Page last updated at 03:40 GMT, Sunday, 28 March 2010 04:40 UK

Christians discriminated against, bishops warn

Lord Carey
Lord Carey called on the government to end its "discrimination"

A group of Church of England Bishops have accused the government of discriminating against Christians while treating other faiths more leniently.

In a letter to the Sunday Telegraph, they claim traditional Christian beliefs are being sidelined.

They highlight the case of an NHS nurse who was moved from front-line duties after refusing to remove her cross.

The government said it was committed to valuing the contribution Christians made within British society.

'Deeply concerned'

Signatories of the letter include the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, and the Bishops of Winchester and Blackburn.

They accuse nurse Shirley Chaplin's employers of treating her beliefs with disrespect, while happily allowing symbols of other religions to be worn.

There have been numerous dismissals of practising Christians from employment for reasons that are unacceptable in a civilised country
Extract from Bishops' letter

Crucifixes are an important symbol and the government should end its "discrimination", they argued.

Ms Chaplin, from Exeter, is fighting for the right to openly wear a crucifix at work.

The church leaders said it was unacceptable in a civilised society to dismiss Christians from their jobs over matters of conscience.

The letter reads: "We are deeply concerned at the apparent discrimination shown against Christians and we call on the government to remedy this serious development.

"In a number of cases, Christian beliefs on marriage, conscience and worship are simply not being upheld.

"There have been numerous dismissals of practising Christians from employment for reasons that are unacceptable in a civilised country."

A Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: "We're committed to valuing the contribution that Christians make within British society.

"This is evident through our engagement with a wide range of Christian churches at national, regional and local level."

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