Christians should not have to suppress their faith when doing good in their communities, the Government Minister for Civil Society has said.
Speaking at a Christian conference, Tracey Crouch also said believers should not hold themselves back from seeking Government support for their work.
She declared: “I very much appreciate that, for so many of you, the inspiration to do such amazing acts of service in your communities comes directly from your Christian faith.”
Crouch, the Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford, was speaking at a conference run by the Christian finance charity Stewardship.
She said: “I know that some of you here feel that successive governments and local authorities have wanted to applaud all the good things that you do as Christians, but discourage you from speaking openly about the faith that motivates you”.
But Crouch added: “I assure you that that is not the intention and I encourage you to challenge anyone in government who makes you feel you need to suppress your faith.”
…these sentiments need to be echoed right across Government.
Noting churches’ “exceptional local networks”, she urged Christians to emphasise such positives when speaking with civil servants.
The Christian Institute has supported numerous people who have sought to live out their lives in accordance with their faith, but faced official opposition.
In 2013, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the law did not permit Christian hoteliers Peter and Hazelmary Bull to allow only heterosexual married couples to share a double bed.
Lillian Ladele, a Christian registrar, also lost her European court case in the same year after she told Islington Council about her conscientious objection to same-sex civil partnerships.
More recently Ashers Baking Company is being sued by a taxpayer-funded group after its Christian owners politely declined to produce a campaign cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage”.
Ciarán Kelly, Deputy Director at The Christian Institute, said: “Religious illiteracy is sadly rife across public life so it is positive to see Tracey Crouch recognising that Christians express their faith out of love for Jesus Christ.
“However, as we’ve seen many times, Christians often face hostility for living out their faith. So if believers are to stand for Christ without having to worry about official sanction, these sentiments need to be echoed right across Government.”