Rowan Williams: 'Grow up, UK Christians are not persecuted'

THE FORMER Archbishop of Canterbury has warned Christians in the Western world against complaining they are "persecuted".

Dr Rowan Williams said the claim makes him feel "very uneasy" and suggested people in Britain who complain they face discrimination or ill-treatment because of their beliefs should "grow up", reports the Daily Telegraph.

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival today, Williams said that "not being taken very seriously" or "being made fun of" in Britain and the United States is not comparable to the suffering of people elsewhere in the world.

"When you have any contact with real persecuted minorities you learn to use the word 'persecuted' very chastely," he said.

Williams, who stood down from his role as Archbishop last year and is now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, acknowledged that Christians "are made to feel uncomfortable at times".

But he added: "Don't confuse it with the systematic brutality and often murderous hostility which means that every morning you get up wondering if you and your children are going to make it through the day.

"That is different, it's real. It's not quite what we're facing in Western society."

A ComRes poll, carried out in March this year, found more than two thirds of its Christian respondents felt they were now part of a "persecuted minority".

Williams's predecessor Lord Carey spoke out at the time, accusing David Cameron of feeding fears of Christian persecution.

"Their fears may be exaggerated because few in the UK are actually persecuted," he said, "but the Prime Minister has done more than any other recent political leader to feed these anxieties."

In one example, Carey suggested the coalition did not support a number of Christians battling to wear a crucifix at work.

Rather than blaming the prime minister, Williams today suggested there was a general cultural habit of making light of religion, reinforced by "a lot of the press and by our entertainment".

But he added: "I don't lose a lot of sleep over it." · 

More on Rowan Williams: 'Grow up, UK Christians are not persecuted'