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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007, 10:03 GMT
UK Christians 'suffer for faith'
Candles
Christians increasingly feel discriminated against in their faith
More than one in five Christians in the UK faces discrimination in their local communities because of their faith, a survey for a BBC programme suggests.

The poll of 604 people describing themselves as Christian, for the Heaven and Earth show, also found 25% felt discriminated against at work.

One in three said the media portrayal of their religion was discriminatory.

The findings come as churches complain the Christian values which underpin law-making in Britain are being eroded.

Church leaders say this process of aggressive secularisation is to the detriment of family life.

'Fight back'

Rev Malcolm Duncan, of campaign group Faithworks, said: "The Christian church is suffering more than all other faiths in the UK.

It's a case of those issues getting more attention, rather than there being more discrimination
David Gillett
Bishop of Bolton

"There is an aggressive secularist agenda that says it's OK to support any group ending in 'ism', but it's not OK to support anything connected to Christianity."

Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, who is a Catholic, said Christians must decide whether to "fight back or take it".

"My own belief is that we should stand together and fight this discrimination."

Perceived grievances

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Piggott said the level of dissatisfaction among Christians about the way their faith is regarded would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.

But some senior religious figures said they felt the case was being overstated.

Bishop of Bolton David Gillett said religious issues were attracting more attention, leading to a greater perception of discrimination.

"Christians are now finding decisions going against them in a more high-profile way.

"But it's a case of those issues getting more attention, rather than there being more discrimination."

Heaven and Earth was broadcast at 1000 GMT on BBC One.


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