Christmas 'Should Be Downgraded to Help Race Relations'; Nativity Scene: But Britain Is No Longer Christian, Says the Report

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Byline: James Chapman

CHRISTMAS should be downgraded in favour of festivals from otherreligions to improve race relations, says an explosive report.

Labour's favourite think-tank says that because it would be hard to 'expunge'Christmas from the national calendar, 'even-handedness' means publicorganisations must start giving other religions equal footing.

The leaked findings of its investigation into identity, citizenship andcommunity cohesion also propose: * 'Birth ceremonies', at which state andparents agree to 'work in partnership' to bring up children * Action to 'ensureaccess' for ethnic minorities to 'largely white' countryside * An overhaul ofBritain's 'imperial' honours system * Bishops being thrown out of the House ofLords * An end to 'sectarian' religious education * Flying flags other than theUnion Jack.

The report by the Institute for Public Policy Research was commissioned whenNick Pearce, now head of public policy at Downing Street, was its director.IPPR has shaped many Labour policies, including ID cards, bin taxes and roadpricing.

The report robustly defends multiculturalism - the idea that differentcommunities should not be forced to integrate but should be allowed to maintaintheir own culture and identities.

And it says immigrants should be required to acquire some proficiencyrelations' in English and other aspects of British culture 'if - but only if -the settled population is willing to open up national institutions andpractices to newcomers and give a more inclusive cast to national narrativesand symbols'.

It adds: 'Even-handedness dictates that we provide public recognition tominority cultures and traditions. If we are going to continue as a nation tomark Christmas - and it would be relations' Brown to ers Ben Rogers and RickMuir, calls on Ministers to launch an 'urgent and upfront campaign' promoting a'multicultural understanding of Britishness'.

'Multiculturalism can be shown to provide for a fairer and more liberal societyand does not necessarily lead to social division and community conflict, as itscritics have claimed,' it says.

Councils must act to 'ensure children mix and are able to form friendships withpupils from different backgrounds'. …