Church care homes could be forced to remove crucifixes from their walls in case they offend "atheist cleaners" under the new Equality Bill, Catholic bishops have warned
By Stephen Adams
The way the bill is written means non-Christians could sue for harassment if church authorities do not remove religious imagery, according to Monsignor Andrew Summersgill, general secretary of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.
He said the bill, currently being examined by Parliament's Equality Bill Committee, could have a "chilling effect" on religious expression.
Under the terms of the bill, harassment is defined as "unwanted conduct with the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment".
Bishops are concerned that religious authorities could be left in an impossible legal position, because under the bill it would be up to the employer to prove that displaying such an image did not amount to harassment or an employee.
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