Harman snubs ‘prejudice against Christians’ plea

The Minister for Equality, Harriet Harman, has ignored an MP’s call for a House of Commons debate on prejudice against Christians in the public sector.

The appeal came from Conservative MP Julian Brazier during House of Commons Business Questions on Thursday.

Miss Harman played down his concerns and ignored the call for a debate. She said she would refer his point to the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Addressing Miss Harman in her capacity as Leader of the House of Commons, Mr Brazier asked: “May I appeal for a debate during the forthcoming term on prejudice against Christians in a growing proportion of the public services?”

He cited “a string of incidents involving health service and local authority workers being penalised for offering to pray for people, for saying “God bless” to them and so on”.

He added that “the worst case of all” is that of the experienced Christian foster mother who was caring for a sixteen-year-old girl from a Muslim background.

When the girl chose to convert to Christianity, the local authority banned the mother from fostering and took the girl back into care. The loss of income has since caused the foster carer to lose her home.

Mr Brazier completed his remarks by urging the Leader of the House, Miss Harman, “to consider this a worthy subject for a debate in the House”.

Miss Harman, who is also Minister for Women and Equality, said: “I shall refer the honourable Gentleman’s point to the relevant Minister in the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

“This is really just a matter of basic good practice and common sense. There is nothing in any law or guidance that requires people to act daft.”

Mr Brazier has previously raised similar concerns in his blog for the Conservative Cornerstone Group.

In February he wrote: “In our bid to prove a religiously tolerant country I believe we are going too far the other way.

“Recently we have seen a succession of pernicious attacks on Christianity by aggressive secularism.”

He mentioned Caroline Petrie, the nurse suspended for offering to pray for a patient, pointing out that “The fact that Mrs. Petrie showed obvious compassion for her patient’s wellbeing seems to have been irrelevant to this health trust”.

He also referred to the foster carer, and to Jennie Cain, the school receptionist whose five-year-old daughter was scolded by a teacher for talking to a classmate about Christianity.

“Are we really saying that as a society we no longer have a place for compassionate Christians who serve the public good?” he asked.

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