THE Archbishop of Canterbury has annoyed Christians – including his predecessor, Lord Carey – by downplaying the significance of cross-wearing.
The cross, he said, had become some something “which religious people make and hang on to” as a substitute for true faith.
His comments came on the day it emerged that the Government is to argue in the European Court that Christians do not have the “right” to wear a cross as a visible manifestation of faith.
He now stands accused of failing to stand up for the right of believers to wear crosses in the workplace.
Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting part of the European Court claim, said the remarks were “unhelpful”.
Judges in Strasbourg are to consider a test case on religious freedom in Britain later this year. It will bring together four separate cases, including that of Nadia Eweida, a British Airways employee who faced disciplinary action for wearing a cross at work.
And in this report, Lord Cary accused ministers and the courts of “dictating” to Christians and said it was another example of Christianity becoming sidelined in official life.
Documents drawn up by the Foreign Office argue that wearing a cross is not protected under the European Convention on Human Rights because it is not viewed as an essential component of Christianity.
Carey said that the Government’s reasoning:
Is based on a wholly inappropriate judgment of matters of theology and worship about which they can claim no expertise. The irony is that when governments and courts dictate to Christians that the cross is a matter of insignificance, it becomes an even more important symbol and expression of our faith.
Back in 2010, the ex-archbish whined:
In recent years, there has been a wave of relentless and shameless attempts to hollow out our nation’s deep-seated roots in the Christian faith. This is despite the fact that 72 per cent of the population say they are Christian.
They want the European Court to rule that this breached their human right to manifest their religion.
Lawyers for the two women claim that the Government is setting the bar too high and that “manifesting” religion includes doing things that are not a “requirement of the faith”, and that they are therefore protected by human rights.
They say that Christians are given less protection than members of other religions who have been granted special status for garments or symbols such as the Sikh turban and kara bracelet, or the Muslim hijab.
Hat tip: Pete H and BarrieJohn