Jewellery and Dress Codes (redux)

It must have been a slow news day: a nurse is seeking legal advice after being told by her employers that she wasn’t allowed to wear a necklace at work.  What’s so – ahem – special about this is that it’s a crucifix necklace:

Mrs Chaplin has sought advice from the Christian Legal Centre (CLC).

Its founder, barrister Andrea Minichiello Williams, said patients would be “astonished” at the trust’s actions.

“You cannot separate a person’s faith and motivation from other areas of their life, including what they do with the majority of their time: work.

“Unfortunately an aggressive, secularist, politically-correct agenda is being driven in the NHS and other public sectors at present.”

The CLC said it intended to assist the nurse in exercising her human rights.

Human rights?  Um… nope.  You might have a right to religious practice (and even then, it presumably can’t be more than a right to practice your religion in private, can it?), but I can’t for the life of me see how wearing a crucifix is central to anyone’s religious practice – rather, it’s an advertisement of faith, and there’s no right to proselytise or advertise.  Moreover, talk of “an aggressive, secularist, politically-correct agenda” just looks foolish – which is appropriate, becasue it is.  A hospital is a secular institution, dammit.  So’s the NHS.  It’s not about pushing a secularist, PC agenda: it’s about being secular and not having to bend to the non-secular.

What seems particularly disingenuous about this is the way in which the CLC presents this as an attack on Christianity, rather than a simple application of a rule about jewellery.  The Daily Fail seems particularly keen to present the story in that light:

Christian nurse removed from frontline duty for wearing cross necklace

screams the headline, before churning out the same quotations as the BBC (which makes me wonder whether the journalists reporting the story for either body have done more than recycle a CLC press release).  However, across at Tabloid Watch, MacGuffin points out that

[i]f [the story had] read ‘Nurse removed from frontline duty for wearing necklace’ would anyone be interested? No. But that is the story.

Or, rather, the non-story.  Would an NHS trust be justified in forbidding Christian jewellery?  Nope.  Would it be justified in forbidding certain kinds of jewellery across the board?  Um… yes.  Obviously.

Finally, the nurse in question does herself no favours:

“Everyone I have ever worked with has clearly known I am a Christian – it is what motivates me to care for others,” she said.

To which the obvious retort is this: do you mean that, were it not for your religion, you wouldn’t care for others?  That the non-religious are somehow uncaring?  Really?

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