Mounting equality laws have made Britain a “cold place for Christians”, according to a senior Bishop.
The Bishop of Winchester, Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt, made his comments in a foreword for a new report published by CARE (Christian Action Research and Education).
The Bishop wrote: “The sad fact is that Britain – which owes so much to its Christian heritage – is increasingly becoming a ‘cold’ place which, as any reflection on the fruit of Christian good works will demonstrate, is not in the general interest of society.”
He said there appeared to be a concerted attack on the rights of Christians and when there were clashes, the rights of other groups triumphed.
The new report, which is the first of two key reports from the CARE Equalities Series, comes in response to religious liberty concerns surrounding two pieces of proposed legislation.
The Government’s new Equality Bill and the EU Equal Treatment Directive both threaten to make life even more difficult for Christians, CARE says.
The report explores the growing political pressures for Christians to keep their faith private amid the introduction of more and more ‘equality’ laws.
It cites a number of recent cases where Christian freedoms in the UK have been restricted.
It mentions Lillian Ladele, a Christian registrar who was told by her employer she must perform homosexual civil partnerships or face dismissal.
The case of Jennie Cain is also cited. Mrs Cain is a part-time school receptionist. She was reprimanded because she asked friends to pray about an incident involving her little girl being scolded at the school for talking about her faith.
The CARE report commemorates the work of William Wilberforce and celebrates the 175th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.
The author of the report, Dr Dan Boucher, commented: “It is extraordinary that at the very time the Government has introduced its Equality Bill – with all its negative implications for faith – we are about to celebrate the 175th anniversary of one of the greatest achievements of the public manifestation of faith in the history of the UK, the release of all British colonial slaves.”
Nola Leach, CARE’s Chief Executive, said: “We hope this first report in the CARE Equalities Series will help politicians and policy shapers understand the unfortunate impact of recent equalities laws on Christians and the imperative for change.
“Britain can benefit from the manifestation of Christian belief just as much today as it did in 1834 when the slaves were liberated, but our laws must be fit for purpose.
“We also hope that the report will be widely read by Christians and that it will help them gain a greater understanding of the impact of recent equalities legislation, the Equality Bill currently before Parliament and the very considerable way in which public Christianity has benefited the UK in the past.”