One in four Christians said they thought they suffered discrimination in the workplace from colleagues
One in three Christians claim to have suffered discrimination because of their religious views, according to a new poll.
The survey by the BBC shows unprecedented disquiet among church-going Britons amid claims they increasingly face prejudice in the media, the workplace and even in their own communities.
It follows a series of high-profile rows over unfair treatment towards Christians, including the case of the British Airways worker who was banned from wearing a crucifix, while Muslim employees were allowed to wear headscarfs.
A third of those polled by the BBC’s religious programme Heaven And Earth, claim Christians experience discrimination in the way the media portrays them.
One in four said they thought they suffered discrimination in the workplace from colleagues.
And more than one in five said they thought Christians faced discrimination in their local communities.
It reflects a growing unease that Labour multiculturalism has led to ethnic minority faiths such as Islam and Hinduism being given special treatment.
Meanwhile, there is a fear that the historic importance of Christianity in British life has been pushed to the sidelines.
The BBC has itself been accused of blasphemy because of its decision to screen the controversial show Jerry Springer – The Opera, despite its profane portrayal of God and heaven.
Today’s Heaven And Earth programme, presented by Gloria Hunniford, will focus on an example of Government prejudice against a Christian-run drug treatment centre.
Yeldall Manor in Berkshire offers successful residential treatment for young men addicted to drugs or alcohol.
The centre is run by evangelical Christians and the regime includes Bible study sessions and grace before meals.
However, their doors are open to addicts of all backgrounds.
William Hague praised its work when he was Tory leader.
But director Ken Wiltshire reveals how John Prescott’s Office of the Deputy Prime Minister tried to cut their funding because they failed to meet Labour’s ‘equal opportunities’ criteria.
He said: “We had been doing a good job helping former addicts move back into the community. So when we went for our routine review with officials we thought we would have no problems.
“But they kept asking us questions about why our staff were exclusively Christian and why there had to be a Christian component to our regime.
“There is no doubt there was prejudice against us because we are Christians. They think we are a bit odd.”
Yeldall Manor kept its funding but only after a vigorous local campaign.
Recently, Church leaders launched an outspoken campaign against new Labour legislation that will force Christian adoption agencies to offer children to prospective parents who are homosexual.
Tory MP and prominent Roman Catholic Ann Widdecombe said:
“We should stand together and fight this discrimination. Christians are being marginalised, yet it is the established religion of this country.”
The Rev Malcolm Duncan, of Christian campaigning group Faithworks, added:
“The Christian church is suffering more than all other faiths in the UK.
There is an aggressive secularist agenda that says it’s OK to support any group ending in “ism” but not OK to support anything connected to Christianity.”
From the Heaven and Earth website:
The Rev Malcolm Duncan, who leads the Christian campaigning group Faithworks, said: “The Christian church is suffering more than all other faiths in the UK. There is an aggressive secularist agenda that says it’s ok to support any group ending in “ism” but it’s not ok to support anything connected to Christianity.”
But some Christians think their fellow believers are overstating the case. Bishop David Gillett, The Bishop of Bolton, said: “Religion is big news these days, so people have become more conscious of faith issues. That means Christians are now finding decisions going against them in a more high-profile way. But it’s a case of those issues getting more attention, rather than there being more discrimination.”