‘Christianity is being squeezed out of Whitehall’

Tue, 5 Jan 2016

Christianity is being “silenced” in the public sector and quietly ‘squeezed out’ of national life, according to a former civil service chief.

William Nye, who spent 20 years in a series of prominent Whitehall posts, said that a “secularising spirit” has engulfed the civil service and has led to a culture where speaking about faith is “not the done thing”.

He said that the general public would be surprised at the extent to which faith is seen as “odd and unusual” in the public sector.

‘Unaware’

Mr Nye, who has recently been appointed as the Church of England’s most senior lay official, said that Christians working in the civil service rarely reveal their faith for fear of being seen as biased.

“Personal friends might have revealed to me that they are Christians but other people in Government, central Government departments, wouldn’t do that. They wouldn’t let it be known that they were Christians.”

He added: “I think people who aren’t in the public sector don’t realise quite how that secularising spirit has led to the silencing of Christians in a way that isn’t actually, I think, what people nationally want, or people are necessarily aware of.”

‘Margins’

Last month, a Cabinet Minister said that: “It is easier for a politician to admit to smoking weed or watching porn than it is to admit that they might take prayer seriously in their daily life”.

Stephen Crabb, the Secretary of State for Wales, made the comment while speaking at the annual Conservative Christian Fellowship lecture.

Mr Crabb argued that in our current culture, “faith gets squeezed further into the margins of public life and religion becomes delegitimised through suspicion, fear or ridicule”.

Watered down

He criticised the “watering down of religious belief” which aims to “satisfy everyone and pleases no-one”.

“There is nothing to respect or admire about some watered-down common religious offering in the name of multiculturalism.”