Christians have had enough of being treated as second class citizens, a Conservative MP has warned during a Parliamentary debate.
The stark warning from Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe, is likely to be welcomed by many Christians who feel that their faith is often marginalised in the public sphere.
During a debate on the Academies Bill Tom Blenkinsop, a Labour MP, argued against the Bill, implying that it would allow “fundamentalist Christian groups” to exert an unwelcome influence over schools.
Mr Blenkinsop said: “I am particularly concerned about the Bill’s implications for the further growth of faith schools – in the context of the recent history of academies, this really means fundamentalist Christian groups – and their ability to deploy significant funds to endow academies.”
But Steve Baker, a member of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, was quick to criticise Mr Blenkinsop’s attitude towards Christians, saying: “Speaking as a committed Christian, I am most surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman talking in these terms about minorities.
“If Conservative members spoke in these terms about different minorities, I am sure he would be quick to condemn us.”
He added: “I ask the hon. Gentleman to use more moderate language in his description of Christians.
“I think Christians in this country have had enough; they deserve to be treated with the same sort of respect that the hon. Gentleman would expect for any minority.”
Mr Baker, who also supports a reduction in the abortion time limit, is the latest in a series of politicians to criticise the way in which Christians have been treated.
Earlier this month the Communities Secretary said that the Government would no longer marginalise Christians.
Eric Pickles, speaking at a meeting of faith leaders, declared: “The days of the state trying to suppress Christianity and other faiths are over.”
Mr Pickles, who is MP for Brentwood and Ongar in Essex, also commented that the new Government values “the role of religion and faith in public life”.
He praised “faith communities” for making a difference to “every single neighbourhood in the country”.
And Andy Burnham MP, a candidate for the Labour Party leadership, said at a hustings that the party looked “ridiculous” for creating a culture which marginalised Christians.
Mr Burnham also said that his party needed to apologise for the culture that saw nurses being disciplined for wearing a cross.