The Department of Administrative Affairs
13, Downing Street
London SW1A 2AA
Memorandum: Prime Ministerial Messages at Christian Festivals.
If, for political reasons, it is thought necessary for the PM to make such statements, the following guidelines should be followed.
- No reference should be made to the strictly theological significance of the festival. This department has drafted a number of neutral ‘messages’ equally suited to Christmas, Easter and other events (including royal weddings, baptisms and funerals). These will provide a useful template.
- We recommend a strong emphasis on shared values – without, of course, being unduly explicit as to what those values might be.
- Christianity, as everybody knows, is primarily about responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion and pride in working for the common good and honouring the social obligations we have to one another, to our families and our communities.
- If it is thought appropriate to refer to the place of Christianity in the history of the nation equal weight should also be given to cultural and religious diversity e.g. ‘the Christian heritage of this great nation has always made it a place of welcome for people of other traditions, especially those fleeing war and oppression’.
- If the PM has difficulty in adopting the right neutrality of tone, the Archbishop of Canterbury has kindly indicated that he is ready to share his own fund of expertise.