A veteran Labour Peer has said he is “ashamed” of the “intolerant bigotry” towards Christians that exists in his own party and others.
Labour’s “disgraceful” law forcing religious adoption agencies to consider same-sex couples as parents was an example of its hostility to traditional beliefs, said Lord Donoughue, who served as a policy adviser to two Prime Ministers in the 1970s.
Observers say this is an embarrassing blow to Gordon Brown, who just last week called churchgoers “the conscience of our country” in his Easter message.
In a letter to The Tablet, a weekly Roman Catholic magazine, Lord Donoughue states that he has little to add to earlier condemnation of “the Labour Government’s disgraceful attack on Catholic adoption societies”.
But he goes on: “The present situation sadly reflects the extent to which many among the politically correct zealots in all parties now display the same kind of intolerant bigotry towards Christian faith which once was regrettably shown towards the homosexual minority.
“Like Shirley Williams, in the 1960s I strongly supported Harold Wilson’s Government in reforming the barbaric laws then prevailing against homosexuals. It is sad to see so many of their supporters now operating with similar intolerance.
“As a life-long member of the Labour party, I am ashamed of its present actions.”
The Labour Peer also attacked the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats for lacking courage and sympathy on the issue of Roman Catholic adoption agencies.
He added: “I trust that during the election campaign and with the new government, all the Christian Churches will unite to campaign more actively hitherto to defend the Christian faith from the attacks of the politically correct and the intolerant.”
In October the Government’s Minister for Communities denied Christians are being marginalised in Labour’s Britain.
John Denham, who describes himself as a “secular humanist”, told a group of church leaders that neither faith nor believers were being sidelined by the Government.
He said that unlike his predecessors in the role of Communities Secretary, he was not a “practising member” of faith.
He said: “I, on the other hand, would see myself as a secular humanist.
“Coming into this job, I thought it would be of interest to me certainly and, I hope, to you to explore the relationship between faith and Government from that perspective.”
Mr Denham added: “It would be wrong to suggest that faith organisations alone are responsible for defining, shaping and transmitting values. It is not necessary to have faith to be deeply, morally and profoundly altruistic.”
Earlier in the same month Baroness Warsi, the shadow minister for community cohesion, accused the Government of allowing intolerance against Christians to grow.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, she said: “Under Labour, the state has become increasingly sceptical of an individual’s religious belief.”
She pointed to cases of Christians being sidelined because of their faith.
“We’ve all seen the stories,” she said, “how appalling that today in Labour’s Britain a community nurse can be suspended for offering to pray for a patient’s good health.
“How awful that a school receptionist could face disciplinary action for sending an email to her friends simply asking them to pray for her daughter.”
She was referring to the cases of nurse, Caroline Petrie, and school receptionist, Jennie Cain.
Baroness Warsi added: “At the heart of these cases lies a growing intolerance and illiberal attitude towards those who believe in God.”
The former Prime Minister Tony Blair warned UK Christians in March last year that they now live in an age of “aggressive secularism” and criticised recent “ludicrous decisions” which saw them punished for expressing their beliefs.
In the same month, his wife, Cherie Blair, said: “Christians are often being marginalised and faith is something few people like to discuss openly”.