Sidelined Christians feel the squeeze, poll shows

Thousands of Christians are losing out on promotions and being hassled at work because of their beliefs, according to a new poll.

More than half of the Christians surveyed on behalf of The Sunday Telegraph said they had suffered some form of persecution for being a Christian.

And five per cent said they had been reprimanded or cautioned for sharing their faith at work.

The poll follows successive cases in recent months where Christians have faced problems at work because of their beliefs.

  • Know your rights: Religious liberty in the workplace
  • Earlier this year a Christian nurse, Caroline Petrie, was suspended after offering to pray for a patient. She has now been reinstated.

    Last month it emerged that another nurse had been sacked for suggesting during a training course that going to church could help a patient suffering with stress.

    A Christian foster carer was struck off because she allowed a Muslim child in her care to convert to Christianity.

    A teacher, Kwabena Peat, was suspended after he complained that a staff training day was used to marginalise those who disagreed with homosexual practice.

    David Booker, a charity worker in Southampton, was suspended under ‘diversity’ rules after answering a colleague’s questions about his Christian beliefs on sexual ethics.

    Duke Amachree, a council worker, was also suspended from his job for encouraging a terminally ill woman to turn to God. Bosses told him that even saying “God bless” was unacceptable.

    Jennie Cain, a school receptionist, faced the sack after her daughter was scolded for telling another child about her Christian faith and a private email from Mrs Cain asking church friends to pray about the situation fell into the hands of the headteacher.

    Lillian Ladele, a London registrar, was bullied and faced the sack after asking to be exempted from registering same-sex partnerships.

    Despite evidence that Christians are being increasingly sidelined in the public sphere, Equalities Minister Harriet Harman last week dismissed calls for a Parliamentary debate on the issue.

    Miss Harman said: “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.”

    An atheist group recently produced guidance for employers, using funding from the Government’s equality watchdog, in which it claimed that Christians who evangelise at work could be breaking the law.

    The guidance, from the British Humanist Association (BHA), says: “In some religions it is considered acceptable for believers to evangelise or ‘spread the word’.”

    It claims that attempts by religious believers to proselytise “are highly likely to amount to harassment of their colleagues”.

    The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) gave the BHA £35,000 to pay for the project which gave rise to the guidance.

    Legal experts have condemned the BHA’s claims as “nonsense”, and Christian groups have dubbed them “propaganda”.

    This week’s ComRes poll found that three quarters of Christians believe there is less religious freedom in the UK now than 20 years ago.

    Five per cent said their beliefs had got in the way of a promotion, and ten per cent said family members had rejected them because of their faith.

    ComRes surveyed 512 Christians at the end of April, selected through both liberal and evangelical media.

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