Bishop of Burnley supports Prime Minister's Christmas comments

(from left to right) Bishop Philip North, Bishop Julian Henderson, and Bishop Geoff Pearson.
(from left to right) Bishop Philip North, Bishop Julian Henderson, and Bishop Geoff Pearson.

The Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev. Philip North, has welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s comments urging people to speak more freely about religion at work and in public.

The Prime Minister’s comments come in the wake of a report by the Evangelical Alliance and the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, which warned that some employers do not celebrate Christmas for fear of offending other staff.

Prime Minister Teresa May, who is the daughter of a Church of England vicar, said: "I'm happy to welcome the publication of the report and its findings.

"Of course we are now into the season of Advent, and we have a very strong tradition in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech and our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of," she continued.

"I'm sure that we would all want to ensure that people at work do feel able to speak about their faith and are also able to speak quite freely about Christmas."

Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, the Bishop of Blackburn; Rt Rev. Geoff Pearson, the Bishop of Lancaster and Rt Rev. Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley, said: “The comments by the Prime Minister are very welcome, especially as we are now in the Advent season, approaching Christmas.

“To be effective witnesses, Christians in our parishes should feel confident to speak about their faith in every area of their lives – including at work. For Christians, having a living faith is more than just a casual interest. It is central to our lives and makes us who we are.

“If it is acceptable for people to talk about hobbies at work, then how much more important should it be for a Christian to be able to be open about their faith and to feel comfortable doing so?” they added.

"Our Diocese has an excellent track record in inter-faith relations and when we speak to our friends in other faiths they are often incredulous that some employers would discourage talk about Christmas for fear of offending them.

“We hope Mrs May’s comments today will help to galvanise a new era of common sense in relation to this issue from employers across the UK.”