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Christians May Not Wear Cross At Work, Says UK Government

Christians May Not Wear Cross At Work, Says UK Government

The British government is set to argue at the European Court of Human Rights that Christians do not have the right to wear a cross or crucifix openly at work.

But wait, Christians in the UK are not allowed to wear a cross, while Sikhs can wear turbans, and Muslims are free to don the hijab? What are we to make of this?

Furthermore, when a UK court banned the use of Christian prayers at public meetings recently, the Conservative government was up in arms.

So what’s going on?

Wearing A Crucifix Not A “Requirement” Of The Christian Faith

Apparently the government will argue that employers can ban the wearing of the cross and sack workers who insist on doing so because wearing the crucifix is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith.

The Government’s position received an angry response last week from prominent figures including Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

He accused ministers and the courts of “dictating” to Christians and said it was another example of Christianity becoming sidelined in official life.

From The Telegraph:

The Strasbourg case hinges on whether human rights laws protect the right to wear a cross or crucifix at work under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

It states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”

The Christian women bringing the case, Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin, claim that they were discriminated against when their employers barred them from wearing the symbols.

They want the European Court to rule that this breached their human right to manifest their religion.

The Government’s official response states that wearing the cross is not a “requirement of the faith” and therefore does not fall under the remit of Article 9.

Lawyers for the two women claim that the Government is setting the bar too high and that “manifesting” religion includes doing things that are not a “requirement of the faith”, and that they are therefore protected by human rights.

Last year it emerged that Mrs Eweida, a British Airways worker, and Mrs Chaplin, a nurse, had taken their fight to the European Court in Strasbourg after both faced disciplinary action for wearing a cross at work.

Eweida argued that British Airways allowed members of other faiths to wear religious garments and symbols.

Chaplin was barred from working on hospital wards after she refused to hide the cross she wore on a necklace chain, ending 31 years of nursing.

The Archbishop Of Canterbury Distances Himself

Separating himself from some of his Christian colleagues, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, seemed to undermine the case for wearing the crucifix when he said that for many Christians, it has become little more than jewellery, “which religious people make and hang on to” as a substitute for true faith.

Williams, speaking at a church service in Rome where he met the Pope on the weekend, said the cross had been stripped of its meaning as part of a tendency to manufacture religion.

A great comment to start a whole new chain of dialog!

This seems a strange position for the Government to take, given the rights of other religions to wear things signifying their faith. And it’s hard to see what they can gain by pursuing this ban on crosses. Or, indeed, how they can reconcile lauding Christian prayers in public and banning the wearing of a cross.

And all those crosses in Britain – will they soon rename Charing Cross?

What do you think?

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Photo Credit: Mark Rantal

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246 comments

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7:57PM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

if Christians fight this, then Nazis should be allowed to wear their swastika, and the white clad KKK should be allowed to go to work in their sheets.

3:14AM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

If you feel you need to wear a cross, keep it tucked in your clothes. If you insist on wearing it visibly you are advertising.
How much hassle would I get if I were to wear an atheist or pagan or Jewish pendant outside my shirt?
Should my choice be any more, or less, acceptable than yours?
I believe one's choice to have no religion or to have any variant of religion should be a private matter. Once it is, by intent, worn publicly you are making a statement, not worshiping.

11:41AM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

Dare I suggest that most delicate art of compromise be employed here for those who feel that their religion demands the wearing of a cross?( Ooo I do!) Just tuck it beneath your shirt where you can feel it against your heart/chest and be done with it. It's getting more than a little tiresome to keep hearing about various and sundry "religious"people whinging on about all their "rights" - which MUST be shoved in everyone elses faces - get over yourselves - nobody else is interested in your displays, and many of us are beyond sick of wasting tax dollars on these frivolous cases.

11:26AM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

@ Gina D: If the UK government banned burqa's, long beards and such, even if it was for some religious (read islame bullshit) reasons, would you be crying "racism/islame-a-phobie/etc"

Personally, I don't care if the ban ALL religious symbolism, and one day I hope all people realize religion=bullshit, but to say you can't wear a cross while having prayer rooms, allowing burquas, long beards etc is crap

10:51AM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

hey ho - can't anyone find anything more productive to get so irate about?

2:57AM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

When will the british government find their backbone and stand up for the christians in their own country. Every other religion has rights, what about us.

11:05AM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

The trouble with the British government's definition is that they are lumping all Christians in the same pot. There are some "christians' for whom the wearing of a cross is little more than wearing jewelry. However, for other Christians such as those who are adherents of the Eastern Orthodox branch of Christian, our crosses/crucifixes are not mere decoration. We receive them on our baptisms or Chrismations (Confirmation) and they are a visible sign of our faith! We are marked by the seal of Christ...and the cross demonstrates that. So yes it IS a requirement for us to wear our crosses. If we remove them, basically, it's the same as conforming to the ways of the world rather than following Christ. Notice that no one is telling Jews to remove a star of David, nor telling Sikhs to remove their headcoverings. Yet, the British government thinks it's ok to tell Christians to remove their crosses? That is plain wrong and unfair. Christians: it's time to take a stand. WEAR YOUR CROSS TODAY! The ONLY way someone will remove my cross from my neck is if I am dead! It's that simple.

8:58AM PDT on Mar 23, 2012

There's nothing illegal about an employer placing a *general* ban on necklaces or jewelry in the workplace (due to safety reasons, uniformity, or whatever). Your religion does not grant you any special exemptions to the rules that everybody else has to follow. It's true that an employer is not allowed to discriminate on the basis of religious content (i.e. he can't tell you not to wear a particular necklace because it's christian or religious), but there's no evidence that British Airways did such a thing here.

8:30PM PDT on Mar 22, 2012

In which fairy tale did you find that, Maria del mar N.?

9:57AM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

England and is officially a Muslim country and a country of Freemasons who dominate the highest political offices are open enemies satanic cults and Christianity.

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