Two-Thirds Demand Respect for Religion; Christianity Has a Place in Public Life, Says Poll

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Byline: Steve Doughty Social Affairs Correspondent

TWO-THIRDS of Britons believe that the role of religion in public life should be respected, a BBC poll found yesterday.

The survey also backed the claim often made by Christian churches - that followers of minority faiths would prefer to live in a country guided by Christian values than a secular one.

The poll, carried out for the BBC by ComRes, suggests that falling church attendance is not matched by widespread apathy about religion.

The findings come in the wake of a series of scandals in which public officials have tried to penalise Christians for showing or acting on their faith.

These include the case of Caroline Petrie, the nurse suspended for praying for a patient; Jennie

Cain, the school receptionist facing disciplinary action because she sent an e-mail asking friends to pray for her daughter; and the foster mother banned from looking after children by her local council because her 16-year-old Muslim foster daughter decided to convert to Christianity. Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu wrote recently in the Daily Mail that state officials who try to suppress Christianity betray 'a growing gap between the mindset of the governing and the governed'.

The BBC survey's findings suggest that his conclusions were right.

The poll, which questioned 1,045 people, found that 63 per cent of them thought that the law should respect and be influreligious enced by Britain's traditional religious values - in other words, Christianity. …