Crossing the line
So after the hiatus that was last week, we….I need to get back to some sense of normality. All this excitement isn’t good for the old blood pressure and as my consultant kindly pointed out, it will get me one day, the question is just how long. If she wasn’t such a “Hot Doc”, I might have been upset… so to calm me down and reduce the excitement levels, I thought I’d talk about religion.
Specifically I want to talk about the case of Shirley Chaplin. Chaplin is a nurse at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust. She is also a Christian. And as in many of the Christian faith, she choses to wear a crucifix around her neck. The problem came when the Trust issues new guidance indicating that necklaces (per se) were a health and safety risk when working with elderly patients who were often confused and sometimes grabbed out in panic or distress. Chaplin argued that the ban prevented her expressing her religious beliefs and refused to remove the crucifix. When she was then moved into an administrative function, she made a claim for discrimination on the grounds of religious belief.
I am not religious, as you might have worked out by now (either that or I have a SERIOUSLY long confession to make) but I can only think that cases like don’t do a whole heap to help those that are. Chaplin described the ruling as a “poor day” for Christians and said that, “the law doesn’t appear to be on the side of Christians”. Some of the press coverage has been frankly hysterical and scant on facts, namely:
– All necklaces were banned, not just crucifixes
– Chaplin was advised that she could wear a crucifix, but not around her neck. She was even told that they would consider her wearing it on a shorter chain
– As part of the same uniform code, Sikhs were required to remove any bangles whilst working and Muslims were asked to wear tighter sport-like hijab
For once a Tribunal came to a reasonable conclusion, finding that any damage was “slight” and that, “the evidence we have is that there is no mandatory requirement of the Christian faith that a Christian should wear a crucifix”. Yep that will be the one. Persecuting anyone on the grounds of the religious beliefs (or lack of beliefs) is wrong. But trying to create a crusade based on stubbornness and misplaced convictions is worse.