A call to embrace Britain’s Christian heritage
In contrast to the United States, the deity is rarely invoked on the campaign trail or in political speeches.
Sayeeda Warsi also said that “militant secularism” poses a threat to Europe, a comment that has angered atheists and highlighted the divisive political potential of religion.
Ms. Warsi’s views will strike a chord with some religious Britons who feel threatened by growing secularization and by recent anti-discrimination cases, including one that saw Christian hoteliers fined for refusing to allow a gay couple to stay in a double room.
“You cannot and should not extract [the] Christian foundations from the evolution of our nations any more than you can or should erase the spires from our landscapes,” she wrote.
“My fear today is that a militant secularization is taking hold of our societies,” she added, accusing some atheists of having the same intolerant instincts as authoritarian regimes.
In advance extracts from a speech she will deliver in Rome, Ms. Warsi said religion has been “neglected, undermined - and, yes, even attacked” by recent British governments.
She said Britain has become a place where “faith is looked down on as the hobby of ‘oddities, foreigners and minorities.’ “
Evan Harris, a former Liberal Democrat lawmaker and vice president of the British Humanist Association, said Ms. Warsi’s talk of militant secularism is “self-serving paranoia.”
“There is nothing militant about calling for an end to blasphemy and apostasy laws or wanting religious persecution of women and gay people to end,” he said.
“Secular liberal democracy, which involves the separation of church and state and an end to religious privilege, is the best guarantor of religious liberty and free expression.”