Search This Blog

Monday, 21 September 2009

Cross words over religious gewgaws

A Christian nurse who wears her religion not on her sleeve but around her neck has been meeting bosses today to discover whether she’ll be forced out of her job for doing so.

It’s another of those cases that see people wanting to wear some gewgaw but it’s against the dress code of where they work or go to school.

Now let me put my cards on the table. I have nothing against bits of jewellery, and, if they represent something that means something to the wearer, so be it. I don’t like organised religion, but I’m not going to kick up a stink if someone wishes to wear a piece of jewellery that just happens to reflect that belief.

When it gets in the way of, say, health and safety (perhaps a hospital patient might, in a moment of panic, grab the neck chain and injure the nurse wearing it, for instance) it’s a different matter.

But Christians and others who are told to take off whatever is likely to cause a problem always reach for the freedom-of-religion argument. You can’t tell me to do that: you’re discriminating against me on religious grounds.

Bollocks! We live in such a politically correct country here in the UK that it’s doubtful a boss would tell someone to take something off just because it’s religious.

However, in the case of Shirley Chaplin, the woman whose story we’re featuring here (the Telegraph link, again, is here), she claims other members of staff have been allowed to wear necklaces.

If that is true, and they’re doing the same job as she is, then it’s wrong. If they’re doing a different job, then maybe different rules apply.

As with so many of these stories, we learn only through selective journalism, and the truth of the matter will come out only in a court or hearing, where witnesses can be examined by experienced questioners. But, again, we’re at the mercy of journos when these tribunals are reported.

There’s one telling quote in the Telegraph story that ought to be exercising secularists, though: a spokesman for the health trust concerned “said Mrs Chaplin herself had also admitted [that] wearing a cross was not a requirement of her faith”.

This suggests that the trust would allow the wearing of just about anything if it were “a requirement of her faith”. Does that mean that, if the cross were such a requirement, that would trump health and safety?

In stories such as this, we’re often told, “Oh, but they let Muslims wear scarves.” Unfortunately, that often seems to be the case, because we’re just so damned scared of offending Muzzies’ sensibilities and risking being called racist, when, of course, Islam is not a race.

The rules should be simple: you dress according to the code appropriate to your working environment, with no exceptions; and, if your “faith” dictates you should cover your hair or your arms for hygiene reasons, you cover up or clear out.

As for a dress code that doesn’t affect health and safety, such as the post linked to above (the link, again, is here), which concerned a Sikh girl who wanted to wear a bangle at school, well that’s something for another argument. You may or may not agree with school uniforms, or petty restrictions on what jewellery kids should wear.

But, if there is a dress code, then it should be for all pupils, with no exceptions for those of a deluded frame of mind.

No comments: