‘Workplace religious discrimination must no longer be overlooked’

The Christian Institute has joined with the Evangelical Alliance and the Catholic Union to urge Parliament to uphold freedom of religion at work.

In a letter to the Chair of Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, the groups called for religious freedom to be made “a key part” of its current inquiry into human rights at work.

They stated: “Sadly, we know that too many Christians are unable to bring their whole selves to work, and in some cases face disadvantage or discrimination because of their faith, despite laws that should prevent this from happening. This is something experienced by people of other faiths as well.”


Although the Committee has pledged to address “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” in its inquiry, the groups asked for a separate evidence session where the Committee can “shine a light on these concerns and put forward recommendations for improvement”.

The Christian Institute’s Simon Calvert explained: “Religion has long been the Cinderella strand of discrimination law. Christians who take their faith seriously can feel overlooked, or even marginalised, by the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion industry.

“Many employers show little interest in seeking to understand the challenges faced in the workplace by devoutly Catholic or evangelical staff. I hope the Joint Committee on Human Rights will give a voice to these people.”

The Committee, which is currently hearing evidence on the issue, is due to report later this year.

‘Blind spot’

Earlier this year, a prominent Roman Catholic Peer warned that the erosion of religious freedom in the workplace will leave everyone worse off.

Lord Alton of Liverpool believes progress has been made in tackling other forms of discrimination at work, but said “there is still a blind spot when it comes to religion”.

His comments followed a survey on people’s experiences and attitudes towards faith in the workplace by the Catholic Union, of which the Peer is a former vice-president.

Almost a third of Catholic Union members and supporters who participated in the survey said they felt disadvantaged at work because of their faith, while nearly half of respondents felt unable to speak openly about their faith with colleagues.

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