Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wearing the Cross

It seems to me that many Christians are only satisfied if they can portray themselves as being persecuted. This is evident particularly in American Evangelical thinking and has inspired the Christian Right to crusade against Liberalism, Humanism, Feminism, Academia, Hollywood, the Judiciary and much more.

Of course there is a strong biblical mandate for rejoicing in persecution, e.g. Matt. 5:11 (NIV):
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me
Today, however, Christians in many parts of world seek a status of persecuted, rather than actually being mistreated by individuals, groups or society.

In Britain this desire for persecution has been taken up by an employee of British Airways and the Anglican Bishop of York. The British Airways employee, Ms Eweida, is not allowed to wear her cross necklace visibly during work. Ms Eweida claims this is discrimination, as Muslims, Sheikhs and others are allowed to wear different religious pieces of clothing visibly. In her complaint she is now being supported by Bishop John Sentamu, who calls British Airway's policy "nonsense". For more see this BBC article.

Ms Eweida does not, in my opinion, have much of a legal case because she does not claim that the wearing of her cross is mandated her religion, either in public or private. Ms Eweida's right to free exercise of her religion (see Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights) is therefore not being impeded.

Besides the legal point I find it sad that Christians want to enforce a supposed right to something so un-essential to Christianity. Christianity, at least in my opinion, does not required the wearing of certain items of clothes or jewelry and the true exercise of the Christian faith have nothing to due with outward symbols or rituals. Rather it has to do with a changed heart. Mr. John Sentamu and Ms Eweida wants to reduce Christianity to want it is not, an outward religion.


At 24 November, 2006 11:42, Blogger karlund said...

On the one hand I agree with you!
But I really don't like the trend of businesses dictating what you can wear and what you can not!

I do understand that in certain businesses branding is important and that there is a need to dictate clothing style, but down to the detail of whether you can wear a cross or not seams to me like over-kill.

At 25 November, 2006 17:13, Blogger Torsten Pedersen said...

Good point. Dress code regulations show, in my opinion, the petty mindedness of many businesses, as well highlighting society's obsession with external appearances.

The question, as I see it, is how much should the state interfere (by enforcing human rights) with the freedom of contractual relationships, such as an employers freedom to contract with employees?

In this case I cannot see Ms Eweida right to "manifest her religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance" (Article 9) is impeded by her relationship with her employer.

If, however, she could show that she cannot practice her religion without wearing a cross visibly, then she would have a case. Otherwise the Human Rights law will not interfere with her or BA's right to negotiate the terms of their contract.


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