British Prime Minister David Cameron has encouraged Britons to take pride in the country's Christian roots and to use the Easter season as a time to remember the persecution of believers around the world.
In delivering his annual Easter message on Sunday, Cameron said, "Across Britain, Christians don't just talk about 'loving thy neighbor', they live it out... in faith schools, in prisons, in community groups.
"And it's for all these reasons that we should feel proud to say, 'This is a Christian country.' The church is not just a collection of beautiful old buildings. It is a living, active force doing great works across our country."
After his severely disabled son Ivan died in 2009, Cameron revealed that the Christian community had served as a tremendous source of encouragement: '[I know] from the most difficult times in my own life, that the kindness of the church can be a huge comfort," he explained.
The PM, who previously described his Christianity as "evangelical," explained that while Britain is a nation that welcomes and accepts all faiths, it is nevertheless a Christian country, and thus has a responsibility to speak out about the persecution of Christians worldwide.
"It is truly shocking to know that in 2015 there are still Christians being threatened, tortured, even killed, because of their faith from Egypt to Nigeria, Libya to North Korea," he said.
"Across the Middle East, Christians have been hounded out of their homes, forced to flee from village to village, many of them forced to renounce their faith or be brutally murdered. To all those brave Christians in Iraq and Syria who are practising their faith, or sheltering others, we must say, 'We stand with you'."
Reflecting on the humility of Jesus Christ, Cameron later emphasized that Easter is a time to reflect on the core values of Christianity: responsibility, charity, compassion, humility, forgiveness and love.
"The Gospels remind us that Jesus gave us this golden rule: 'Love God and love thy neighbour'," he said."This lies at the very heart of what that golden rule is about, and underpins the enormous contribution Christianity continues to make to building a bigger and stronger society and enhancing the wellbeing of this country."
This is not the first time Cameron has publically proclaimed his nation's adherance to Christianity. Last year, he argued that because Britain is a "Christian country," Christians should be "more evangelical" about their faith. At the time, many notable British scientists, authors and intellectuals were quick to object, saying that Cameron's assertions created "alienation and division in our society."
However, other religious leaders defended the PM, saying the UK has "historically" and "culturally" been a Christian country since its formation.
Anil Bhanot, managing director of Hindu Council UK, said he was "very comfortable" with the UK being defined as a Christian country, stating that many Hindu people celebrated Christmas and Easter.
"People can secularize those traditions but it doesn't take away from the fact that the country was based in Christian traditions," he said, according to the BBC.
Christina Rees, a member of the General Synod, the highest governing body of the Church of England, said she was impressed Cameron had the "confidence" to talk about his faith.
In addition, Muslim Council of Britain secretary general Farooq Murad said the UK was undeniably a Christian country, and had "deep historical and structural links" to Christianity.
"A sense of the sacred is to be cherished", he said, asserting he believed the UK would be a stronger country if it practiced "recognizing and celebrating" people with and without religion "living in harmony".