Christian persecution claims 'unfounded'

The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth
Image caption The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth says Christians are not being alienated by the government

The provost of St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow has claimed Christians care more about poverty than "non-existent persecution".

The Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth criticised Lord Carey's claims that the government had marginalised Christians.

The former archbishop of Canterbury's had said the prime minister's approach to gay marriage and religious freedom "encouraged aggressive secularism".

Provost Holdsworth said welfare reform and immigration were the real issues.

He used his Easter Day sermon to hit out at social security changes being introduced at the start of April 2013, and the UK's "broken immigration system".

He said: "To speak of the church as being marginalised and under attack because of same-sex marriage, whilst the government taxes the bedrooms of the poor and stirs up fear of foreigners is to remain trapped in the grave of Good Friday and be preaching the tired old story of yesterday, not the new life that God promises for all nor the kingdom God urges us to bring in."

Provost Holdsworth accused some members of political parties of "stirring up suspicion of foreigners in the media".

He claimed basic Christian values told him that "the government has got it wrong on welfare reform".

Gay marriage

Referring to same-sex marriage, the Provost said: "I believe that Christian marriage is a lifelong commitment made in love between two people. I see no reason why that should not be open to people of the same-sex.

"I look forward to an Easter Day when I can celebrate new marriages for gay members of my congregation just as I can for straight couples."

Lord Carey had said he believed that prime Minister David Cameron was sincere in his desire to make Britain a generous nation where we care for one another and where people of faith may exercise their beliefs fully.

He added: "But it was a bit rich to hear that the prime minister has told religious leaders that they should 'stand up and oppose aggressive secularisation' when it seems that his government is aiding and abetting this aggression every step of the way."

A Downing Street spokesman had rejected the criticism, saying Mr Cameron valued "the profound contribution" Christianity had made to UK life.

More on this story