The results of the largest ever consultation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have revealed widespread discrimination against Christians.
Of the nearly 2,500 responses, Christians comprised by far the highest number (1,030), followed by atheists at just 188.
The results have prompted calls for the law to provide greater protection for those with religious beliefs.
Breach equality laws
Christians of varying denominations responded, and reported being mocked for their beliefs at work, being passed over for promotion and feeling under pressure to keep their faith quiet at work.
Other responses included parents saying their children are ridiculed for their faith at school, and business owners feeling “in turmoil” about behaving in ways that might breach equality laws.
Around half of those surveyed thought better legislation is needed to provide adequate protection for those with religious beliefs.
This view is shared by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which passed a resolution in January calling for reasonable accommodation of religious belief and practices.
The Christian Institute said the EHRC must now take note of the problems highlighted in the survey, and warned about their negative track record concerning Christians.
Spokesman Simon Calvert said: “Clearly many Christians up and down the country are being marginalised in the workplace because of their faith. Equality legislation is often part of the problem rather than the solution.
“The EHRC should not fall into the trap of seeing secularism as neutral, and using equality law to enforce it.
“Secularist campaigners have certainly tried to use equality legislation to impose secularism on everybody.
“The humanists and atheists who told the EHRC they felt “excluded” in workplaces where prayer meetings were allowed illustrates their intolerance of religious expression.
“The EHRC has a track record of vigorously pursuing cases against Christians, such as B&B owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull, whose case was taken all the way to the Supreme Court.
“They need to heed the call of respondents to this survey, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and recognise the need for a change in the law to better accommodate those with religious belief.”
In 2011, the EHRC issued an apology after warning that children could be “infected” by the moral views of Christian foster parents who oppose homosexual behaviour.
The remark was published in legal paperwork prepared by Karon Monaghan QC for a court case involving a Christian couple struggling to be approved as foster parents.
The last Census revealed that fewer than 30,000 people describe themselves as atheist and only 77 called themselves secularists.
Even adding in all humanists, free thinkers, rationalists and realists gives a total of just 45,361.