Christians who discuss their faith with a colleague or wear a cross to work must be protected from discrimination, the Church of England has warned.
Yesterday the Church’s General Synod heard how senior Anglican bishops have met with the Government to raise concerns about the ‘chilling effect’ of equality laws on Christians.
Dr Philip Giddings, chair of the Church’s Mission and Public Affairs Council, warned that employers do not always respect the rights of Christian employees.
He said: “In several encounters with Government ministers, notably on the Big Society, we have stressed the need to address the chill factor which leads employers and others to assume that the law is more restrictive than it is.
“We have had a sympathetic hearing and look forward to practical responses.
“The law does not prevent Christians from expressing their views at work.
“The law, rightly, expects everyone, including those of no faith, to act with due respect for other people’s rights and duties in the field of religion or belief.
“However some employers have interpreted the law in ways which seem to assume that reasonable and respectful expressions of faith are, almost by definition, offensive. This is a cause of great concern.”
Last month Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said that the attempt to impose an equality “template” on religious organisations is eroding religious liberty.
Lord Sacks said he shared with Roman Catholic and Church of England leaders a “real concern that the attempt to impose the current prevailing template of equality and anti-discrimination on religious organisations is an erosion of religious liberty”.
The Chief Rabbi went on to raise concerns that the UK was “beginning to move back” to the time of the Mayflower when many left to “find religious liberty elsewhere”.