Christians are increasingly fearful to speak out about their faith in public due to the rise of an “intolerant liberalism” in the UK, a bishop has said.
Nick Baines, the Anglican Bishop of Leeds, said Christians feel “picked on” by some secularists who have a problem with religion being discussed outside of church.
“Clearly there are some Christians who are concerned about whether they are free to talk about their faith in a respectful and appropriate way in the workplace,” the bishop told the Press Association.
“Equally, there are plenty of people who are not Christians who think that Christians shouldn’t, or think there is an issue around it. I call it religious illiteracy.”
He added that people have been disciplined or threatened with discipline for talking about their faith in the workplace, even if they have been asked about it by colleague.
“Someone makes a complaint and says they have been inappropriate. This is absurd,” he said.
His words come just a day after Prime Minister Theresa May defending the rights of Christians to express their faith in public.
Speaking at Prime Ministers Questions, Mrs May said: “We’re now into Advent, and we have a very strong tradition in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech,” adding: “Our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of.”
“We all want to ensure that people at work do feel able to speak about their faith and also feel able to speak quite freely about Christmas.”
Last weekend, a report said that Christians should have their rights protected in any new “Bill of Rights” brought forward by the government.
“Evidence demonstrates that societies that vigorously protect religious freedom enjoy a wide range of other fundamental rights as well, in particular freedom of speech and freedom of association,” a spokesman for the ResPublica think tank said.
“Religious freedom remains one of the most effective limits on the intrusion by the state on individual and communal life.”