British Prime Minister David Cameron has said Christianity is now the most persecuted religion around the world, and that Britain should be "unashamed" in standing up against persecution of Christians and other religious groups.
"I hope we can do more to raise the profile of the persecution of Christians around the world," Cameron said in an opening speech at his Easter reception at Downing Street. "It is the case today that our religion is now the most persecuted religion around the world. I think Britain can play a leading role in this."
Cameron said Britain had met its obligations in terms of the aid it gives to countries around the world. "We're seen as a country which is engaged internationally."
Foreign Secretary William Hague and Foreign Office Minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi agreed with the prime minister on the need to raise a voice against religious persecution, Cameron said.
"We should stand up against persecution of Christians and other religious groups wherever and whenever we can, and should be unashamed in doing so," he said.
"Muslims and Jews experienced six-year highs in the number of countries in which they were harassed by national, provincial or local governments," according to a report by the Pew Research Center, which says that Christians remain the world's most oppressed religious group with persecution against them reported in 110 countries.
Cameron in his speech Thursday also said he is "proud to be a Christian myself and to have my children at a church school."
"I often get my moment of greatest peace – not every week, I'm ashamed to say, but perhaps every other week I pop in to the Thursday morning sung Eucharist beautiful service in St Mary Abbots, and I find a little bit of peace and hopefully a little bit of guidance," he added. "I am proud of the fact we're a Christian country and we shouldn't be ashamed to say so."
The British prime minister also said there was a need to expand the role of faith and faith organizations in the country.
Cameron said the church and political institutions "can get wrapped up in bureaucracy; we both sometimes can talk endlessly about policies and programmes and plans without explaining what that really means for people's lives."
What the church and political institutions need more of, is evangelism, he added. "More belief that we can get out there and actually change people's lives and make a difference and improve both the spiritual, physical and moral state of our country, and we should be unashamed and clear about wanting to do that. And I'm sure there are people here of all political persuasions and no political persuasions, and I'm certainly not asking you to agree with everything the government does, but I hope you can see – hopefully more than moments, but real moments of evangelism, enthusiasm and wanting to make our world a better place."