At least 64% of Christians in the UK say they have been victims of religious discrimination, a new survey has revealed.
Recently the court of European Human Rights ruled that Christian air stewardess Nadia Eweida suffered discrimination from her employer when she was told to remove her necklace featuring a cross.
In a survey by dating website Adults.co.uk, which has some 400,000 Christian profiles, 64% of Christians quizzed had similar tales to tell about professional or social discrimination based on their faith.
Of those, 40% confessed that they’d experienced prejudiced treatment in the workplace and 35% had experienced it in social situations, meaning 9% had experienced both types.
One quarter said they experienced religious discrimination in the last 12 months, just more than half said it was in the last 2-10 years and just under a quarter said their unpleasant experiences happened ten years ago or more.
Members were also asked open-ended questions to elaborate on their negative experiences. Andreas, 38, a lawyer from London complained that he too felt his employer was unsympathetic to his religious beliefs. He wrote: “During a big project last year we had to work seven days a week. I requested time off to go to church, just for one Sunday but my boss refused. Yet when someone asked for a dispensation to go to a friend’s wedding, they were allowed!”
Emma, 26, from East Anglia revealed how her faith has caused her to be treated differently in social settings: “I’ve had people at parties go around pouring drinks and then when they come to me they say, ‘oh no you won’t want any, you’re a good girl.’ It’s very insulting that people make such sweeping judgements about our lifestyle just because of our personal beliefs.”
The European Convention on Human Rights prohibits religious discrimination. Its clauses are designed to protect “freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. Yet cases of religious discrimination are not rare. Three other Christians were also awaiting the results of discrimination cases against their employers on the same day but lost their appeals.
The Adults.co.uk survey revealed that more than half (53%) have at some point avoided disclosing that they go to church. Like the case of Nadia Eweida, a further 40% said they had at some point felt that they should either hide or remove their religious cross.
David Fieldsend from the Christian charity CARE said: ‘It is concerning that Christians feel they cannot express their religion freely. There seems to be a truncated understanding of what religious liberty means. The argument that a Christian employee could not wear her cross dovetails with what secularists believe religious liberty should be – private liberty in our heads but has no effect on how we live, work or go about our lives. This is anathema to Christianity, which teaches that our faith should affect each and every part of our lives 24/7.”
The website Adults.co.uk which conducted the survey offers a secure and sensitive service for UK Christians looking for love. Founder Paul King said: “We recognise that it is difficult for Christians to pursue a relationship with a non-believer. Christians try to keep God as the main priority even when there is another person in their life that he loves. That’s why we have created a dating platform where both partners are likely to have similar moral standards and beliefs.”