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British Christians Must Find A Louder Voice
ICC Note
The Christians in UK are not facing the same way Christians are persecuted in places such as Nigeria or Egypt. There is, howeve, growing hatred against Christians in UK. We urge politicians in UK to ensure religious freedom of Christians in the country.
09/08/2012 UK (The Telegraph)-The Archbishop of Canterbury, as he prepares to leave Lambeth Palace, has sought to quell any claims that Christians in this country are suffering persecution. “We have been hearing quite a lot about the dangers of ‘aggressive secularism’,” he wrote in the introduction to his new book, “But our problem … is not simply loud voices attacking faith (and certainly not ‘persecution’, as some of the more highly coloured apologetic claims)”.
Well, “persecution” is a powerful word, and few would dispute that genuine persecution is happening to Christian minorities in other countries, a plight that Dr Williams has done much to publicise. It seems ludicrous to compare the appalling treatment of the Christian minority in Pakistan or Iraq to slights suffered by Christians in Britain, where Christianity remains the Establishment religion, albeit one with weakening links to the Establishment.
There is, however, something curious and faintly unpleasant happening in Britain: Christianity seems tacitly understood to be the one faith that can safely be ridiculed or denied expression in the workplace. The complexity of that situation has been highlighted by the four British Christians who last week took their cases to the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that they have been discriminated against at work because of their religion.
Let us take just one – that of Nadia Eweida, a former British Airways check-in employee, who was suspended for refusing either to tuck in or take off a small, pendant cross. Her case hangs on how you interpret the meaning of a cross on a neck-chain. BA argued that Eweida’s cross was not a “requirement of the faith” (although it subsequently amended its policy to permit some such symbol).
I tend to think religious faith is something that should be carried in the heart rather than worn on the head, arm or neck. Still, I see Miss Eweida’s difficulty. All around her, other BA employees were allowed to signify their religious affiliation by means of a Muslim headscarf, Sikh turban, or Jewish skullcap on the grounds that such clothing was mandatory in their religion and could not be concealed. Only Miss Eweida’s visible cross, however, apparently caused BA managers a problem.
Now, wearing the cross is clearly not “a requirement” of the Christian faith, but a manifestation of it. None the less, I have some trouble with the “requirement of the faith” argument, which implies that only religions that are publicly bossy enough with their followers about clothes will be granted freedom of expression at work. Yet there are Muslim scholars, for example, who argue very convincingly that the Koran does not require women to cover their heads, but merely to dress modestly, and many Muslim women who do not wear the hijab. The lines between requirement, manifestation and choice are often rather blurred.
If people want to wear a religious symbol that doesn’t interfere unduly with the appearance of a uniform or their ability to do their work properly, then I don’t see why they shouldn’t have the right to do so. Once it becomes a practical problem, then most of us would agree that the demands of that particular workplace should take precedence. That right should surely extend to Miss Eweida’s cross: either that, or ban religious symbols at work, an act that would cause mayhem.

But the fabric that knits Christian beliefs into British institutions is fraying and weakening, something that has a fracturing effect on the believers’ relationship with society. In some cases, the faith is being treated with the institutional contempt afforded a declining power.
It may be no coincidence that more vocal elements within British Anglicanism, such as Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, and John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, both suffered actual persecution in other countries before coming here. Miss Eweida was originally a Coptic Christian from Egypt, where the Christian minority is now in a deeply unenviable position.
Their message is one with which many British Anglicans – long wary of religious enthusiasm – will be mildly uncomfortable, but it was learnt in a hard school, and we are likely to hear more of it: if Christianity doesn’t learn to speak up, it will be slowly steamrollered.

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