Most Britons think Christians shouldn’t be penalised for following conscience at work

A new poll has found that most Britons think Christians should be able to follow their conscience in the workplace without facing disciplinary action from their employers.

Out of more than 1,000 adults polled by ComRes, 72% said Christians should be able to refuse to act against their conscience without being penalised by their employer.

Seventy-three per cent agreed that the right to wear Christian symbols such as a cross in their workplace should be protected by law.

Eighty-seven per cent felt it was wrong for healthcare workers to be threatened with the sack for offering to pray with patients.

The poll’s findings are an indication that the attitudes of some politicians and employers are out of step with the feelings of the majority of the population when it comes to public expressions of faith.

Christian Concern commissioned the poll to coincide with the launch of its Not Ashamed campaign. The organisation and its sister group, the Christian Legal Centre, have been involved in the legal defence of numerous Christians who penalised by their employers.

They include the high profile cases of homeless adviser Duke Amachree who was sacked by Wandsworth Council in London for suggesting to a terminally ill client that she “put her faith in God”, and Olive Jones, a 54-year-old supply teacher who was dismissed after offering to pray for a sick pupil. Mrs Jones was eventually offered her job back but Mr Amachree lost his legal challenge.

The last few years have also seen the closure of Roman Catholic adoption agencies because of their refusal to place children in same-sex families and the dismissal of Christians who that their biblical views on sexuality be accommodated.

Christian Concern said the cases were the result of “misapplied political correctness”.

It believes the findings of the poll are meaningful at a time when the Coalition Government is relying on churches and Christian organisations to get their Big Society initiative off the ground.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, Director of the Christian Concern, called upon senior politicians and judges to take note of the findings and make moves to change the law so that more Christians are not dismissed for their beliefs in the future.

She said: “This survey indicates that recent legislation and the way in which it has been interpreted in the courts is seriously out of line with public opinion.

“The vast majority of British adults support the general principle that Christians should be free to manifest their faith and exercise their conscience in the workplace without fear of punishment.

“Very often in the national debate we hear a lot from a small minority, with extreme views, that would like to see the Christian fabric of our nation destroyed. This poll suggests that their voice is not representative of the vast majority of the British public.

“I think that that is why the message of the Not Ashamed campaign resonates so strongly with so many – and not only Christians. People are looking for an opportunity to stand up and speak up for the Christian values that have helped make Britain great – and we need to do so if there is not to be further erosion.”

The Not Ashamed campaign has received the backing of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, who said that Christianity in Britain was “under attack”.