RELIGION
12/01/2010 07:48 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Former Church of England Head Bemoans Secularization of Christmas

By Al Webb
Religion News Service

LONDON -- Former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey has slammed attempts to "air-brush" Christianity out of society -- a trend he said is gaining speed as Christmas nears.

Carey claimed Britain's "rich legacy" of Christian culture is "under attack" and that Christmas itself is being "re-branded" as a secular festival.

Lord Carey, who led the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion from 1991 to 2002, made his remarks in a leaflet issued Wednesday (Dec. 1) by the group Christian Concern as part of its "Not-Ashamed Day" campaign to promote its faith.

"The Christian faith is in danger of being stealthily and subtly brushed aside," he said. "This attempt to air-brush the Christian faith out of the picture is especially obvious as Christmas approaches."

Carey cited the trend by town halls across Britain to switch on so-called "winter lights" in place of Christmas decorations. "Even Christmas has become something of which some are ashamed," he said.

He also noted that "cards that used to carry Christmas wishes now bear `season's greetings"' and that "the local school nativity play is watered down or disappears altogether."

Carey cited cases where a nurse was banned from her job for wearing a cross and a British Airways worker was ordered by the company to remove her crucifix necklace.

Christian Concern, which promotes the rights of Christians to openly express their beliefs, says its own opinion poll showed only 10 percent of those surveyed believed that religion formed the most important aspect of Christmas.

The group said copies of Carey's leaflet had been delivered to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and to Prime Minister David Cameron's home and offices at 10 Downing Street in London.