Sometimes the authorities really are “out to get” Christians in Britain, a senior figure in the Church of England has warned.
Revd Dr Malcolm Brown said that many groups agreed that a housing trust’s decision to discipline a Christian employee for comments he made about civil partnerships was “crazy” and “bonkers”.
He cited the way Roman Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to either close or ditch their religious ethos as an example of an unnecessary restriction on religious groups.
Dr Brown, the Church’s Director of Mission and Public Affairs, said: “It’s a constant tension in being a Christian in a country that’s still on the whole comfortable for Christians.
“That said, I think there is a problem. It relates to what I said earlier about power, because when a body that was formerly had its worldview taken as normal for most people, feels it’s no longer in the driving seat, there’s naturally a sense of unease, anxiety and loss.
“Which comes out as a sense of ‘they’re out to get us’. But sometimes they are out to get us.”
Dr Brown added: “The case of the Catholic adoption agencies is a locus classicus for all of us of a case where no apparent harm would have been caused for anyone had the decision been made to allow different sorts of adoption agencies to flourish according to their worldview.”
Dr Brown’s stark warning came as he appeared before a parliamentary inquiry, chaired by Gary Streeter MP, into the marginalisation of Christianity.
Last month it emerged that Adrian Smith had been demoted and had his pay slashed by forty per cent after he described the registration of civil partnerships in churches as “an equality too far”.
In September police officers in Blackpool told the owner of a Christian café to stop displaying bible texts, claiming that it breached public order laws.
And Christian registrar Lillian Ladele, a marriage registrar who was disciplined because she asked whether her religious beliefs about same-sex civil partnerships could be accommodated in her workplace, is currently taking her case to Europe.