Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The offense of the cross

Aw, diddums, seems that secularists may be so offended by someone wearing, gasp... a cross, that top government lawyers have had to be brought in to offer them the full protection of the law.

According to the Telegraph Christians should 'leave their beliefs at home or get another job'

The background of the situation is the four Christians taking a legal challenge across to the European courts to try to overturn what they see as discriminatory practices against them. There are a number of issues being looked at but the one that interests me the most is that of wearing a cross or crucifix and how that seems to inflammatory as to require government legal input.

Every faith or distinction, religious or not has it's own fundamentalist or it's own Fred Phelps and it seems that the masses of the secularists and humanists have their very own in James Eadie QC. He is reported as saying:
James Eadie QC, acting for the government, told the European court that the refusal to allow an NHS nurse and a British Airways worker to visibly wear a crucifix at work “did not prevent either of them practicing religion in private”, which would be protected by human rights law. 
He argued that that a Christian, or any other religious believer, “under difficulty” is not discriminated against if the choice of “resigning and moving to a different job” is not blocked. “The option remains open to them,” he said.
Government lawyers also told the Strasbourg court that wearing a cross is not a “generally recognised” act of Christian worship and is not required by scripture.
I can agree that there may be health and safety reasons with wearing a cross on a chain for some types of work, indeed my own type of work means I would be negligent if I did as I work with machinery and rotating equipment. But when you start to bar a symbol of Christian faith exclusively of other faiths then I think you are straying into dangerous waters. It is true that the wearing of a cross is not a "generally recognised” act of Christian worship and is not required by scripture. Neither is a Muslim headscarf and I expect the government's legal beagles will back pedal rapidly should this factor raise it's head.

We often hear calls along the lines of 'separation of church and state' from those who define themselves primarily by the secularist or humanist labels and I would generally agree. But I would also call for a 'separation of church from state'.

If I was a self-defined secularist or a humanist then I would be feeling pretty sheepish now. To think that I could be so offended by a piece of metal and needed the protection of the government to make me sleep easily at night..

Perhaps Paul was onto something?