Christians are rolling out their old argument again: the government in the UK is being beastly to them.
A bunch of Church of England bishops and other befrocked men whose real contribution to society is questionable have written a letter to the Sunday Telegraph, and cite, among others, the case of a nurse who was not allowed to wear a crucifix at work. This was probably for health-and-safety reasons, but Christians always see it otherwise.
Traditional Christian beliefs are being sidelined, say these frothing idlers, who have nothing better to do than compose letters to national newspapers. It shows what a sinecure their jobs really are. You get to swish around in robes or wear a purple dicky and look busy and important and go to meetings, many of them with government agencies and departments, with local government representatives, with MPs, with councillors. Twenty-six of these unproductive individuals sit in the House of Lords as of right.
Oh, I see, that sort of sidelining.
We have countless religious schools – they like to call them “faith” schools – and prayers are said before Parliament proceeds with its daily business. There are those 26 bishops in the Lords. Christian ceremonies are held to mark national occasions.
Yes, I see it now: that sort of sidelining.
“The church leaders said it was unacceptable in a civilised society to dismiss Christians from their jobs over matters of conscience,” says the BBC story I’ve linked to above. Isn’t it unacceptable in a civilised society to allow “conscience” born of beliefs in sky fairies to dictate life for others, when it’s your job to provide a particular service or goods? You can have all the conscience you like, but don’t expect your conscience and the job you’re paid to do to sit happily side by side, because they won’t. Leave the job.
As for the nurse, Shirley Chaplin, they have a point in one respect at least: “They accuse nurse Shirley Chaplin’s employers of treating her beliefs with disrespect, while happily allowing symbols of other religions to be worn.”
If that’s the case, of course, then it’s wrong to discriminate – and it won’t surprise PT readers that authorities in Britain have discriminated in favour of whingeing Muslims, for instance, for the sake of something called a multicultural society (and for political correctness, of course, and for votes). If you’re going to ban religious trumpery, you must ban it for all – or allow it for all. Personally, I have no huge objection to the latter (on the simple grounds that any piece of adornment is potentially going to have some significance beyond its mere appearance) unless it has downsides. And it does.
A Muslim woman can’t be allowed to wear a bin bag while working in a hospital, for instance, or when she’s having her photo taken for ID purposes.
A Sikh man can’t be allowed to carry a knife – the so-called kirpan – around the place, where it can be used to violent ends (if not by him, then by anyone who decides to steal his dagger).
A Christian nurse can’t be allowed to wear a dangly piece of jewellery if it might drop into somebody’s open intestine during an operation (or, more likely, be grabbed in desperation by a struggling patient, causing potential harm to the nurse).
If a Sikh student is to be allowed to wear a bangle in a school that has a no-jewellery policy, then all students at the school should be allowed to.
But, of course, when such objections are put forward, the first thing the religionist bleats about is discrimination.