David Cameron has insisted that being a Christian helps make him a better politician.
His comments came as he became the first prime minister since Margaret Thatcher to attend Britain’s national parliamentary“prayer breakfast”.
It follows a debate over Mr Cameron’s remarks earlier this year that Britain is still a “Christian country” and that followers of the faith should be unashamedly “evangelical” about their beliefs.
Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, who is an atheist, also attended alongside 80 MPs, 20 peers and almost 600 churchgoers, campaigners and lobbyists for the early morning gathering in the medieval Westminster Hall.
It is understood that the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, was also invited but was unable to attend the event at which the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, spoke about global Christianity.
The Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, read a lesson from the book of Isaiah and Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs led prayers.
Mr Cameron, who sat at a table with Archbishop Welby, wrote a personal foreword to the programme for the event, saying that he believed Christianity could inspire politicians to “get out there and make a difference to people’s lives”.
He said the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast – modelled on an annual gathering in Washington DC which has been attended by every US president since Eisenhower – was a “special moment in the parliamentary calendar”.
“I believe very deeply that we should be confident in Britain about our status as a Christian country,” he said.
“So I think it is absolutely right that our Parliament should express this confidence through this annual prayer breakfast.
“Greater confidence in our Christianity can also inspire a stronger belief in our work as politicians to get out there and make a difference to people’s lives – and it should inspire our support for churches and faith organisations in the vital work they do in our society and around the world.
“Whatever our political parties and whatever our disagreements these are values we share.”
Mr Cameron’s remarks, in an article in Church Times earlier this year, that Britain is still a Christian country triggered a national debate about the status of religion.
Dozens of writers, scientists, philosophers and politicians responded with a letter to The Telegraph accusing Mr Cameron of sowing sectarianism and division by emphasising Christianity.
SOURCE: John Bingham