- (Photo: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett)
Great Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron heavily referenced the Christian religion in an annual Christmas address to the nation on Monday, Dec. 24, in spite of recent tensions between his administration and religious groups regarding the issue of same-sex marriage, which looks set to be legalized in the country by 2015.
"2012 has been an extraordinary year for our country. We cheered our Queen to the rafters with the Jubilee, showed the world what we're made of by staging the most spectacular Olympic and Paralympic Games ever and - let's not forget - punched way above our weight in the medals table," Cameron told the country in his Christmas address.
"But Christmas also gives us the opportunity to remember the Christmas story - the story about the birth of Jesus Christ and the hope that he brings to the countless millions who follow him," Cameron continued.
"The Gospel of John tells us that in this man was life, and that his life was the light of all mankind, and that he came with grace, truth and love. Indeed, God's word reminds us that Jesus was the Prince of Peace," Cameron added.
"So however you celebrate this time of year, it is my hope and prayer that you have a happy and peaceful Christmas," the prime minister concluded his Christmas message.
Tensions have been high between various religious groups in England, including the Church of England and the Church in Whales, regarding Cameron's aggressive push to legalize same-sex marriage.
In early December, Cameron voiced his support for same-sex marriage ceremonies to be performed in churches, a move which Church authorities argue would only further complicate the legal process regarding gay marriage, and would put churches further at risk for discrimination complaints, should they still choose not to perform same-sex marriages.
Cameron has also been criticized for his own religious affiliation, as he has previously told The Guardian in a 2008 interview that regarding religion, he believes he identifies with many other English citizens:
"We are racked with doubts, but sort of fundamentally believe, but don't sort of wear it on our sleeves or make too much of it. I think that is sort of where I am."
In his 2012 Christmas address, Cameron also thanked members of Great Britain's servicemen and women, as well as congratulated the country on its participation in hosting the 2012 Olympic Games in London.