The British Humanist Association (BHA) has reacted to commentary on an employment tribunal judgment which found that a nurse who was asked to remove a necklace with a crucifix on it was not illegally discriminated against. The judgment endorsed the hospital’s position that Shirley Chaplin was asked to remove the necklace because of the risk of elderly and confused patients grabbing the necklace, in line with the hospital’s health and safety policy. Ms Chaplin refused the choice of wearing the crucifix in another way, such as pinning it to her uniform.
The BHA has expressed its regret that such cases as this are increasingly being used for propaganda purposes by groups seeking to create the impression that Christians are being ‘persecuted’.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said, ‘This is the latest in a line of employment tribunals where discrimination against Christians has been claimed but revealed as unfounded. Many observers share our concern about the false and misleading narrative that increasing numbers of churches and aggressive Christian lobby groups are attempting to create when they react to or actively promote cases like this. The story they are telling has it that Christians are being marginalised from public life and persecuted at work, when in fact churches retain enormous privileges and there is no evidence at all that employment discrimination against Christians is a real phenomenon. Freedom of religion or belief is a precious freedom, but its interests are not best served by attempting to talk up claims of persecution and discrimination.’
For further comment or information, contact Andrew Copson on 020 7079 3583 or 07534 248596.
The British Humanist Association represents and supports the non-religious. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.