The director of the National Office for Vocation of England and Wales was heckled on a radio programme as he began to tell the audience that people of faith often have their views dismissed or ridiculed in the public square.
Appearing as a panellist on the Radio 4 programme Any Questions?, Fr Christopher Jamison said: “I think what concerns me is that there is a kind of new discrimination emerging which is that we are very keen to have a neutral public square which is quite right and proper in a secular democracy. One of the difficulties for people of faith is trying to get their views heard in that public square,” but members of the audience then heckled him.
When the presenter Eddie Mair asked Fr Jamison why he thought he was heckled, he replied: “Well, I was intrigued, it sort of slightly proved the point.”
Fr Jamison, who is former abbot of Worth Abbey in Sussex, was replying to the question of whether he had ever faced discrimination. After being heckled he continued: “There is a real tension here because sometimes it can appear that if you believe certain things, although your opinion will be listened to often it will be ridiculed rather quickly.”
Fr Jamison told the audience: “At the time of the Papal Visit we had a fantastic opportunity afterwards where the British Humanist Association asked to meet a group of Catholic spokespeople and it was a really amazing dialogue. We said that actually there had been too much grandstanding around the time of the Papal visit and it had been a dialogue of the deaf. And when a group of us sat down and talked about the thing more personally there was a much more real engagement of listening and trying to understand.”