More cries of ‘persecution’ follow Christian nurse Chaplin’s tribunal defeat
A PRAYER offensive launched last month by the Christian Legal Centre in support of a Christian nurseÂ failed to move God or sway an employment tribunal, which today brushed aside her discrimination claim.
Shirley Chaplin, 54, took the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS trust hospital to tribunal after she was moved to a desk job for refusing to remove her crucifix while working with patients.
She claimed that taking off a necklace bearing a crucifix would “violate her faith”.
The trust said the move was not specifically about the crucifix, but about health and safety concerns about patients grabbing necklaces.
Today, reports The Guardian, John Hollow, the employment tribunal panel chairman, found against Chaplin, who had worn the emblem throughout her 30 years as a nurse.
Hollow ruled the trust had acted in a “reasonable” manner in trying to reach a compromise. He said the damage to her was “slight” and noted that wearing a crucifix was not a requirement of the Christian faith.
Jane Viner, the trust’s Acting Director of Nursing, told the BBC it was “absolutely satisfied” with the tribunal’s decision.
These were very serious allegations of direct and indirect discrimination and we’re satisfied that the tribunal has completely dismissed them.
Chaplin, who is intending to appeal against the decision, said:
The law doesn’t appear to be on the Christian side.
She said Christians in the workplace would feel “quite persecuted” by the ruling.
I have been a nurse for roughly 30 years and throughout that time I have worn my crucifix. The crucifix is an exceptionally important expression of my faith and my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.
To deliberately remove or hide my crucifix or to treat it disrespectfully would violate my faith.
It was suggested she pin the crucifix inside her uniform but Chaplin could not accept that. She explained:
I was being asked to hide my religion and my faith. I found it disrespectful.
In September, a request to keep the cross pinned outside her uniform was turned down, she said.
This answer confirmed to me that they simply wanted to remove the visibility of the crucifix.
Chaplin’s case was highlighted by the archbishop of Canterbury in his Easter sermon last weekend, when he referred to “wooden-headed bureaucratic silliness”, which has seen some Christians stopped from wearing religious symbols at work. Rowan Williams said there was a “strange mixture of contempt and fear” towards Christianity.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, Director of the Christian Legal Centre which championed Chaplin’s case, said:
The decision shows a worrying lack of common sense. No evidence supported the Trust’s â€˜health and safety’ position, yet the Tribunal considered removing Mrs Chaplin’s Cross as a proportionate response to a â€˜health and safety’ risk that was never established.
The extent to which the Trust is prepared to stop Mrs Chaplin manifesting her religious beliefs is remarkable. We hope that the Employment Appeal Tribunal will reverse today’s decision and allow Mrs Chaplin to wear her Cross visibly, in the same way that doctors and nurses of other religions can manifest their religious beliefs.
Vowing to appeal today’s ruling, Chaplin said:
I fight on and I fight to win the right for Christians to live out their faith in Britain today – anything less would be a negation of my Christian duty.