THE BLOG

No Wonder Christians Feel Discriminated Against in British Society, a Disturbing Trend is now Emerging

11/10/2011 22:43 | Updated 10 December 2011

Last month a Christian owner of a Café where bible verses were being displayed on television screens was told (quite incorrectly) by police that he was breaking the law.

The fact that British police would consider the displaying of Christian scripture an illegal offence is a concerning indication of the mentality that British society has come to adopt towards all things Christian.

For anyone who follows the British media's reporting of American politics, the continuous attempt to run down certain American politicians on account of their faith rather than engaging with their politics has now become a rather boring familiarity.

Bush and Palin are crazed evangelical fundamentalists we are forever being told, oh yawn, is this kind of cheap and lazy defamation really what we have to make do with for journalism?

Yet what is far more concerning is what is happening to Christians here in our own country. It is only when one steps back and takes an overview of the litany of cases where Christians have been discriminated against for their religious convictions, that it is possible to appreciate what resembles a sustained assault against the Christian communities in Britain.

Whether it is the case of the nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient, the van driver who faced disciplinary action if he refused to remove a palm cross from his dashboard, the couple who were prohibited from fostering because of their Christian beliefs or the supply teacher who was dismissed when she mentioned praying for a child's family. The list goes on and on.

Then there are the truly bizarre cases of town councils choosing not to put up their annual display of Christmas decorations or the BBC dropping the use of the terms BC and AD because of their Christian connotations.

It is as if there is a systematic effort to extrapolate British society from its Christian heritage and the values that have for centuries served as a basis for British culture and identity. Those who have been responsible for these moves have often advocated for them on the grounds of creating a more secular and therefore a supposedly more inclusive and pluralistic society for everyone.

Yet it is hard to escape the fact that it has often been the very same people who have promoted secular values when it has come to driving out Christian aspects of public life, who have simultaneously lent their support for the establishment of a parallel religious legal system in the form of Sharia law courts.

Indeed there seems to be a curious disparity here.

How is it that the media has often lambasted Christian individuals who have found themselves dismissed from work or even in court on account of their views on sexuality and yet concurrent to this we hear so relatively little about those hard-line Islamic preachers who have openly preached hate over issues of gender and homosexuality, issues that the liberal press claims to champion.

At our universities these speakers are often provided with an open platform on the grounds of free speech and freedom of religious expression. Those were the kind of arguments that many in the British media were at pains to stress when discussing the ground zero mosque in Manhattan. And while our media obsessed over supporting the building of one mosque in America, it all but ignored the burning down of countless churches elsewhere in the world, not to mention the massacring of Coptic Christians in their Churches in Egypt or the murder of Iraqi Christians in their places of worship there.

Yet this is symptomatic of a growing double standard. We all remember the crowds who turned out for the protest at the Pope rally last year but where were the demonstrations against the then Mayor Ken Livingstone sponsoring the visit to London by the extremist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi?

The reality now seems to be that in Britain, Christians are treated by entirely different standards to that thought appropriate for other religious groups. It is as if Christians and their faith have become fair game. But it should not be left to Christians to campaign on this issue alone.

As much as I am not a Christian, it still seems clear that all of us who value the rights and freedoms afforded by a liberal democracy should ensure that there is fair treatment for Christians in Britain.

More than that, we as a society need to recognise that Christianity has played a major and for the most part extremely positive role, in forming our nation's history and national identity.

Those who cannot bring themselves to understand this will naturally also prove unable to appreciate what it means to actually be British and our society will continue to suffer from the chronic loss of values and any sense of purpose that currently seems to be at the heart of so many of the social challenges that we now face.