Members of the Church of England, other faith groups and secularists have quickly responded to deny claims by Lord Carey that David Cameron’s “aggressively secular” government was marginalising Christians.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord George Carey, yesterday attacked David Cameron over his support for marriage equality, saying many Christians feel “persecuted” over the issue.

Lord Carey claimed many Christians were left with “anxieties” over the Prime Minister’s push for same-sex marriage, accusing him of coming across as insincere in his pledges to support faith leaders. He said he was “very suspicious” of the plans.

The Church of England moved quickly to distance itself from the comments, and suggesting that Lord Carey’s comments were personal, and not representative of those of the church.

Giles Fraser, former Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, said: ”I think it’s a very peculiar Easter message. I think Lord Carey is obsessed by gay sex and really ought to get over it. I also think that saying that Christians in Britain are persecuted is an insult to those Christians around the world who really are.”

Steve Chalke, an evangelical minister who recently came out in support of equal marriage, took to Twitter to rebuke the claims, saying: “The only way government has ‘discriminated’ against Christ is by targeting the poor and vulnerable whom Jesus calls us to protect.”

Some, however, spoke out in favour of the points made by Lord Carey. Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden, defended him, saying: ”I think what he actually said has been exaggerated, but at the core of the piece was a serious point. There is a crisis for us in terms of the way politicians and government undermine what we’re about as a church.”

Most were critical of the claims however, and Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society said: “I do actually think Lord Carey has a persecution complex. The idea is ridiculous when David Cameron is attacking secularists for trying to stop prayers before council meetings. The non-religious appear to be the only members of the country that it’s seen to be reasonable to discriminate against.”

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said: “Lord Carey’s hyperbolic interventions on this issue are becoming as ludicrous as they are predictable. His increasingly desperate attempt to work up a victim narrative where Christians are marginalised and persecuted has no basis in reality.

“Time and again the vast majority of the claims of discrimination against Christians that have been tested in the courts have been assessed by impartial judges and found baseless.”

Despite the claims, the Prime Minister used his Easter message to commend the “incredible role” player by Christian churches in Britain and worldwide.

“As long as I am prime minister, they will have the support of this government,” he said.

In an Easter Sunday interview, the new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, said that the Church of England must remain “graceful” in its internal disagreements around equal marriage.

Yesterday, the YouGov Easter Sunday poll  found that more than two-thirds (69%) of the population believe that the Church of England is out of touch with society and half (54%) believe that it does a bad job of providing moral leadership. Almost half disagree with its stance on same-sex marriage.