Labour grandee Roy Hattersley, an atheist, says it is “preposterous” that someone should be prevented from wearing a cross at work.
He hailed religious expression an “elementary civil right” in a BBC radio debate.
Lord Hattersley made the comments on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions – and the panel agreed that Christians should not be banned from wearing the cross.
Peter Hennessy – an historian and cross-bench peer – asked why “an ounce of nervous energy” was being “wasted” on banning crosses.
Conservative peer Norman Tebbit said Christianity was being “constantly” attacked in Britain.
And Carole Stone, the chairman of the research group YouGov Stone, labelled the situation “absolutely ridiculous”.
The panel was discussing the recent cases in the European Court of Human Rights involving four Christians who say the UK Government failed to protect their religious liberty.
Two of the cases involve Nadia Ewedia and Shirley Chaplin – who both wanted to wear a cross at work.
Lord Hattersley, a Labour Peer who described himself as an atheist, said he had spent decades defending the right of Muslims and Sikhs to express their religion in public.
He commented that “exactly the same right should apply to Christians”.
Lord Hennessy said there were plenty of other issues to be concerned about instead of getting “tangled up” on the issue.
And Lord Tebbit commented that a Muslim or Jewish person would not be pressured to go against their religion, “so why do we pick on Christians?”.
The cases at the European Court of Human Rights also include that of Lillian Ladele who was disciplined for her stance on civil partnerships.
Miss Ladele’s legal case is being supported by The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund. A decision from the court on the case is not expected for several months.