14 May 2007

Crucifix Ban Controversy Renewed

'Jesus' chastity ringOnce again, the issue of religious double standards has bubbled to the surface following inflammatory headlines in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph ("School ban for crosses but not Muslim lockets") and today's Daily Express ("Outrage Over New Ban On The Cross") reporting on draft guidance issued by Croydon Council to help teachers deal with issues relating to different faiths and beliefs.

The draft guidelines included a section on jewellery stating that, while schools should operate a no jewellery policy, teachers should be sensitive to the needs of children from faiths in which religious symbols cannot or should not be removed, listing as examples the Hindu rahki bracelet and the Sikh Kara bracelet.

At first glance this appears to be a repeat of last year's row after British Airways suspended check-in worker Nadia Eweida for wearing a cross necklace, despite allowing employees from other faiths to wear hijabs and turbans—a dispute that lasted three months and ended up with the airline changing its policy to allow religious symbols on a chain or lapel pin.

However, giving Croydon council the benefit of the doubt, the guidelines were in fact simply a draft and the document is still being developed in consultation with schools and will not be considered by the independent Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education until next month. Moreover, it claims the reports were inaccurate, maintaining that headteachers were not told to ban religious symbols, and has complained, "It is deeply disappointing that elements of the national media have chosen to present a provocative and mischievous slant on such a sensitive subject."

Yet, if they genuinely intended no slight against Christians, then they should have themselves been sensitive to the need to treat all religions equally, and not to presume that "headteachers know about Christian traditions"—particularly in light of the case of Lydia Playfoot, the teenager who is taking her school in Horsham to the High Court after it banned her for wearing a Christian chastity ring, even though it has no issue with Muslim and Sikh pupils wearing headscarves, shalwar trousers, and Kara bracelets as a cultural expression of their religion.

Quite clearly there are issues of religious inconsistency that need to be dealt with in the country, just as there is also a clear determination by secularists to undermine and deny Britain's Christian heritage (see Secularism and Islam Vs Society and Humanism Vs Religion). If these matters are not to become a perennial bone of contention, then we need soon a public discussion involving leaders from all walks of life and sensitivity on all sides, not least on the part of the media who are responsible for reporting on such controversies — and more often than not for inflaming people's passions over such religious disputes.


Anonymous said...

There is a lot of intolerance to Christianity simply because it is a Religion of Peace. I do think that it is high time that we took a more definite stance after all only Demons flee when they see the Cross. Intolerance to the Cross is a sign of Evil.
These are perilious times.

MikeC said...

I'm simply speechless (well, almost), at the continued direction of travel. Why is it possible that elected and non-elected officials feel it possible, and quite acceptable, to treat Christianity and its expression of worthy of no respect?

My tendency to optimism in most things hoped that political correctness would eventually peter out, as the madness of such pandering to the slightest flicker of public opinion became very obviously idiotic and counterproductive to a cohesive society.

Seems I was wrong to expect it this diminishing so early in the 21st Century.

The Stonemason said...

Fighting for our religious rights as christians is only one part of the action required; praying for the advancement of the gospel is the more important part. The gospel has not failed in this country for 1500 years; God who is faithful to a 1000 generations will not fail in this generation. I

Patriccus said...

Further infringement of civil liberties through the intolerance of others to permit the wearing of the Cross. But why is there such a constant determination to believe that special treatment is being given to other faiths? I've NEVER heard a Muslim, Jew or Hindu complain that my wearing the crucifix is somehow offensive - rather, they have only expressed sympathy and surprise that people are so gullible as to believe the hype of the secularist agenda. Many members of other faiths are likely to rally round in support of our right to respect for expressions of our faith - just because Christianity is first in the firing line, it doesn't mean (to use Martin Niemoller's famous poem) that afterwards, they will come for Jews, Muslims, etc. Our opponents are the militant secularists, not other faiths!

Anonymous said...

I've spoken to my Councillor about this and have told that's complete rubbish. The paper that initially published the story is now refusing to comment on it.

The story stems from a guide published by Croydon which described religious clothing and items teachers my come across.

They've banned nothing.

John, The Difference said...

Thanks for the confirmation, Anonymous. However, that merely underlines the fact that the council has worded its draft proposals insensitively and the media has reported the story irresponsibly.