Sunday, 11 March 2012

This is why we are not exaggerating

"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..."  [Full report here]
This is why we are not exaggerating when we express fears that Christianity is being made invisible in modern Britain and gradually forced to the margins of public life  When even those who have been traditionally our friends can do this, we are right to be fearful of the future.
It is all too symptomatic of the modern political (and ecclesiastical) trend to utter reassuring noises while doing the complete opposite. What price Baroness Warsi's speech at the Vatican now?

But these are the questions which need to be answered:
Why exactly is it legally necessary or of benefit to society for the Government to contest this case?
Under what principle of harm does the wearing of Christian symbols at work fall? Health and safety issues are merely red herrings; they can easily be dealt with, where necessary, to everyone's mutual satisfaction. 

Clearly it is a minority of Christians who would wish to advertise their allegiance openly in this way and, admittedly, it is not a requirement of any Christian tradition to do so, but why should those who do so wish to identify themselves have no right to do so, given the ubiquity of distinctive religious symbols and clothing worn - at work - by those of other faiths?
This is about much more than that. How, from being fiercely protective of our liberties, did we become such a passive nation so willing to be corralled, stifled and bullied by bureaucratic oppression?
We should be told what this particular Government's agenda is in terms of its attitude to religious faith and the Christian faith in particular. And the Government, in the person of the Prime Minister, if he is man enough, should be prepared to spell it out.
Until such point, as an Edwardian politician once said, if left in the dark with people like this, one would do well to count one's small change.
And remember our principles when we are next in the polling booth.

Thanks to Fr Mervyn Jennings' blog  for publicising the story

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