When ‘diversity rules’ are used to justify suspending a nurse who offered to pray for a patient’s recovery, as happened to Caroline Petrie on 17 December 2008, something has gone very wrong in modern Britain. This report examines the growing marginalisation of Christians and catalogues cases of discrimination.
More than nine in ten Christians (93 per cent) responding to a Premier Christian Radio survey say they feel their faith is being marginalised by society.
Premier found that nearly half of respondents said they have personally experienced prejudice as a result of their faith, and over a quarter said they feel unable to be open about their beliefs in the workplace. Premier contacted Christians by post and online.
‘The State of the Faith’ survey has had almost twelve thousand respondents, and just 18 per cent said they believe that Christianity is given the same respect in society as other worldviews and religions.
Peter Kerridge, Chief Executive of Premier Christian Radio, said: “It’s clear that we are not the liberal accepting society we think we are if we don’t tolerate and accept everyone, including Christians.
“People of faith, from all religions should be allowed to live and work in freedom.”
He added: “These are ordinary Christians who feel overwhelmingly that their Christian beliefs are being marginalised and that as a result it is becoming far more difficult to live as a person of faith in the UK.”
Deputy Director for Public Affairs at The Christian Institute, Simon Calvert, said he was not surprised to hear Christians feel marginalised.
The survey also found that 70 per cent of 15 to 19-year-old’s who responded to Premier said they had “personally experienced prejudice against my faith”.
It was the age group with the largest proportion that agreed with the statement.
Mr Calvert added: “I think that’s very telling. I, personally think it is particularly difficult for Christian young people.”
He continued: “We have to ask ourselves: ‘What are schools doing about that? What is the Department for Education doing about that?’
“Because actually my feeling is that rather than being part of the solution to Christian young people at school feeling marginalised, the education system is part of the problem.
“It’s got an obsession with certain values, certain ideas, the so-called ‘British values’ test that Ofsted are applying, it’s all contributing to an atmosphere for Christian young people where it can be very hostile for them in schools.
“Something needs to be done about that and I think it’s about time the Department for Education started listening to the experiences of Christian young people.”
Last month, the new head of schools’ regulator Ofsted vowed to continue the Government’s controversial ‘British values’ drive.
In her first official speech since the General Election, Amanda Spielman said she would continue the work of her predecessor Sir Michael Wilshaw.
She said the promotion of so-called ‘British values’ will be determined by individual inspectors, adding, “there isn’t a prescribed translation of it, so schools will have to work it out”.
The Christian Institute has consistently raised concerns over the subjective nature of ‘British values’.
The Institute’s Education Officer John Denning said Spielman’s assertions would be “particularly concerning” for headteachers of faith schools.
“The worry is that this will encourage Ofsted inspectors to put pressure on, or even fail schools, based on their own subjective opinions of what constitutes ‘British values’. This will continue to leave schools vulnerable to inspectors’ personal biases.”
The Westminster Government is proposing that Ofsted inspect church youth work in England to see if it complies with the vague ‘British values’ test. The Welsh Government is proposing to inspect church youth work in Wales to ensure children are learning “tolerance of different faiths and beliefs” and being protected from “undesirable teaching”.
Church youth work
As part of its ‘British values’ drive, the Government has proposed sending Ofsted inspectors into churches to inspect youth work.
To find out more, visit our Ofsted page.