He said, “I think it is impossible (for Christians to be expected to detach themselves from their faith as they work), because when we talk about faith we are talking about what people believe in. We are talking about the values that underpin what they do. We are talking about the convictions that they have about how you can make for a better society.”
The Prime Minister’s comments come amid anxiety among some Christians who believe recent laws have made it more difficult for Christians to practise their faith openly.
Over the past decade an escalating number of cases have emerged in which medical professionals and teachers are among the Christians to have faced the apparent suppression of their beliefs in the workplace.
Mr Brown also added to the debate following the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu’s endorsement of a report claiming that the British Government’s support towards religious groups was overly favouring Muslims.
The Prime Minister attempted to assuage fears among Christians that they are being sidelined in society, saying that the increasingly multi-cultural nature of British society meant that for the sake of social cohesion the Government needed to give emphasis to particular minority groups to ensure they did not feel discriminated against.
Mr Brown added: “I think it was true that a lot of laws and allocations of finance were criticised five, 10 years ago. I think the issue now is that people want us to be more cohesive as a society and I think that means that the emphasis is more on integration.”
The Prime Minister’s comments did not directly tackle the issue of the new Equality Bill, which many Christians fear will further erode religious freedoms if passed.
In the interview the Prime Minister also confirmed that the Government would still prioritise foreign aid for those in poverty despite the current worldwide recession. Mr Brown said, “We have responsibilities to those in need and in difficulty and we cannot walk by on the other side.”
He added, “Our responsibilities to the poor are even more acute and obvious at a time when people are facing difficulty.”