A devoutly Christian Conservative minister has claimed that secularism in Britain is “pushing more young Muslims into the arms of Islamic State”.
Delivering the annual Conservative Christian Fellowship lecture, Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb also said the danger posed by Islamic fundamentalists could not be defeated by increased secularism.
Britain’s “hard-edged secularism”, in fact, was “aiding and abetting” extremism, Crabb added.
“The answer to the seduction of ISIL is not a greater dose of secularism that delegitimises their faith in the public space”.
“If you push faith to the margins, then to the margins and into the shadows faith will be outworked,” he said.
Crabb, who is tipped as a contender to lead the Conservatives after David Cameron steps down and who voted against gay marriage, bemoaned the rejection of religion in mainstream political discourse.
“It is easier for a politician to admit to smoking weed or watching porn than it is to admit that they might take prayer seriously in their daily life,” he said.
“There is nothing to respect or admire about some watered-down common religious offering in the name of multiculturalism”, he added.
As well as secularists, Mr Crabb also took aim at what he described as the “shrill and angry Christian club which doesn’t like how society is changing around them.”
“No-one should be louder in their denunciation of graffiti attacks on mosques or verbal assaults on girls wearing hijabs than Christians”, he said.
Mr Crabb’s comments come in the same week as a major new study recommended that public life in Britain should be made more “inclusive” because of a “general decline” in Christianity.
The report, compiled by a panel chaired by former High Court judge Baroness Butler-Sloss, found that only two in five British people now identify as Christian.
Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism have now overtaken Judaism as the largest non-Christian faiths in the country, the report also found.