By Andy Butcher
Christians in Britain have no automatic right to wear crosses if their employer chooses to ban such public symbols of their faith, according to the country’s Conservative-led government.
The government position, to be argued in the European Court of Human Rights, has provoked concern among church leaders, such as Archbishop John Sentamu, in the home of the worldwide Anglican Church, reports CNSNews.com.
Wearing a visible cross or crucifix is not protected under the European Convention of Human Rights ? which upholds the right to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” ? because it is not a requirement of Christianity, the government contends in a document leaked to Britain’s Sunday Telegraph, CNSNews reported.
The government view is to be presented soon in the latest round of hearings in long-running legal battles of Christians Nadia Eweida, a British Airways worker, and Shirley Chaplin, a hospital nurse. In separate cases, each woman was told she could not work while wearing a small visible cross.
Among those questioning the government’s involvement is Sentamu, the archbishop of York and the second-highest figure in the Anglican Church. Officials are “beginning to meddle in areas that they ought not to,” he told the BBC Sunday. “I think they should leave that to the courts to make a judgment.”
Donald Allister, the bishop of Peterborough, agreed that wearing a cross is not a “compulsory” part of being a Christian. “But it is a duty of a Christian to be public about their faith as well as private, and that is clear New Testament teaching,” he told the Telegraph last month.
In her earlier court hearings, Eweida pointed out that co-workers of other faiths, including Muslims and Sikhs, had been allowed to wear religious items such as hijabs, turbans, and religious bracelets, says CNSNews.com.
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