The Labour Party looked “ridiculous” for creating a culture which marginalised Christians, a candidate for the Party’s leadership has said.
Andy Burnham said his party needed to apologise for the culture that saw nurses being attacked for wearing a cross.
However he also criticised the Church for getting involved in moral issues, saying it had been “too black and white”.
Mr Burnham made the comments earlier this month in Methodist Central Hall at a hustings hosted by the Christian Socialist Movement.
Speaking at the event, which all the Labour leadership candidates attended, Mr Burnham also said that the Party had recently “lost its way” in relations with the churches.
Commenting on his religious background, another of the candidates, David Miliband said: “I’m not a religious person but actually I’m a person of faith. I have faith in people”.
Ed Balls defended faith schools saying they encouraged community cohesion.
Earlier this month Government Minister Eric Pickles said Christians should not be “sidelined” for their faith.
In an interview with the Sunday Express he said: “I am determined to ensure that Christians are not seen as some kind of strange sidelined religion.
“Religious tolerance is immensely important. Religion has a valued and important role in binding our society together and is a vital part of the cultural fabric of the English and British nations.
“Labour tried to force Britons to turn their back on faith and heritage in the name of political correctness.”
In December 2008 nurse Caroline Petrie from Somerset was suspended because bosses said her offer to pray for a patient broke “equality and diversity” rules.
Later her employers, North Somerset Primary Care Trust, invited her back to work after widespread media coverage of her story.
In March this year it came to light that Shirley Chaplin, a Christian NHS nurse, was told she could not wear a cross on hospital wards. She later lost a claim for discrimination.