This was the question that I was asked to answer on The Heaven and Earth Show on BBC1 last Sunday, 18th March. It is my view that discrimination against faith groups does exist in the UK, and so consequently, Christians are sometimes the victims of discrimination.
However, there can be a number of reasons for this. Sometimes, it may be that the services that we are offering are not of a high enough standard, particularly when it comes to issues around funding. Or, it might be that we are perceived to be a soft target because Christianity is understood to be the majority religion in the UK. It could also be that people misunderstand what being a Christian really means – they think that all we are interested in is converting people, and do not understand that we care about serving people holistically because it is the right thing to do. It has to be said, regretfully, that the Church has not always helped itself at changing this misunderstanding.
Discrimination always springs from prejudice, and prejudice always springs from ignorance. A lot of wider British society is ignorant about what it actually means to have a Christian faith, which often leads to them caricaturing us.
So how do we solve this problem? I think that we need to address the issue of faith as a motivation for what we do. This means that government needs to understand what it really means to be a "Christian" project – that we can and do deliver services without trying to force everyone to become Christians. But it also means that we must live this out, and be non-prejudicial and non-discriminatory in the way that we ourselves work.
The world around us is shifting, and we are moving from a place of privilege to the margins of society, which I believe is a more authentic, although more difficult, place of spirituality and service. The issues at stake are our understanding of Christian identity, equality, influence, conscience and diversity. If you would like to read my thoughts on this in detail, please click here.
I would love to hear your views on this – please let me know what you think.