Local councils are flying the flag for Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism to mark days in those faiths’ calendars, but church groups have faced opposition simply for placing posters in public libraries.
The plethora of causes supported by local councils was revealed in a new survey for The Sunday Telegraph.
It shows that as well as flying the homosexual rainbow flag at least once a year, Brighton and Hove Council also hoists the Transgender Pride flag on Transgender Day in November.
In Brighton last year a Sunday school teacher was told she couldn’t put up a poster at her local library to advertise a church children’s event because it ‘promoted religion’.
At the time Brighton and Hove Council commented: “In the interests of fairness, we have very clear and strict guidelines for displaying information in the library and we do not accept any material promoting a particular religious view point.”
In March this year a church poster was banned from a public library in Sunderland because town hall officials claimed it could ‘offend’ other faiths. Local Muslims and Sikhs blasted the move and the decision was reversed.
Last September a Roman Catholic group was told it couldn’t advertise an event on religion and climate change in local libraries unless it removed words like ‘Christian’ and ‘God’ from the text.
In the new survey for The Sunday Telegraph it has been revealed that councils are showing endorsement for such diverse occasions as Rastafarian days, a Tibetan independence day and the winter and summer solstices, when a Druid flag is hoisted by a Leicestershire council.
The survey also showed that in Wigan the council commissioned a report to make sure that its protocol for flags fitted with the authority’s diversity policy.
In March Kayll Road Library staff in Sunderland stopped a member of St Gabriel’s Church putting up a poster advertising the Women’s World Day of Prayer, claiming council policy prohibited them from displaying it.
But after leaders from the city’s other religions spoke out against the ban Sunderland Council reversed the decision and said it was reviewing its guidelines. Adbur Rouf, of Sunderland Mosque, said it was hard to understand how anyone could find the poster offensive.
Last year a Roman Catholic group, Our Lady Help of Christians in Kentish Town, wanted to put up posters advertising an event on green issues and religion.
The posters advertised a talk entitled Climate Change is a Christian Issue, a visit from a member of the Christian Ecology Link and a Pet Blessing, along with a performance by a local school choir.
But Camden Council said that while it was happy to promote events supporting green issues, it would not allow any posters promoting religion.
Organisers of the Roman Catholic event said the North London council had been supportive in the past and said they could not understand why their stance had changed.
In July last year, staff at Jubilee Library in Brighton banned Jacalyn Oghan’s poster inviting children of any faith to “come along and have fun” at a craft, singing and drama day at her church.
Mrs Oghan said: “Many Christians in the community are already too frightened to speak up.
“I was made to feel as if my poster was somehow offensive or dangerous.”
In 2009 The Christian Institute produced a report on instances of Christians being sidelined in modern Britain.
It said a “growing sense of intolerance felt by Christians is made all the worse when they face hostility in the name of ‘equality and diversity’. Christians wonder why they are not being treated equally and why diversity does not include them”.
Read Marginalising Christians.