From the UK’s Daily Telegraph:
Trevor Phillips warned that “an old time religion incompatible with modern society” is driving the revival in the Anglican and Catholic Churches and clashing with mainstream views, especially on homosexuality.
He accused Christians, particularly evangelicals, of being more militant than Muslims in complaining about discrimination, arguing that many of the claims are motivated by a desire for greater political influence.
However the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission expressed concern that people of faith are “under siege” from atheists whom he accused of attempting to “drive religion underground”.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph ahead of a landmark report on religious discrimination in Britain, he said the Commission wants to protect Christians and Muslims from discrimination, admitting his body had not been seen to stand up for the people discriminated against because of their faith in the past.
While the equalities boss promised to fight for the rights of Christians, he expressed concern that many cases were driven by fundamentalist Christians who are holding increasing sway over the mainstream churches because of the influence of African and Caribbean immigrants with “intolerant” views.
In contrast, Muslims are less vociferous because they are trying to integrate into British “liberal democracy”, he said.
“I think there’s an awful lot of noise about the Church being persecuted but there is a more real issue that the conventional churches face that the people who are really driving their revival and success believe in an old time religion which in my view is incompatible with a modern, multi-ethnic, multicultural society,” Phillips said.
“Muslim communities in this country are doing their damnedest to try to come to terms with their neighbours to try to integrate and they’re doing their best to try to develop an idea of Islam that is compatible with living in a modern liberal democracy.
“The most likely victim of actual religious discrimination in British society is a Muslim but the person who is most likely to feel slighted because of their religion is an evangelical Christian.”
Senior clergy, including Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, have attacked equality laws for eroding Christianity and stifling free speech, but Phillips said many of the legal cases brought by Christians on issues surrounding homosexuality were motivated by an attempt to gain political influence.
“I think for a lot of Christian activists, they want to have a fight and they choose sexual orientation as the ground to fight it on,” he said.
“I think the whole argument isn’t about the rights of Christians. It’s about politics. It’s about a group of people who really want to have weight and influence.”
He added: “There are a lot of Christian activist voices who appear bent on stressing the kind of persecution that I don’t think really exists in this country.”
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