06 Jun Are Christians Being Marginalised? Q&A with Theresa May
As the election draws to a close tomorrow, Theresa May speaks to Premier Radio about her faith, the Church’s role in society and her aim to deal with injustice.
Our audience voted that out of all the party leaders you are the most like Jesus. Being Christ-like, is that something you’d aspire to?
I have to say I think it’s an extraordinary poll, it’s the first time that I’ve ever heard of a poll like this! All that I would say is that obviously, I’ve been clear with everybody, everybody knows that faith plays a part in my life and faith guides me in everything that I do.
One of the thing that many people say about Jesus is that he came for all, not the few. One of the accusations that your party faces is that you cater for the few not the many. What would be your response to that?
When I first became Prime Minister and I stood on the steps of Downing Street I spoke about the sort of government that I wanted to lead and I made it very clear that I wanted a government which was a government for everyone because I want a country that works for everyone and not just the privileged few and that is what we are doing. I am very clear that what we do as a government and what we would do if we were re-elected as a government is to ensure that we are putting ordinary working families first.
Gosh! Well, I think that you have made the point in a sense in your question really that the Church does so many different things in terms of the outreach work that it does in communities, in terms of the support that it gives, for example for elderly people.
My own local church has now just opened a new church hall and they are going to be doing a lot more in the local community to provide lunch clubs for elderly people for example. The Church does so much and it is of course an integral part of our society but it also does a lot of work overseas as well and that’s important too.
When we speak to our audience about their concerns for our country one the biggest thing we hear time and time again is that they are concerned that their religion, Christianity, is being marginalised in the UK and other religions are getting better treatment. Is that a concern for you and what would you say to ease the concerns of our audience?
What I would say is that we have in this country, it is absolutely right, that we believe in freedom for people to practice all faiths or none and that is important. And it is important that we continue to recognise that and continue to respect different faiths and people who chose to practice and to worship through different faiths and believe in different faiths.
I hope that people will see that in me as a Prime Minister who has been prepared- I’ve been very clear that I am a vicar’s daughter, that I have a Christian faith that I am a practicing member of the Church of England. I hope that people will see in that that there is no way that Christianity is being marginalised in this country.
You talk about practising your faith, how has that changed since you have become leader of the party? How have you been able to practice your faith albeit in a very different setting?
I continue to practice in the same way that I always have done, in terms of my faith and I think that it is important that one is able to do that and obviously faith very much guides me in what I do.
One other thing that came out of our poll this week is that seven in ten of our listeners will pray before entering the polling booth. How will you be praying on June 8th?
What I hope everybody will do on June 8th, however they approach the polling booth, is actually focus on the choice that they will have to make. Because the choice is about who they believe has the strong and stable leadership to take us through the Brexit negotiations to get the best possible deal because so much of our future depends on that. And who they believe has the will and the plan to get on with job and deliver Brexit for people and make a success of it.
If there was one issue you would like to achieve over the next five years as leader of this country that would please our audience the most what would be that one thing?
There’s so much that I have set out in our manifesto in terms of addressing the big challenges that we see our country faces over the next five years. Obviously, Brexit negotiations are going to very important. But I am also very clear that I want to deal with injustices and sometimes there are injustices in our country that have been hidden for too long. One example of what I have done- The Modern Slavery Act- and acting to ensure that we don’t see people effectively being enslaved which sadly we do see in our country today. I think that we should all come together and work to defeat modern slavery.
Going back to the issue of the Church’s influence. We have bishops in the House of Lords and church leaders who are in regular contact with politicians such as yourself. What would you say to those in the Church who say that they role is diminishing and they have less influence?
I would say that we continue to maintain, obviously the position of, as you say, bishops in the House of Lords. I meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury and talk to him about what role the Church in playing here and overseas and the impact that the church has. And I meet with other denominations too. I think that it is important that we recognise the contribution that churches make to our society.
And how do politicians go about letting the Church know that they are appreciated? Is that something that you could do as Prime Minister going forward?
Well I think that doing an interview on your radio station is probably a good start!
Originally published on Premier Christianity by Marcus Jones.