I was asked to speak on the subject to BBC Radio Merseyside this morning and you can hear my contribution HERE (I am at 01:06:00 the contribution from the EHRC is at 00:06:00 )
My main point which I have made before is that the real problem is the fact that people increasingly look for reasons to be 'offended' rather than adopting a 'live and let live' attitude to others.
The EHRC consultation elicited responses from 2,500 people with the largest number of responses coming from Christians from a number of denominations. The EHRC website says that
"Positive experiences included respondents describing workplaces with an inclusive environment in which employees and employers were able to discuss openly the impact of religion or belief on employees or customers. Some respondents of different religions also reported they were easily able to take time off to celebrate religious holidays.
Some employees or service users stated that they had experienced no or few negative issues in their workplace or in receiving a service which they attributed to the view of employers or service providers that religion or belief was a private matter and should not be discussed in the workplace or the service.
Some employees and students stated that they had encountered hostile and unwelcoming environments in relation to the holding, or not holding, of a religion or belief. The issues raised concerned the recruitment process, working conditions, including the wearing of religious clothing or symbols, promotion and progression, and time off work for religious holidays and holy days. Some reported that particular beliefs were mocked or dismissed in the workplace or classroom, or criticised unwelcome 'preaching' or proselytising, or the expression of hurtful or derogatory remarks aimed at particular groups.
Employees and employers reported that requests relating to religion or belief issues were not always fairly dealt with in the workplace and some called for better guidance on how to achieve this.
Many participants were concerned about the right balance between the freedom to express religious views and the right of others to be free from discrimination or harassment. Specific issues raised included conscientious objection in relation to marriage of same sex couples and how to protect employees from harassment and discrimination by staff, customers or service users with a religion. There was a marked divergence of opinion about when it was desirable and appropriate to discuss religious beliefs with service users during the delivery of a service.
A group of service providers with a religious ethos expressed concerns about reductions in funding opportunities from the public and private sectors.
Some participants viewed the current equality and human rights legal framework relating to religion or belief favourably, arguing that it provided a single robust framework to deal with discrimination and equality. Others were broadly favourable, but felt a pluralistic approach had not yet gone far enough. A third group viewed the law negatively, with some Christian employers, service users and providers considering that Christianity had lost status as a result of the legal framework. "