An evangelical minister who was at No 10 when the Prime Minister said Britain is a Christian country has praised his courage for making the controversial statement.

Gerald Coates, team leader at Pioneer Engage Church in Leatherhead, was among Christian leaders invited to meet Mr Cameron to celebrate Easter last week.

Mr Coates said that after some food, drink and discussions, the Prime Minister went to the microphone and said that he as a Christian, was helped greatly when his son died and he was supported by a Christian minister.

Mr Coates said: "He also made it clear that we are a Christian country, for which he was glad.

"He went on to express his thanks for the work churches are doing with food banks, youth work, debt counselling, and enhancing the life of thousands of local communities up and down the land.

"Secondly, he said he would be making his voice heard regarding the global persecution of Christians and said "We are the most persecuted religion in the world."

The pastor said he "absolutely agreed" with the Prime Minister that Christians are persecuted the world over: "We could be in a situation even in my lifetime when there are no Christians left in the Middle East as they have been hounded out."

He said Mr Cameron's speech felt "very genuine" and praised him for making such a strong religious statement, when other politicians have side-stepped the issue in the past. 

But, he added: "We are not cynics but the election is coming. 

"He knows that he has upset a major part of the Christian community by pushing through same-sex marriage without any proper discussion on it.  I don't agree with that.  I wouldn't marry two men."

Mr Coates said Mr Cameron said he wished church leaders were a lot more evangelistic, not just doing good work, but talking about it and explaining what the Gospel is, and how belief in Christ can change people. 

Mr Cameron's views have sparked national controversy in the past few days as it is a major departure from Tony Blair position as prime minister when he made clear he did not  "do God" - although, after he left office, he became a Roman Catholic.

Gerald Coates is also a broadcaster and last year co-wrote a book aimed at helping Christians who are addicted to porn called Sexual Healing - Identity, Sexuality, Calling.

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