Draconian UK Government insists Christians can be sacked for wearing crosses

A government document leaked to The Sunday Telegraph shows that David Cameron’s government will insist at the European Court of Human Rights that Christians can be sacked by their employers for wearing crosses or crucifixes.

“Its response states: “The Government submit that… the applicants’ wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was not a manifestation of their religion or belief within the meaning of Article 9, and…the restriction on the applicants’ wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was not an ‘interference’ with their rights protected by Article 9.”

The response, prepared by the Foreign Office, adds: “In neither case is there any suggestion that the wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was a generally recognised form of practising the Christian faith, still less one that is regarded (including by the applicants themselves) as a requirement of the faith.”

Lord Carey said: “The reasoning is based on a wholly inappropriate judgment of matters of theology and worship about which they can claim no expertise.

“The irony is that when governments and courts dictate to Christians that the cross is a matter of insignificance, it becomes an even more important symbol and expression of our faith.”

‘In a highly significant move, ministers will fight a case at the European Court of Human Rights in which two British women will seek to establish their right to display the cross.

It is the first time that the Government has been forced to state whether it backs the right of Christians to wear the symbol at work.

A document seen by The Sunday Telegraph discloses that ministers will argue that because it is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith, employers can ban the wearing of the cross and sack workers who insist on doing so.’

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.

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.

They say that Christians are given less protection than members of other religions who have been granted special status for garments or symbols such as the Sikh turban and kara bracelet, or the Muslim hijab.

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.

Mrs Eweida’s case dates from 2006 when she was suspended for refusing to take off the cross which her employers claimed breached BA’s uniform code.

The 61 year-old, from Twickenham, is a Coptic Christian who argued that BA allowed members of other faiths to wear religious garments and symbols.

BA later changed its uniform policy but Mrs Eweida lost her challenge against an earlier employment tribunal decision at the Court of Appeal and in May 2010 was refused permission to go to the Supreme Court.

Mrs Chaplin, 56, from Exeter, was barred from working on wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after she refused to hide the cross she wore on a necklace chain, ending 31 years of nursing.

Andrea Williams, the director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “It is extraordinary that a Conservative government should argue that the wearing of a cross is not a generally recognised practice of the Christian faith.

“In recent months the courts have refused to recognise the wearing of a cross, belief in marriage between a man and a woman and Sundays as a day of worship as ‘core’ expressions of the Christian faith.

“What next? Will our courts overrule the Ten Commandments?”

Growing anger among Christians will be highlighted today by Delia Smith, the television chef and practising Roman Catholic, who will issue a Lent appeal on behalf the Church’s charity, Cafod, accusing “militant neo-atheists and devout secularists” of “busting a gut to drive us off the radar and try to convince us that we hardly exist”.

Protect the Pope Comment: The UK government does not have the authority nor the competence to determine that wearing a cross or crucifix is not intrinsic or necessary to the practice of Christianity.  This attempt by the government to define what is or is not Christian practice makes a nonsense of the article in the Human Rights Act  establishing individuals’ freedom of religion.

Basically, David Cameron is saying Christians can only have freedom of religion on terms set by the government. What’s the difference between this authoritarian control of religion by a conservative government and that of the Chinese communist tyrants?

Furthermore, this is just another example of government lawyers imposing an extremely narrow definition of the beliefs and practices of Christians. Last year a UK judge argued that the Christian moral teaching on homosexuality was not essential to being Christian and therefore was not covered by the Human Rights Act.

It is  obvious that the UK government, and the legal establishment are seeking to find ways to circumvent article 9 in the Human Rights Act. Freedom of religion will only be allowed to Christians on terms set by the government, making the Catholic Church, and all other christian communities in this country, state-controlled religions.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9136191/Christians-have-no-right-to-wear-cross-at-work-says-Government.html

 

 

 

32 comments to Draconian UK Government insists Christians can be sacked for wearing crosses

  • harry

    The wording is:

    Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
    1. 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, and to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

    2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

    An example of pushing such freedoms beyond acceptable bouns is at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connolly_v_DPP

  • Karla

    Disgusting – a Christian can not wear a Cross, but a Muslim can wear a Hijab and a Sikh can wear a turban?! Discrimination against Christians once again.

    • harry

      A Christian can wear a cross,not always on view. For example where jewelery isn’t allowed. I don’t think that its part of being a christian to wear one, though very common.

      So far as I can see a turban is part of being a sikh – see http://sikhism.about.com/od/religioustolerance/a/Sikh_Turban.htm

      So far as I understand a hijab is cultural.

      All of this begs a question. What is the reason given for refusing the cross? If its a ban on jewelery then I can’t see a problem.

      Whatever the reason, and lets assume that its a ban on religious symbols for the sake of discussion; then people with some natural self confidence might not worry too much about apparent trivia.

      • ms catholic state

        Apparently the Government hates us to witness to our Faith. They must be anti-Christs since the wearing of a Crucifix alone is so horrible to them. A bit like Obama covering up the Crucifix at Notre Dame….and giving all kinds of spurious reasons as to why. Believe me….no other religious symbol is treated with such contempt. Well it is the One True Faith…so go figure.

        Surely there must be some dissenting Christian voices in the Government. After all….Christians did elect them!! Pathetic.

        • harry

          Just to make it clear to me; what was the official reason for no corsses in these 2 ladies case?

          • ms catholic state

            It is simply because the employer doesn’t want employees to wear the Cross because they figure it is not a requirememt of our religion. But that is debatable. We are required to give witness by our actions…but if we cannot be identified as Christians then how is anyone to know that our actions are based on our Faith?!

            It seems to me that the spread and influence of our Faith is a detestable thing in the sight of our present day brood of vipers….I mean secular establishement.

      • Karla

        But the Cross is of extreme religious significance to a Christian and that has to be taken into consideration.

        Why should the government dictate what anybody wears? If freedom loving people ignore this, what will they do the next time the government says you can not wear X.

        • Fred

          If I come from a foreign land, and if my religion/culture is that I wear nothing but a red feather [lets forget the hooly hooly skirt] in my hair, and I quite reasonably protest that my god and my culture demand that I didsplay myself ‘as god made me’ – what does HMG do?

  • Andrzej

    Again: When will HRH the Queen Dei gratia and Fidei defensatrix take a stand on this issue?

  • spesalvi23

    Sometimes I wonder what the problem is. What’s so offensive? Are they all vampires – afraid of crumbling to a heap of dust, or choking to death when exposed to crucifixes around people’s necks?
    If it’s simply a question of getting their way with this – where or when will it stop?

    Again my question: nothing more important to tackle?

  • CathChap

    The part of the government’s reasoning that I really don’t like is the idea that they or the courts are in a position to decide if wearing the cross if an essential part of christianity or not (seems to me that it isn’t for some people and it is for others). Secularism ought to mean that the government aviod having to answer questions like that at all. Whatever is decided it needs to be decided on principles that are religiously neutral and religiously-blind. Then the outcome would apply equally to all religions and also non-religious symbols equallly. I don;t believe that religious symbols should get special protection but isn’t that what is being given to some muslim symbols?

  • Nous nous acheminons vers la dictature!…
    c’est pitoyable!

  • …mon Dieu! when I think that I had an icon of the Virgin Mary and a picture of Pius XII on my desk when I worked at the Banque de l’Indochine and my sister also had placed an icon of Our Lady on the wall of her office when she was Mayor of the 7th district in the City of Lyon! nobody had worried us so far…

  • Fred

    So, it looks like a lot of discussion has gone on about an issue where no one seems to know, or can say, what the original reason for banning crosses was.

    Is that a fair summary?

    • If you know the answer, please, let us know!

      • Fred

        This is rather the point Lionel. I don’t know, and I’m not beefing on about what is happening, because I like to know what I’m talking about before I allege ‘discrimination’.

        My point is that a headline like ‘Draconian UK Government insists Christians can be sacked for wearing crosses’ really should give the basic facts of the case, such as why the employers originally banned them.

        And if, on the basis of facts, there is a decent case that there really was discrimination, then I’d be right behind the complaint. And that would be my stance on a complaint from anyone.

        What makes the discussion silly [at best] is when people make comments about discrimination and then expect to be taken seriously, because their case is ‘obvious’.

        To a layman its not obvious and makes me wonder why people visit the site. I do it because I’m genuinely interested in how all sorts of people see the world.

        So, can anyone tell me what reason the employers originally gave for the ban. Its put up or shut up time folks.

        • Deacon Nick

          Fred, if you read the original post you’d know the answer to your endlessly repeated question. So here’s the relevant section again just for you:

          ‘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.

          Mrs Eweida’s case dates from 2006 when she was suspended for refusing to take off the cross which her employers claimed breached BA’s uniform code.

          The 61 year-old, from Twickenham, is a Coptic Christian who argued that BA allowed members of other faiths to wear religious garments and symbols. [Fred, for a layman, this is what makes it discrimination]

          BA later changed its uniform policy but Mrs Eweida lost her challenge against an earlier employment tribunal decision at the Court of Appeal and in May 2010 was refused permission to go to the Supreme Court.

          Mrs Chaplin, 56, from Exeter, was barred from working on wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after she refused to hide the cross she wore on a necklace chain, ending 31 years of nursing.’

          I’ve been watching you repeat your question with growing boredom over the past couple of days, as you obviously thought you had discovered, with your superior intellect, a trap to discredit this discussion. Next time take the trouble to read the posts before spouting off. Deacon Nick

          • Fred

            No Nick, very average intellect, which is why I asked simple questions.

            ‘Mrs Chaplin,56,from Exeter,was barred from working on wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after she refused to hide the cross she wore on a necklace chain,ending 31 years of nursing.’

            That tells us how long the lady wore the cross, not why she had to remove it.

          • Deacon Nick

            Fred, I notice you don’t refer to the Nadia Eweida case which proves the point of the thread. I also notice you don’t apologize for wasting our time by your failure to read the original post with the attention of average intelligence. If your interest in the Chaplin case is genuine, and I doubt that, I suggest you use google. Deacon Nick

  • Mark Thorne

    If the Government sees fit to ban the public display of crucifixes, then for the sake of consistency they ought to ban the Union Jack and the various national flags: these all comprise Christian crosses.

  • Fred

    Given that no-one can tell us [or is willing to tell us] what the original reason for the cross bans was, it suggests [to me at least] that this was yet another thread where people could indulge themselves with lines like ‘Discrimination against Christians once again’.

  • Fred

    Deacon Nick
    March 14,2012 at 3:00 pm
    Fred,I notice you don’t refer to the Nadia Eweida case which proves the point of the thread. I also notice you don’t apologize for wasting our time by your failure to read the original post with the attention of average intelligence. If your interest in the Chaplin case is genuine,and I doubt that,I suggest you use google. Deacon Nick

    Then I do apologise Nick. Sloppy posts are not good.

    I have no interest in the case, but I do have an interest in people thinking about exited complaints without looking behind the story.

  • Kinga Grzeczynska LLB

    Mrs Shirley Chaplin lost her case for discrimination in 2010. Her employer the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS FT stated that Mrs Chaplin’s Cross was breaching Health and Safety Guidelines of the Royal & Devon NHS Foundation Trust. The employer asked Mrs Chaplin to wear her Cross in ‘alternative ways’. Mrs Chaplin refused because she felt that was unsatisfactory.
    Because this is a Foundation Trust, the Council of Governors would address issues of Health and Safety.
    I would like to know how big the Cross was? There are several reports to this.
    If her Cross was was interfering with her work on the wards, then sensibly she would have removed it. However, if the Cross rests on the upper chest, and is not chocking her or causing her to be distracted from her duties, then she should have been allowed to wear the Cross.

    The whole matter rested on issues of Health and safety.

    on the other hand Nadia Eweida a BA employee also failed in her discrimination case about the same time as Shirley Chaplin.
    Again, both ladies wore an uniform. Here, Nadia Eweida had a change to her uniform policy, when BA changed the high neck to a low neck top. At that change, BA stated that no items were to be worn around the neck.[2004]
    A further change happened in 2007 when a new policy was issued by BA, permitting staff to display a faith or charity symbol while wearing their uniform.

    So, one employer allows faith symbols to be worn and then sacks the employee and the other employer does not allow faith symbols to be worn because it breaches H&S policies.

    The Governors of the Trust have a duty be make sure that the Trust – The Chair, CEO and The Board are complying with the requisite of Monitor and The Health Care Commission – both being Regulators of the NHS.
    BA cannot afford to have cases of discrimination against then, so they changed their uniform policy and implemented their own rules with it.

    It seems to me that there are many people who wish to eradicate any sign of Christianity by creating pockets or holes in our Faith and hoping that it will collapse around us.

    Please don’t mention the word Consultation with regards to the changes on the definition of marriage.

    It seems to me that it is already decided.

    However, remember God’s Ways are not our ways. Time will tell.

  • Mic

    I am a Christian who attends Church regularly. We discussed this at Church on Sunday and after reviewing the 2nd Commandment of the Ten Commandments, it states “You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments:. Therefore after reading that again, I do believe it is not a requirement and I totally understand the stand of the UK government.

  • [...] It appears that there is a movement in England to allow employers to fire employees for wearing religious items, specifically crucifixes or crosses. Deacon Nick reports with my emphasis in bold: A government document leaked to The Sunday Telegraph shows that David Cameron’s government will insist at the European Court of Human Rights that Christians can be sacked by their employers for wearing crosses or crucifixes. “Its response states: “The Government submit that… the applicants’ wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was not a manifestation of their religion or belief within the meaning of Article 9,and…the restriction on the applicants’wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was not an ‘interference’ with their rights protected by Article 9.” The response,prepared by the Foreign Office,adds:“In neither case is there any suggestion that the wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was a generally recognised form of practising the Christian faith,still less one that is regarded (including by the applicants themselves) as a requirement of the faith.” Lord Carey said:“The reasoning is based on a wholly inappropriate judgment of matters of theology and worship about which they can claim no expertise. “The irony is that when governments and courts dictate to Christians that the cross is a matter of insignificance,it becomes an even more important symbol and expression of our faith.” ‘In a highly significant move,ministers will fight a case at the European Court of Human Rights in which two British women will seek to establish their right to display the cross. It is the first time that the Government has been forced to state whether it backs the right of Christians to wear the symbol at work. A document seen by The Sunday Telegraph discloses that ministers will argue that because it is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith,employers can ban the wearing of the cross and sack workers who insist on doing so.’ 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. 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. They say that Christians are given less protection than members of other religions who have been granted special status for garments or symbols such as the Sikh turban and kara bracelet,or the Muslim hijab. 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. Mrs Eweida’s case dates from 2006 when she was suspended for refusing to take off the cross which her employers claimed breached BA’s uniform code. The 61 year-old,from Twickenham,is a Coptic Christian who argued that BA allowed members of other faiths to wear religious garments and symbols. BA later changed its uniform policy but Mrs Eweida lost her challenge against an earlier employment tribunal decision at the Court of Appeal and in May 2010 was refused permission to go to the Supreme Court. Mrs Chaplin,56,from Exeter,was barred from working on wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after she refused to hide the cross she wore on a necklace chain,ending 31 years of nursing. Andrea Williams,the director of the Christian Legal Centre,said:“It is extraordinary that a Conservative government should argue that the wearing of a cross is not a generally recognised practice of the Christian faith. “In recent months the courts have refused to recognise the wearing of a cross,belief in marriage between a man and a woman and Sundays as a day of worship as ‘core’ expressions of the Christian faith. “What next? Will our courts overrule the Ten Commandments?” Growing anger among Christians will be highlighted today by Delia Smith,the television chef and practising Roman Catholic,who will issue a Lent appeal on behalf the Church’s charity,Cafod,accusing “militant neo-atheists and devout secularists” of “busting a gut to drive us off the radar and try to convince us that we hardly exist”. http://protectthepope.com/?p=4829 [...]

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