ComRes: British Christians suffer discrimination, rejection and persecution
Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury) (Con): On the last day of term, may I appeal for a debate during the forthcoming term on prejudice against Christians in a growing proportion of the public services? On top of a string of incidents involving health service and local authority workers being penalised for offering to pray for people, for saying “God bless” to them and so on, the worst case of all must be that of the foster mother who had fostered a large number of children in care and provided a loving home for them, but who lost her job and with it her house because a 16-year-old girl she was fostering chose to convert to Christianity. May I urge the Leader of the House to consider this a worthy subject for a debate in the House?
Ms Harman: I shall refer the hon. Gentleman’s point to the relevant Minister in the Department for Children, Schools and Families. This is really just a matter of basic good practice and common sense. There is nothing in any law or guidance that requires people to act daft.
So there you have it. There is nothing in any law or guidance that requires people to act daft, and so Mr Brazier’s request for a debate was denied. Perhaps Parliament might consider enacting a law which penalises politicians who act daft, or other public sector workers who do.
But it is not the compulsion to ‘act daft’ which ought to concern Ms Harperson, but the pervasive politically-correct self-censorship and intolerance manifest towards Christians which come as a direct consequence of Labour’s equality agenda. It is this which challenges the nation’s long tradition of religious tolerance, which was not easily won (and in some corners has still not been).
The Sunday Telegraph carries the results of a poll of the UK’s churchgoers, and its results are alarming. Indeed, if these were the findings of a poll of mosque-goers, the Government would not only throw millions of pounds at the problem, it would legislate for a programme of further positive discrimination to ensure that Muslims were being given ‘fair treatment’.
75 per cent said that there is now less religious freedom in the UK than there was 20 years ago.
50 per cent of British Christians revealed that they had suffered some sort of persecution for their faith.
44 per cent said they had been mocked by friends, neighbours or colleagues for daring to be Christian.
20 per cent said that they had faced opposition at work because of their beliefs.
19 per cent said they had been ‘ignored’ or ‘excluded’ for the same reason.
10 per cent said they have been rejected by family members.
5 per cent said they had been turned down for promotion because of their faith.
5 per cent also declared that they had been reprimanded or cautioned at work for sharing their faith.
Cranmer has a few observations on these results:
Firstly, he wonders at the perception of those 25 per cent of Christians who believe that religious freedom in the UK has not been diminished under New Labour. He does not understand how any discerning believer cannot be persuaded that a decade of ‘equality’ legislation has not created a hierarchy of rights in the UK, in which those of the church are increasingly subject to the superior rights of minority groups. The Equality Bill currently passing through Parliament is just the latest and potentially most oppressive attempt to impose politically-correct attitudes and eradicate all that fall foul of Labour’s acceptability criteria. This is an ideological agenda to destroy Britain’s foundational Christian ethical principles and replace them with an ‘anything goes’ secular nihilism.
Secondly, if a colossal 56 have never even been mocked for their faith, and 50 per cent have not ever endured some sort of persecution for their faith, he wonders what sort of Christian they are and what sort of witness they manifest.
And of the 5 per cent who profess to have been turned down for promotion because of their faith, while not doubting that some may have been, it must be observed that it is easy to put one’s deficiencies down to one’s faith. If a Christian be genuinely persuaded that their lack of promotion is purely because of their faith, there is remedy in law for this to be challenged.
These caveats aside, Cranmer has covered some of the more high-profile instances of Christian persecution. But it appears that things are about to get a whole lot worse. New guidelines have been drawn up by the tolerant and enlightened British Humanist Association (with the generous assistance of a £35,000 grant from the taxpayer-funded Equality and Human Rights Commission) to discourage evangelism in the workplace. Christians who seek to share their faith with their colleagues are ‘highly likely’ to be accused of harassment, and consequently suspended or dismissed.
Andrew Copson, director of education at the BHA, claimed that attempts to convert colleagues could amount to harassment under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. He said: "The law specifically protects people from being intimidated or confronted with a hostile environment in the workplace. Systematically undermining someone's beliefs or persistently attempting to convert someone would lead to the creation of a hostile environment.”
It has been observed by church leaders, politicians and churchgoers that there is an increasing intolerance towards Christianity in Britain. It appears to be the one faith which Parliament refuses to debate, and the one faith with which the EHRC declines to concern itself.
It must be the lesson of history that the primary foundational tenet of a liberal society is that it grants religious groups the freedom to practise their religious faith and live by their precepts. Preventing them from doing so is profoundly illiberal and oppressive. But how can one preserve religious tolerance in a country which is becoming increasingly intolerant of the faith by which that tolerance developed? For how much longer should Christians tolerate the intolerant?