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Britons Told to Wear Cross Proudly

Published: 08/04/2012 08:19:04 PM GMT
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LONDON — Criticizing the growing m0arginalization of religion in the society, Britain's most senior Roman Catholic leader is calling on Christians to wear the cross in a “proud” show of Christianity. I know that many of yo (more)

LONDON — Criticizing the growing m0arginalization of religion in the society, Britain's most senior Roman Catholic leader is calling on Christians to wear the cross in a “proud” show of Christianity.

"I know that many of you do wear such a cross of Christ, not in any ostentatious way, not in a way that might harm you at your work or recreation,” Cardinal Keith O'Brien will tell worshippers during the Easter Mass on Sunday, April 8, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“But a simple indication that you value the role of Jesus Christ in the history of the world," he will say in a service in the Scottish capital Edinburgh.

O'Brien will tell worshippers to "wear proudly a symbol of the cross of Christ on their garments each and every day of their lives".

"I hope that increasing numbers of Christians adopt the practice of wearing a cross in a simple and discreet way as a symbol of their beliefs."

The leader of the Church in Scotland comments come amid a controversy over banning employees from wearing crosses.

Two British women went to the European Court of Human Rights on claims of discrimination over wearing crosses.

British Airways employee Nadia Eweida was suspended by the airline for wearing the cross on claims of breaching its uniform code in 2006.

Shirley Chaplin was barred from working on the wards on a hospital in Exeter, southwest England, after refusing to hide a cross she wore on a necklace chain.

Both women lost their discrimination cases in 2010.

An appeal court judgment upheld the Employment Appeal Tribunal's finding that banning Eweida from wearing a cross was not discriminatory because Christians "generally" do not consider wearing a cross as a requirement of their religion.

Andrea Williams, the director of the Christian Legal Centre which represents Chaplin, said it was "time for Christians everywhere to mark their allegiance to the cross".

"I very much hope that in Europe there will be vindication for Shirley Chaplin," she said, adding that she hoped "some sort of common sense will prevail".

Religion Marginalization

In his Easter sermon in Edinburgh, Cardinal O'Brien will warn of increasing marginalization of religion in the British society.

"Just 18 months ago, Pope Benedict XVI stood in Westminster Hall in London addressing a vast audience of politicians, diplomats, academics and business leaders,” he will say.

"There he clearly stated that 'religion is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation'.

"In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters."

The British government says law "strikes the right balance" between employees' rights to express their beliefs at work and the requirements of employers.

The law, and its application in the workplace, centers on article nine of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The legislation backs an individual's freedom to act in accordance with religious beliefs but also recognizes limitations "in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others".

A Home Office spokesman denied any marginalization of religion, insisting that the British law allows religious freedom.

"People should be able to wear crosses. The law allows for this, and employers are generally very good at being reasonable in accommodating people's religious beliefs," he told BBC.

However, a recent research by Ipsos Mori suggested Britons who declare themselves Christian display low levels of belief and practice.

Almost three quarters of the 1,136 people polled agreed that religion should not influence public policy, and 92% agreed the law should apply to everyone equally, regardless of their personal beliefs.The survey was conducted for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (UK), which describes itself as promoting “scientific education, rationalism and humanism”.

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