Christians in Britain are being treated as “bigots” and sacked for expressing their beliefs, a former Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.
Lord Carey, who served as Archbishop from 1991 to 2002, also warned of a “drive to remove Judaeo-Christian values from the public square”.
He accused Britain’s courts of consistently applying “equality law to discriminate against Christians”.
The former Archbishop’s comments were made in a submission to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ahead of a landmark case on religious liberty.
Lord Carey wrote: “In a country where Christians can be sacked for manifesting their faith, are vilified by State bodies, are in fear of reprisal or even arrest for expressing their views on sexual ethics, something is very wrong.
“It affects the moral and ethical compass of the United Kingdom. Christians are excluded from many sectors of employment simply because of their beliefs; beliefs which are not contrary to the public good.”
However Keith Porteous-Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said: “The idea that there is any kind of suppression of religion in Britain is ridiculous.
“Even in the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to religious freedom is not absolute – it is not a licence to trample on the rights of others. That seems to be what Lord Carey wants to do.”
Lord Carey’s intervention comes as the ECHR prepares to hear the cases of four Christians who say the UK has failed to protect their religious liberty.
The hearing, which is due to start in September, will deal with the case of two workers forced out of their jobs over the wearing of crosses as a visible manifestation of their faith.
The third case involves a relationship counsellor who was sacked because he did not want to give sex advice to homosexual couples.
The fourth case involves Lillian Ladele, a Christian registrar who was disciplined for her stance on civil partnerships.