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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Reverend Batshit On The Cross


[Update at end of post]

Anyone reading the Daily Mail, or its broadsheet equivalent the Maily Telegraph, recently could have easily been persuaded that Christianity was yet again under siege from militant secularists, the ECHR, and for good measure, probably Evan Harris as well. It’s all about wearing a cross at work. And it’s been banned. And the Government has joined the militant secularists.

Sad to say, this is a complete crock of crap, although from the entrance into this particular tackle with both feet by the routinely batshit Peter Mullen, readers might be persuaded otherwise. Mullen, whose thunderous denunciation is no longer in demand at the Mail, has fetched up at Telegraph blogs, where those who linger within the comments sewer are more appreciative of his ranting.

Mullen takes issue with the view of Rowan Williams, the senior cleric in his own Church, in his support of BA worker Nadia Eweida: “it removes rights from a practitioner of the Christian faith which has shaped European civilisation for 2000 years and redistributes these rights to its aggressive secular opponents whose stated aim is to obliterate Christianity from the public realm”.

But that view does no such thing, and nor does Ms Eweida face any “aggressive secular opponents”. BA’s uniform policy was that no visual adornments could be worn around the neck, and so her cross would have to be worn underneath her uniform. It didn’t stop her wearing it. She got that overturned, but this was not enough: she could then not work on Christmas Day.

This was despite her having signed a contract that meant she was available for work on any of the 365 days of the year. Then she could not work on Sundays. And what is the busiest day of the week at London’s Heathrow airport? This was a worker making an uncompromising pain in the neck of herself. Lesser known and non-unionised employers would have devised a way of getting shot of her.

The other case that Mullen is referring to – and which has been featured alongside that of Ms Eweida – is that of nurse Shirley Chaplin, who asserted that she had been prevented from wearing a cross at work, whereas in reality there was a dress code that banned the wearing of hanging jewellery around the neck, whatever the wearer’s religious affiliation, to stop patients grabbing at it.

In both cases, nobody is putting Christianity under the cosh: rather, these are cases where previously established dress codes are being enforced. And this is why the Government will not be supporting Ms Eweida or Ms Chaplin in their appearance before the ECHR. No secularists are involved, nor any aggression. Employers have rights too, and enforcing a dress code is one of them. End of story, Reverend.

[UPDATE 1640 hours: Dan, Dan the Oratory Man has posted an intervention from his perch at Telegraph blogs. Hannan, whose uneasy relationship with reality has been examined previously on Zelo Street, gets off to a bad start when he infers that the UK Government is doing something that it is not, in fact, doing.

"Either you support the state's right to specify dress codes or you don't" he tells readers, while failing to grasp that the state is not proposing to specify dress codes. All that is happening is that the Government is declining to support the cases of Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin, for the reasons I set out above.

But at least Dan makes a refreshing and candid admission in conclusion: "This is a neat example of why I'll never get on in politics". It certainly is, but not for the reason he thinks]

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