The offense of the cross

Oct 10, 2021 by

by Roger Kiska, The Critic:

When the cross is abolished, and the rage of tyrants and heretics ceases on the one side, and all things are in peace, this is a sure token that the pure doctrine of God’s Word is taken away Martin Luther

Mary Onouoha, like Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin before her, has been ordered to remove her cross at work as part of her employer’s uniform policy. Long lost is David Cameron’s promise to change the law to ensure the cross can be worn at work. Too quickly forgotten is the European Court of Human Rights ruling condemning the United Kingdom for censoring the cross, its first ever finding against the United Kingdom for violating freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Mary has been employed by the Croydon University Hospital since 2001 as a theatre nurse. Throughout her employment, as a means of manifesting her Christian faith, she has worn a small cross around her neck. Mary wore her necklace for nearly fifteen years without issue. Then in 2014 and 2015, despite the hospital’s uniform code making allowances for the wearing of saris, turbans, kirpan, skullcaps, hijabs and kippahs as part of its policy “welcoming diversity”, Mary was told on several occasions that she had to hide her cross under her uniform or remove it completely. In August 2018, it was insinuated to Mary that failure to do so would result in disciplinary proceedings being brought against her. Degrading and humiliating demands were then made of Mary in an attempt to cover up the cross, despite other members of the same medical team openly wearing necklaces without consequences. Since then, Mary has been redeployed to assist a receptionist outside of the clinical areas in a non-nursing capacity in breach of her nursing contract.

One of the common misunderstandings about religious freedom in the United Kingdom is that it is not sufficiently protected by our laws. The truth is that our right to manifest our Christian faith is, or at least should be, robustly protected under the Human Rights Act 1998. The problem is more complicated than what the law says. It is a structural problem within our culture, including among institutions like the NHS and our judicial system, that simply do not grasp the importance of the cross to Christians.

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