A campaign launched today which says Christians have been barred from involvement in public life and are discriminated against in the UK has been heavily criticised by humanists and Christians as misleading and having no evidence to support them. The British Humanist Association (BHA), the European Humanist Federation (EHF), and Christian think tank Ekklesia, have refuted claims of the ‘Not Ashamed’ campaign, which has been organised by the socially conservative group ‘Christian Concern’ (formerly Christian Concern For Our Nation) and is supported by Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and by Bishop Michael Nazir Ali.
Andrew Copson, BHA Chief Executive said, ‘The increasingly desperate attempts to work up a victim narrative of “Christianophobia” by these activists have no basis in reality. The assumption behind it is that there is a groundswell of discrimination and persecution of Christians in Britain, but this assumption is false. Time and again the various claims of discrimination against Christians that have been tested in the courts have been assessed by impartial judges and found baseless. The narrative calls for increased religious liberty, but the demands would actually limit religious and other freedom for most people, through permitting wide discrimination by Christians against others.
‘Discrimination against non-Christians is in fact far more widespread than discrimination against Christians, and Christianity is still overly privileged in the UK. In almost one third of our state schools, preference is given to Christian parents in admissions over non-Christians, and to Christian staff over non-Christian staff. ‘
‘It is more than slightly ludicrous to suggest otherwise.’
The BHA also questioned the campaign’s focus on restoring respect for Britain’s Christian heritage or roots.
Mr Copson continued, ‘It is chauvinist and historically illiterate to ignore the vast pre-Christian and non-Christian contributions to the development of our culture, our common values and our positive social norms. Many British people today are the non-Christian children of non-Christian parents and non-Christian grandparents, with no connection to Christianity or in many cases, to any religion. There is no way that they should be excluded from British culture because of that fact.’
The European Humanist Federation (EHF) accused the campaign of trivialising the concept of persecution.
EHF President David Pollock said, ‘We are lucky in Britain to have freedom of conscience, thought and belief. In many other places across the world, Christians, Muslims, humanists and human beings of many different religious and non-religious beliefs are really persecuted, losing their lives for their convictions. Campaigns like the one that is launching today trivialises their suffering.’
Christian think tank Ekklesia said that there is ‘no evidence’ to back up the ‘Not Ashamed’ campaign.
Ekklesia Co-Director Jonathan Batley commented, ‘Christians should not be ashamed of our faith but nor should they be afraid to listen to others and learn from them. What they should be ashamed of however, is the reputation that they are developing for exaggeration, misleading people and discriminating against others.
‘Since 2005, when we first predicted the growth in claims of ‘persecution’, we have been closely examining individual cases and what lies behind them. We have found no evidence to back up the claim of the ‘Not Ashamed’ campaign that Christians as a group are being systematically marginalised in Britain. We have found consistent evidence however of Christians misleading people and exaggerating what is really going on, as well as treating other Christians, those of other faith and those of no faith in discriminatory ways.’
For further comment or information, contact Andrew Copson on 07534 248596.
The ‘Not Ashamed’ campaign launches at midday on Wednesday 1st December.
The British Humanist Association is the national charity representing and supporting the interests of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.