This story, concerning my wife’s school, hit the local press today. Such is its vital importance to the nation that it is even on the front page of that bastion of Truth, the Daily Express (there is no link to the story, just a picture at the top right of the front page of the publication). A child at Sinfin Community School was told not to wear a crucifix while at school.
As I understand it, the cold facts are that the school has a strict no-jewelry policy for safety reasons. However, if a religion requires a particular piece to be worn then it can be worn, provided the parent signs a disclaimer that the school is not responsible for an injuries than may occur to the wearer as a direct result. So, for example, Sikhs can wear their wristbands.
The parent who is the source of this bit of ‘news’ was offered the chance to get her priest to write a letter stating that the crucifix was essential to the child’s religion. Then she would have been allowed to wear it. Of course, such a thing is impossible since no Christian leader (in its broadest definition) believes any bit of jewelry is essential to the faith. So, still believing this was discrimination, she went to the press.
Of course it is a story blown up out of all proportion, and rather than revealing an important issue, merely shows the vindictiveness, indeed racism, hiding under the cloak of nominal christianity in the post-christian UK. There is a great deal to be concerned about in this country regarding the freedom to articulate the content of the Christian faith. There are clouds on the horizon. But this is not one of them.
If anything, thinking tangentially, this case highlights the need to strongly oppose any attempt to create laws such as the religious hatred bill currently going through parliament. Why? Because there are always those of a vindictive nature who will seek to abuse such laws to their own personal ends, no matter how well-meaning the government sounds.
UPDATE: This story has also made its way on to the pages of the national Daily Telegraph
FURTHER UPDATE: And on Sky News!