Wear The Cross If You Dare

Deborah Hobson

It seems that the Christian faith is being used as a pawn in the political machinations of those seeking to appease sections of the Muslim community in the UK who are disaffected and enraged by controversial Government foreign policy and unpopular military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

At the same time as debate intensifies among senior politicians and religious leaders about the veil (niqab) worn by Muslim women (see The-Latest story Islamaphobia Rears Its Ugly Head), the BBC is accused of pursuing a surreptitious policy of banning their staff from wearing the crucifix, a hallowed symbol of Christianity worldwide. Fiona Bruce, the corporation's glamorous, high-profile newsreader, has apparently bowed to pressure from news executives and stopped sporting her necklace with a cross amid fears expressed by BBC governors that it could cause offence by suggesting a religious affiliation.

British Airways has been heavily criticised recently in the wake of its decision to prohibit the wearing of a cross by a Christian employee. Heathrow check-in worker Nadia Eweida claims she was effectively  'forced' to take unpaid leave after she refused to remove or conceal the image. Miss Eweida, 55, who has worked for BA for seven years, intends to sue her employer for religious discrimination.

The Church of England, in its report, Cohesion and Integration-A Briefing Note for the House' (of Bishops), has accused the Government of deliberately favouring Muslims in a drive to encourage inter-faith relations. It suggests that the Church of England is being  'sidelined' by Government attempts to integrate Muslims since the London bombings in July 2005. The report was written by Guy Wilkinson, inter-faith adviser to Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Is Christianity in the UK being eroded when its followers are prevented from free expression of their faith, exemplified by the wearing of the cross? Or should Christians be willing to suppress expression of their beliefs in order to avoid upsetting the sensibilities of other faith communities? The-Latest would like to know your views.