Christians in Britain are being "driven underground", "vilified" by the state and sacked simply for expressing their beliefs, a former Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.
Dr George Carey has accused British courts of treating traditional Christians like "bigots" and "persecuting" them in the same way that homosexuals once were.
The ex-leader of more than 70 million Anglicans warned that the outward expression of traditional conservative Christian values had effectively been "banned" in Britain under a new "secular conformity of belief and conduct".
He said that Christians would face a "religious bar" to employment if rulings against wearing crosses and expressing their beliefs are not reversed.
His comments come in a direct appeal to the European Court of Human Rights ahead of a landmark case on religious freedom.
In a written submission seen by 'The Daily Telegraph', Dr Carey argues that in "case after case" British courts have failed to protect Christian values and he makes a direct appeal to European judges to correct the balance.
The hearing, which is due to start in Strasbourg on September 4, will deal with the case of two employees forced out of their jobs over the wearing of crosses.
It will also take in the case of Gary McFarlane, a counsellor who was sacked for saying that he may not be comfortable in giving sex therapy to homosexual couples and a Christian registrar who wished not to conduct civil partnership ceremonies.
The former church head warns of a "drive to remove Judaeo-Christian values from the public square".
Courts in Britain have "consistently applied equality law to discriminate against Christians", he wrote.
"It is now Christians who are persecuted -- often sought out and framed by homosexual activists. Christians are driven underground."
However, Keith Porteous-Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said: "The idea that there is any kind of suppression of religion in Britain is ridiculous." (© Daily Telegraph, London)