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07 September 2012


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Paul Lavender

Thank you David, for a helpful reflection. I also fear the following: -

1. The wearing of religious symbols could not, and should define our witness to our faith. There is a danger that arguments about wearing what for some people is little more that Jewellery mask a more urgent need for the encouragement of effective Christian witness in our places of work. We do ourselves, and our efforts to promote whole life discipleship, no favours, if we appear to say "the wearing of a lapel cross or fish is what marks me out as a christian disciple", and not the content of our character and our industriousness.

2. When we (in particular, the Christian Institute) spend as much time campaigning and visiting courtrooms on behalf of all members of society who are discriminated against (disability rights, anyone? Disability living allowance?!!) I will listen a little more closely, and worry a little less about what can appear either as self-interest, or fiddling while our churches close....

But as ever, you have made me pray about these topics, David. Shalom, my friend!

David Kerrigan

Hi Paul - agreed: lapel badges, bumper stickers and the like should not be our defining mark. However, for Christians in some traditions, eg Catholics, these things are more important than for most Baptists.

And the underlying issues are the ones that concerns me - why were these symbols deemed so offensive as to suspend someone? That just seems unjust.

And, in the latter two cases, was any form of accommodation possible? Interestingly Joshua Rozenberg, the legal journalist, seems to think that the unwillingness to reach an accommodation in some of these cases where there was no harm done to the other party is a line the ECHR might take. Worth reading - http://hmtennapel.weblog.leidenuniv.nl/

Ruth Ivimey-Cook

Hi David, I am glad you are speaking up about these events. One of the aspects of the "cross" issue was of course the difference in treatment between the faiths. Personally I would like to see the power of companies curtailed in regards to personal issues such as these, except where there is a clear need.

For example, requiring builders to wear good boots onsite seems reasonable. Requiring surgeons not to wear a tie seems reasonable (spread of disease has been scientifically linked). Requiring a stewardess not to wear jewellery: where's that come from?


David Kerrigan

Ruth, I'm hopeful that the rulings will clarify some of these issues. I'm not looking for some pro-Christian knockout punch - I think a lot of Christians need to learn to live in the new world that is less sympathetic to Christianity than once it was. But the reaction by employers an some courts has been 'over amplified' so perhaps some sanity and common sense will be brought to bear. We'll see - the outcomes will take a few months I think.

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