In submission to European court of human rights, Lord Carey claims Christians are vilified by state bodies
Christians are being "persecuted" and "driven underground" while the courts fail to protect their religious values, a former archbishop of Canterbury has claimed.
Lord Carey said Christians were excluded from many sectors of employment because of their beliefs, "vilified by state bodies" and left in fear of arrest for expressing their views.
The former archbishop's claims are part of a written submission to the European court of human rights, seen by the Daily Telegraph, before a landmark case on religious freedom.
The hearing will deal with the cases of two workers forced out of their jobs after wearing visible crosses, a Relate therapist sacked for saying he was not comfortable giving sex counselling to gay couples, and a Christian registrar who refused to conduct civil partnership ceremonies.
The British Airways worker Nadia Eweida, a Pentecostal Christian, received widespread publicity when she was sent home in 2006 after refusing to remove a necklace with a cross or hide it from sight.
An employment tribunal ruled Eweida had not suffered religious discrimination, but the airline changed its uniform policy after the case to allow all religious symbols, including crosses.
Shirley Chaplin, a nurse, was moved to a paperwork role by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust hospital after refusing to remove a necklace bearing a crucifix.
Gary McFarlane, a Bristol marriage counsellor, was sacked for refusing to give sex therapy to gay people, and the registrar Lilian Ladele was disciplined after she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies in north London.
In the submission, Carey said the outward expression of traditional conservative Christian values had in effect been banned under a new "secular conformity of belief and conduct".
The former archbishop argued that in "case after case" British courts had failed to protect Christian values, and urged European judges to correct the balance.
He said there was a "drive to remove Judeo-Christian values from the public square" and argued that UK courts had "consistently applied equality law to discriminate against Christians" as they showed a "crude" misunderstanding of the faith by treating some worshippers as "bigots".
In his submission, Carey, who was archbishop from 1991 to 2002, wrote: "In a country where Christians can be sacked for manifesting their faith, are vilified by state bodies, are in fear of reprisal or even arrest for expressing their views on sexual ethics, something is very wrong.
"It affects the moral and ethical compass of the United Kingdom. Christians are excluded from many sectors of employment simply because of their beliefs; beliefs which are not contrary to the public good."
He added: "It is now Christians who are persecuted; often sought out and framed by homosexual activists.
"Christians are driven underground. There appears to be a clear animus to the Christian faith and to Judeo-Christian values. Clearly the courts of the United Kingdom need guidance."
He argued that British judges had used a strict reading of the equality law to strip the legal right to freedom of religion of "any substantive effect".
Keith Porteous-Wood, the executive director of the National Secular Society, told the Telegraph: "The idea that there is any kind of suppression of religion in Britain is ridiculous.
"Even in the European court of human rights, the right to religious freedom is not absolute – it is not a licence to trample on the rights of others. That seems to be what Lord Carey wants to do."
Source at the Guardian