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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: An instrument of torture is symbol of God's love

By Herald Express  |  Posted: September 20, 2012

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IN the 1980s there used to be a very popular poster with the words saying 'If you were accused of being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?', writes Charlene Thornberry of Palace Avenue Methodist Church in Paignton.

I thought this was rather clever and made me think about how firm my faith was.

However, we have moved on from that era and now we are dealing with a very different society where this question would be seen as a bit patronising or even tinged with a bit of hellfire and brimstone. Heaven forbid!

Recently, we have read and heard about two individuals who have had to leave their place of employment due to their refusal to cover up their emblem of faith — the cross.

The row over the cross has left our own Prime Minister with a dilemma.

He wants to appear sympathetic to Christianity. However, the British lawyers briefed by the coalition have told the EU Court of Human Rights that Christians in Britain should not expect to be allowed to wear a cross at work or with a uniform.

Courts have now ruled against Miss Eweida, a BA steward, and a Miss Chaplin, a nurse.

If it means no crosses in the workplace today, we need to ask what will it be in five years' time?

Restricted hours of worship, restricted building of churches — who knows but we, as Christians, need to be aware that we are entering challenging times as far as our faith is concerned.

Personally, I am not a fan of jewellery but it has prompted me to think about buying a cross which I will wear with pride as a Christian.

Many will say you do not need to wear symbols to indicate your faith, that it is more how you behave but now, more than ever, we need to cling onto this symbol of Christ resurrected.

And what of other faiths — I sincerely believe that their emblems and signs should also be protected.

Religious beliefs are personal but they are also driven by community.

In the human being there is an inherent need to belong and by the wearing of faith symbols we can identify with others.

Today, crosses are very much a popular form of jewellery but what does it mean to us?

A few months ago Steve a member of our congregation commented that it was so significant that the cross of Roman times, an instrument of torture, became with Christ's death, a symbol of His love.

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  • JoeFogey  |  September 20 2012, 11:39PM

    realityzone, British courts have already ruled on this, on a number of occasions. Sadly Ms Eweida and her American-funded backers don't accept the findings of those courts. The rule against jewellery at BA was applied to all staff, and all except Ms Eweida accepted it. She also insisted she should not be required to work on Xmas Day - BA operate a ballot system to choose who works on Xmas day, but employees who are selected can swap with others. Ms Eweida didn't want to comply with the same rules that applied to everyone else in that case too.

  • realityzone  |  September 20 2012, 7:52PM

    I'm getting rather tired of these kind of issues being decided by foreign courts. We should be able to determine these issues in our own country for our own country. And as for people getting up tight about these Christians "wanting special treatment" why not? we gave very special treatment to Sikhs, who alone, are exempt from road safety laws which make everyone else wear a crash helmet. This lady is right, it is not a "level playing field" where religious tolerance is concerned. What would happen for instance if you tried to employ a Muslim lady and had to explain to her that your uniform policy excluded her face being wrapped in black material. You may not be an enthusiast for Christianity but at least insist on fair play.

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  • Bod66  |  September 20 2012, 7:06PM

    At the end of the day I dont go to work wearing a great big `Fulham FC Greatest` badge, so why do I wanna stare at your religion?. Spose? ish the French got it right, remove all religious parafe, parife, paraph.....stuff. Doesnt the good book say about those who pray quietly an humble. Everyday people are leaving the Church and going back to God....

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  • JoeFogey  |  September 20 2012, 6:49PM

    Ms Eweida wore a cross, and by doing so broke a BA policy against staff wearing jewellery. She was asked to cover it up, and was placed on unpaid leave when she refused either to do so or to accept a position where she did not have to cover it up. She lost an industrial tribunal case, and when BA offered to change the rules to allow her to wear a cross on her lapel, she refused and continued to various appeals, which she lost. So there is no question of her not being allowed to wear a cross publicly while working - British Airways were prepared to change their policy to accommodate her, but she was not prepared to compromise. Wearing a cross in public is not obligatory for Christians. My parents were both practising Methodists, my father a local preacher, and neither felt it necessary to wear crosses. It is a religious obligation for Sikh men to wear turbans (which are, of course, not jewellery, so would not be covered by the BA ban. Ms Eweida seems very determined to paint herself as a martyr - but she has put herself in that position by not accepting a reasonable compromise. I therefore have no sympathy at all for her whining.

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  • Nick_P2010  |  September 20 2012, 5:09PM

    No, these rulings don't mean there are 'no crosses in the workplace'. They mean that being a Christian does not let someone flout the same rules and regulations the rest of us have to follow. It's shameful that Christians like Charlene are so willing to twist the truth to push their own agenda. Is that what Jesus would do? The' trusted source' logo at the top of this article is clearly a joke.

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  • ineedtherapy  |  September 20 2012, 12:03PM

    He wants to appear sympathetic to Christianity. However, the British lawyers briefed by the coalition have told the EU Court of Human Rights that Christians in Britain should not expect to be allowed to wear a cross at work or with a uniform..... It's the "with a uniform" part of this that interests me.... Can we now expect similar action where , say, the turban is not part of the uniform ? I suspect the answer to that question will be no. I'm not going to go banking on about persecution but I am starting to beleive that there is a distinct lack of what could be considered to be equal treatment in this.

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  • nicold  |  September 20 2012, 11:16AM

    yadda yadda yadda.....

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  • DocTorre  |  September 20 2012, 11:04AM

    "If it means no crosses in the workplace today, we need to ask what will it be in five years' time? Restricted hours of worship, restricted building of churches." Just to make this clear, there is no ban on people wearing religious symbols at work, but there is a right for employers to ask their staff to comply with uniform policies or health and safety regulations. The alternative is to allow religious symbols to be worn in any circumstances, whether they pose a health and safety risk in the workplace or not. There are millions of people wearing crosses in the workplace. But if employees have a job where a dangling piece of jewelry might pose a risk to their or other people's health (such as in an operating theatre) they are expected to take it off... even if it has a cross attached to it. We are now seeing repeated challenges to the equality law from religious activists playing to a myth of persecution. There is likely to be more of this as the numbers of Christians in Torbay continues to decline. Meanwhile, other faiths in the Bay are increasing as are those with no religious beliefs. Indeed, there is evidence that around half of local people are now without any type of religion. In the future our three towns will probably experience more such myth-making as religions compete for members and privileges...

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  • DocTorre  |  September 20 2012, 10:57AM

    "If it means no crosses in the workplace today, we need to ask what will it be in five years' time? Restricted hours of worship, restricted building of churches." Just to make this clear, there is no ban on people wearing religious symbols at work, but there is a right for employers to ask their staff to comply with uniform policies or health and safety regulations. The alternative is to allow religious symbols to be worn in any circumstances, whether they pose a health and safety risk in the workplace or not. There are millions of people wearing crosses in the workplace. But if employees have a job where a dangling piece of jewelry might pose a risk to their or other people's health (such as in an operating theatre) they are expected to take it off... even if it has a cross attached to it. We are now seeing repeated challenges to the equality law from religious activists playing to a myth of persecution. There is likely to be more of this as the numbers of Christians in Torbay continues to decline. Meanwhile, other faiths in the Bay are increasing, as are those with no religious beliefs. Indeed, there is evidence that around half of local people are now without any type of religion. In the future our three towns will probably experience more such religious myth-making as a means of competition for members and privileges...

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