What is the difference?

Christian refuses to remove crucifix (at work): http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/devon/8265321.stm

Jedi refuses to remove hood (in Tesco): http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/18/jedi-religion-tesco-hood-jones

Are the issues the same?


Emily Ryall says:

I've often deliberately left my motorcycle helmet on at petrol stations (which post a notice saying they must be removed) armed with the argument that it is no different to wearing religious headgear. So, far I haven't been challenged but I'm relishing the time that I am.

casals says:

The Jedi was simply shopping; the nurse is an employee and representative of the hospital.

David W... says:

Good point casals – does that mean you side with the Jedi (assuming they not on dark side of The Force) – but not the Christian?

Anonymous says:

It would help if we were told something of the rationale behind the various prohibitions.

David W... says:

As I recall – Tesco is against hoods for security (CCTV / anti-theft / video evidence / etc); whereas the Nurse worked in a setting with a 'no necklace' rule…

David W... says:

The Daily Telegraph has a blog accusing the hospital of 'Atheist Bigotry' at http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/edwest/100010579/atheist-bigotry-hiding-behind-health-and-safety-how-typically-british/
If you read the comments there, below the piece, you'll learn plenty about bigotry…

David W... says:

And if you read the Daily Mail, comments tend to be of the sort I quote here: “This government backed anti-Christian crusade has got to stop!”


Is this true? Are the Telegraph and Mail correct in claiming that a socialist mega-state is out to bring an end to all Christian values, while promoting other religions?

Dee says:

I think Dave's question – “Are the Telegraph and Mail correct in claiming that a socialist mega-state is out to bring an end to all Christian values, while promoting other religions?” – is a big one that would need an essay in order not just to give a sort of knee-jerk 'Yes' or 'No' response. So, I'll side-step that one!
While casals notes the difference between the two, I think s/he might be doing so for the wrong reasons. The nurse is someone with 30 years experience as a health care professional and should be a valued employee; the hospital trust has a duty of care/responsibility toward her in recognition of the service she provides the community. This seems to be lacking.

It might be observed that the Hospital Trust is, at the least, guilty of hypocrisy for singling out the nurse in this way. As she points out:
“Necklaces are worn by other members of staff and the trust has promoted the hospital with photographs of staff wearing necklaces.”
And this is not denied: “Responding to the 54-year-old's claim, the trust said in a statement: “We accept lapses on uniform policy may occur among our 6,000 hospital staff and line managers are expected to address it with the individual employee.”
Hospital Trusts, funded by the people for the good of the people, should concern themselves with the quality of work performed by their employees rather than impose petty rules. The wearing of a small religious symbol, such as a Cross or a Star of David, does not inhibit a nurse's work. For those who choose to wear these, such symbols can inspire their work,as attested to in this case.
This isn't a 'rights' issue. That's another essay topic….!

Anonymous says:

The Christian Legal Centre is actively seeking out Christians who flout health and safety rules or other employment rules on the grounds of religion.

They then threaten legal action and promote the view that Christians are being actively targeted for discrimination by the government. The Christian values they defend include refusing to work with people who are not heterosexual, and Islamophobic rhetoric.

The difference between these cases that strikes me as the most important is that there is no wealthy and powerful Jedi Legal Centre that threatens to drag companies like Tesco into long drawn out legal battles for the sake of wearing a hood.

Anonymous says:

You cannot justify the flouting of employment contracts or health and safety requirements by saying 'look other people are flouting the rules too' at best you should conclude that they should also be prohibited from wearing jewellery and necklaces on the same grounds.

Typical Christian Legal Centre rhetoric to say this sort of thing.

Anonymous says:

Clever pairing. Brought to mind the famous comment of Marx:
“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

Dee says:

Anonymous (why anonymous?) – I didn't attempt to 'justify' it as you suggest. You make a category mistake. You misquote me and clearly, you miss the point. This particular person has been singled out, and given that the health trust has conceded that others do it, then they are being, at the very least, inconsistent in the way they apply their rules. If they wish to have this rule, then they must apply it universally, and indeed you mention this too, so we're in agreement there! As for whether my post is, as you put it, “Typical Christian Legal Centre rhetoric to say this sort of thing”, frankly, I wouldn't know as I don't read their material. I suspect you don't either and really, this kind of dismissive generalisation isn't worthy of a response, except to wonder why you jump to such a conclusion. To suggest this is a health and safety matter is just silly. By the same logic – i.e., a patient may grab items worn by nurses – the wearing of spectacles would need also to be banned.
I'm not trying to justify anything here. I think the issue is a bit of nonsense really. Shalom.

Dee says:

p.s. Hi again. If the Christian Legal Centre's 'values' “include refusing to work with people who are not heterosexual, and Islamophobic rhetoric,” then their values are, actually, not Christian, and the Centre should be exposed as made up of imposters! Claiming to be 'Christian' and holding such values is incoherent, but there's a lot of it about…..

Shelley says:

The 'anonymous' who quoted Marx on Hegel upends another piece of rhetoric which goes something like this: “You say such and such which implies such and such (usually something ridiculous)”, in other words socratic sophistry. In a way, Dave, pairing the two examples is similar, i.e. “if this, then that”, “if a, then b”, philosophical algebra. Please note that the “thats” and the “bs” can be wildly fanciful and fantastical where philosophers are duly criticised for being armchair enthusiasts (anglo-american analytics). As for the stories, they are similar in that both are represented by a belief structure which is accessorised with paraphenalia and ornament. No matter how inclusive one's tribe is (or pretends to be) to outsiders, there is still singularisation and separation, us and them-ness, symbolised by costume. When its exclusivity is pointed out or criticised sometimes what arises is scorn, indignation and defensiveness, chips on shoulders; and, human rights issues, like freedom of speech and behaviour, begin to be batted about. As soon as “human rights” enters the arena, an emotional arsenal has been lit and there is suddenly justification for the most ridiculous, violent and in-humane behaviour by defending demi-god-like rights, i.e. from bombing abortion clinics to the Holocaust. I feel similarly with people who claim religious prejudice on issues such as religious adornment. What is wrong with “wear the crucifix; pin it back” (if dangling is impermissible)? Both camps are equally haughty, have backed themselves into a corner and are looking for a fight. I wonder whether had the necklace been a heart instead of a crucifix if the issue would have bloated to this enormity. Somehow the issue springs from dangling jewellry, to Christian symbolism, to atheist bigotry, pitched from naught to emotional fervour in a nano-second. The corrosive argument levelled at the hospital for atheistic bigotry is that same-old missing middle argument, “if you're not a such and such (i.e. capitalist) you must be a such and such (i.e. communist)”. Sometimes I think about Jeremy Bentham's visionary design on natural rights as “nonsense on stilts”.

I know I am in danger of arguing from a “slippery slope”, but I will leave it at that nonetheless.

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