Christian evangelical groups have been accused of trying to undermine an effort by a teaching organisation to protect children from bullies.
The General Teaching Council is conducting a consultation on a proposed Code of Conduct and Practice.
The evangelicals have taken exception to one section of the Code which reads:
“Registered teachers should proactively challenge discrimination, stereotyping and bullying, no matter who is the victim or perpetrator; promote equality and value diversity in all their professional relationships and interactions.”
The Christian Institute and other evangelical groups have interpreted this be “a tool for promoting secularism and gay rights” and have orchestrated a mass write-in by their members objecting to it.
In a mail-out to its supporters it listed some “examples” of supposed discriminations that Christians have suffered.
They include a nurse who was disciplined for offering to “pray” for patients and a registrar who tried to claim that she should be excused from some of her duties because of her religious prejudice against gay people.
The Institute claims that under the GTC guidelines Christian teachers will have to treat gay kids with respect regardless of their views on homosexuality.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said:
“The Christian Institute is an unpleasant bunch at the best of times, but this really scrapes the bottom of the barrel.
“Who could possibly object to children being protected from the prejudices of bullies, bigots and zealots when they are captive in school?
“The objections to this Code of Practice are not only nasty, they are unconvincing and exaggerated.”
The NSS has written to the GTC warning them that an orchestrated campaign is underway and urging them to leave the section of their Code unchanged.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said:
“Christians would support most of the code, but many are alarmed by the new diversity rules.
“Under the code, Christian teachers will be required to ‘proactively combat discrimination’ and ‘value diversity’ based on religious belief and sexual orientation.
“The code rightly requires that teachers should respect their colleagues and those they teach.
“But respect for people as people is not the same as respecting or valuing every religious belief or sexual lifestyle.
“Forcing this on Christian teachers is to force them to go against their conscience.”