Archbishop of Southwark concerned by findings in new report by equality body

Archbishop Peter Smith has spoken of the “seriously troubling practices” at workplaces in Britain where Christians are prevented from expressing their faith.

The Archbishop of Southwark, who is chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales’s department for Christian responsibility and citizenship, was responding to a new survey on religion and belief in the workplace by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The report suggested that religious people feel under pressure to keep their beliefs and faith symbols hidden at work, complaining of being mocked as bigots.

“It is encouraging that a number of respondents described inclusive environments in which their beliefs are respected, however the findings have also highlighted some examples of seriously troubling practices including people being treated unfavourably or prevented from expressing their faith,” said Archbishop Smith.

“Most striking is the level of uncertainty among employers, service providers, workers and students about how laws protecting freedom of religion or belief should be implemented in practice.”

He added: “I understand that the Equality and Human Rights Commission will be using these findings in a review of current legislation and the production of further guidance. This offers a valuable opportunity to ensure that everybody is treated with fairness, dignity and respect – and that the positive contribution people of faith bring to society is more truly recognised.”