Thursday, April 8, 2010

So, are Christians discriminated against in Britain?

One of the things I took exception to in the wider blog discussions of nurse Shirley Chaplin and her cross (see previous post) was her claim of religious discrimination. On a number of other sites, as well as in some branches of the tabloid press here, Mrs. Chaplin's situation was compared to Muslim health staff. It became clear to me that Mrs. Chaplin's situation, a Health and Safety issue at heart, was being subverted by those with another agenda: this became "another example" of how Christians in Britain were being disadvantaged while other ethnic groups - allegedly out of fear of upsetting them - could do as they please. The message contained the usual gloss of the Right Wing, based on half-truths and disinformation as ever.

The photo above was featured on an American blog. I could find it again by doing a google image search. The message was clear: in Britain you can't wear a cross but you can wear a burqa and all sorts of conclusions were drawn about the embattled nature of Christianity and the islamisation of Europe - a common theme on many American right wing blogs.

I traced the photo to a discussion board on a nursing website,, where it had been posted in response to a question by a Muslim theatre techinician about what she might wear in her duties.

Hi, I'm a Muslim and I am considering becoming a surgical tech. I wear hijab and I was wondering if there's any Muslims here who are surgical techs who I can ask some questions about how you wear hijab in the OR. And if anyone else knows how a muslim scrub nurse wears hijab or has any suggestions I would greatly appreciate it. Beyond that I don't know its provenance. Does anyone have any ideas?

The outcome of the Mrs. Chaplin's case was "a sad day for Christianity" and Christians "should be frightened to go into the workplace." Several Anglican Bishops have expressed concern that Christianity is being marginalised in Britian - not exactly discrimination but, presumably not far off.

Are they right?


TEXT OF BISHOP'S LETTER HERE Note the factual innacuracy about Mrs. Chaplin being told to remove her crucifix.