The Cross not displayed

Our Press Officer asked me to write a comment for the website on the case of Ms Nadia Eweida – a BA employee who lost her appeal that she should be allowed to wear her cross at the check-out desk.  You’ll find my comment here:
The cross not displayed


  1. What really worries me in this ever so politically correct land of ours, is that B.A., or indeed any other carrier, may take this further and insist that passengers conform to the same rules. I wonder if any of their staff may DARE to discriminate upon the colour of a shirt, perhaps.

  2. I agree with David’s comment. And, as they say in Northern Ireland over the display of religious and other symbols, many people will travel a long way to be offended. But, in this case, it seems to me that the question of whether or not the religious symbol is worn to ‘make a statement’ is not the main issue. What I find difficult is that BA seems to have adopted a policy which cannot be applied consistently to all religious groups and is therefore at risk of being inherently discriminatory. If those whose religious symbols cannot on practical grounds be worn under clothes are exempt from the policy, it is not a sensible policy. And lurking in the background of this is the – in my view reasonable – suspicion that BA may have decided that it is easier to stop Christians wearing crosses than Sikhs wearing turbans. But why would you want to do either?

  3. I find this less straightforward than it appears.

    The wearing of a religious symbol, in this case, the cross, should of course be allowed.

    I am less sure when this spills over into “making a public statement”. Ms Eweida’s cross was (I think) fairly large and obvious. I would have been happier if it was more tasteful and discreet – even if worn outside her clothing. Difficult for British Airways to make a subjective ruling, and I think that they should have let this one pass.

    It is exactly the same with the full veil Muslim dress debate. I am uneasy if it is done purely to make a statement.

  4. I commend you for your leadership in challenging the idea that display of religious symbols is likely to be ‘offensive’ or ‘threatening’ to others. This idea regards religion largely as an embarrasing leftover from past ages and, worryingly, it seems to be increasingly accepted by the media as mainstream. As you point out, people who hold this view tend to be more tolerant of religious symbolism by minority ethnic groups – for fear of appearing discriminatory – but, even then, this tolerance is often tempered by a ‘they’ll-grow-out-of-it-in-a-generation-or-so’ attitude. As you say, We need to promote the idea – along with people of other faiths – that faith makes a positive and joyous contribution to society and that diversity of religious and ethnic expression is to be welcomed. This may require a greater media presence by religious leaders and by individual people of faith.

  5. `They should be able to look at and respect one another’s ethnic and religious symbols without feeling offended or threatened.’

    Absolutely! Ban none, hide none, bring ’em all out in the open. It’s the only sensible way.

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