Britain’s Christian heritage is under stealthy attack: "This debate is about the relentless assault, mostly by stealth, on this nation’s much-loved Christian heritage and traditions. It is about how anti-Christian sentiment is increasing, not decreasing; why many Christians feel they are not getting a fair hearing when it comes to Christianity in the public square; and what many people of all faiths and no faith see as the increasing marginalisation of Britain’s Christian history, heritage and traditions through the actions of Whitehall Departments, Government agencies, local authorities, the charity commissioners, or other sectors of society. I will also comment on the creative industries and some sections of the media."
Christianity is alive in today’s Britain: "Britain’s Christian traditions are both rich and deep, and are enjoyed today by people from all faiths and none. Furthermore, this Christian tradition has held Britain’s communities together for many hundreds of years and through the very many challenges of British history. The most recent English church census reveals that at least 3.2 million people still attend church every Sunday. The Christian Church is not dead: it is very much alive. Perhaps that is an important oversight that some have mistakenly made."
But in the public square…
Less celebration of Christmas: "A recent survey in The Sunday Telegraph revealed that fewer and fewer schools are staging traditional Christmas nativity plays, supposedly through fear of offending people of other faiths and those with no faith. But what about the offence to Christians?… Other examples include some charity organisations banning Christmas messages or nativity scenes from their shop windows and displays; some—not all—Government Departments banning the word “Christmas” from all official celebrations; and the Home Office spending tens of thousands of pounds a year on celebrating Muslim and Hindu festivals, but very little on celebrating Christmas."
Discrimination against Christian groups in access to services and grants: "It is also wrong when Christianophobia occurs on university campuses, when Christian groups try to access local government grants and funding or seek to rent public buildings, and in decisions relating to adoption and fostering services. Local, regional or national fundholders and decision makers who are Christianophobic need to stop breaking the spirit of anti-discrimination laws and look beyond Christian labels to see the wider benefits that hundreds of faith groups bring to local communities up and down the nation."
Christianity doesn’t need special rights – just equal rights: "I have a question for the Minister: would our nation be safer, happier, wealthier and more at peace with itself if our Christian traditions and heritage were recognised and celebrated in a more even-handed way, rather than marginalised and scorned? As I said at the outset, this debate is not about “doing God.” Politicians, especially one as flawed as I am, need to tread carefully in this area. This debate is not about asking for special rights for the Christian tradition, but for equal rights. I hope the Government will today send out a clear and unequivocal message from Parliament to Departments, agencies, local authorities, and institutions that the Government condemn all religious intolerance, including rising Christianophobia."
"That Christianity has a pre-eminent position in British life in comparison to other religions is not wrong. It is not a case of equality. Of course, the practice of all religions should be free, fair and equal, but that Christianity is pre-eminent is not through any attack on equality; it is an acknowledgment of its role in creating the tolerant, free and democratic society that we all enjoy. If we lose that, will it damage the Church and affect the faith of millions in Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour? No, it will not. The nation, however, would lose far more in terms of what the Christian faith can contribute to the life of the nation, to its civic society, its voluntary groups, or anything else. The Church does not need contemporary Britain, but does contemporary Britain need the Church? You bet it does."