LONDON, UK, April 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a strongly-worded statement submitted to the European Court of Human Rights, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord George Carey has said that Christians in Britain are being “vilified” by the courts and “driven underground” with the same kind of persecution once directed at homosexuals.

In particular Carey pointed the finger at the British judiciary’s use of equality law to marginalize Christianity.

“In a country where Christians can be sacked for manifesting their faith, are vilified by State bodies, are in fear of reprisal or even arrest for expressing their views on sexual ethics, something is very wrong,” Lord Carey wrote.

“It affects the moral and ethical compass of the United Kingdom. Christians are excluded from many sectors of employment simply because of their beliefs; beliefs which are not contrary to the public good.”

Lord Carey’s comments were made in anticipation of a case on religious freedom to be heard by the ECHR in Strasbourg on September 4.

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The case was launched by four UK Christians who charge that the country’s courts failed to protect their religious freedom.

The plaintiffs include Lillian Ladele, a marriage registrar who refused to perform same-sex civil partnerships, Gary McFarlane, a relationships counselor who was sacked for refusing to give homosexual sex advice, and two women, Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin, who were fired for wearing a cross at work.

Lord Carey stated that British courts have “consistently applied equality law to discriminate against Christians” and have treated individuals who openly express their faith as “bigots.”

“It is now Christians who are persecuted,” Lord Carey wrote, “often sought out and framed by homosexual activists.”

Noting that British courts have failed to protect Christian beliefs in “case after case” under a new “secular conformity of belief and conduct,” the former Archbishop of Canterbury decried that “Christians are driven underground.”

“There appears to be a clear animus to the Christian faith and to Judaeo-Christian values. Clearly the courts of the United Kingdom require guidance,” Lord Carey concluded.

Reacting to Lord Carey’s submission to the ECHR, the executive director of the UK’s National Secular Society, Keith Porteous-Wood, told the Daily Mail, “The idea that there is any kind of suppression of religion in Britain is ridiculous. Even in the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to religious freedom is not absolute – it is not a licence to trample on the rights of others. That seems to be what Lord Carey wants to do.”

However, in his Easter Sunday homily, Britain’s highest Catholic prelate, Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien of Edinburgh, also acknowledged the growing “marginalization of religion” in the UK, and called on the faithful to wear a cross “each and every day of their lives” as a sign of the Christian’s desire to imitate Christ.

“Whether on a simple chain or pinned to a lapel, the cross identifies us as disciples of Christ and we should wear it with pride,” Cardinal O’Brien stated.