London, June 9 : British Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has defended the Labour Government's policy on religion, and said it is "common sense" for Christianity to be sidelined at the expense of Islam.
A report commissioned by the Church of England criticised the Labour Government for paying "lip service" to Christianity and favouring Islam and other minority religions. The damning study criticised the policies of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for focusing "intently" on minority beliefs while neglecting the Anglican faith.
Blears said it was right that more money and effort was spent on Islam than Christianity because of the threat from extremism and homegrown terrorism, The Telegraph reported.
Blears told BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme: "That's just common sense. If we've got an issue where we have to build resilience of young Muslim men and women to withstand an extremist message."
"We live in a secular democracy. That's a precious thing. We don't live in a theocracy, but we've always accepted that hundreds of thousands of people are motivated by faith. We live in a secular democracy but we want to recognise the role of faith," she added.
The Church of England bishop responsible for the report, the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, said afterwards: "Blears said we live in a secular democracy. That comes as news to me -- we have an established Church, but the Government can't deal with Christianity."
The 180-page report, entitled "Moral, But No Compass" shows how church leaders feel betrayed by the Government.
It also echoes claims made by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, last week that the decline of Christian values is destroying Britishness and has created a "moral vacuum" which radical Islam is filling.