country – The Queen, Prime Minister David Cameron, and Cabinet Minister Baroness Warsi. This public defense has been much needed in order to counter the myth being promoted by atheists and secularists that the UK is a secular country. It is no such thing.