This one seems pretty cut and dried.
The British government asserts that Christians have no right to wear a cross or crucifix at work and is eager to prove it in court.
The case was initiated by two British women Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin, after they were punished for refusing to take off their religious symbols.
According to reports, the British government is arguing that since wearing a cross is not a requirement of the Christian faith, the government and/or the women’s employers are not violating the women’s religious freedom by forbidding them to wear the tiny ornaments. There is some speculation that the prohibition is motivated by a desire to punish the Catholic church for its opposition to the government’s plan to legalize same-sex marriage.
This stinks like leftover cat food. Much as I’d like a secular state, I like liberty better. And there’s just no way liberty can co-exist with the principle that it’s ok to single out certain forms of self expression and suppress them based on the religious viewpoints they express. Europe has lived under the dominion of the various Christian governments for centuries, and I can understand the backlash. But an extremist state is still an extremist state no matter which extreme it’s swinging towards. The middle ground, where equal liberty is shared by all, is the right place to be.
[UPDATE: As many people have pointed out, there’s more to the story than it first appeared. The issue isn’t whether Christians can be singled out for removal of their religious jewelry, but whether they can claim a religious exemption for jewelry that would otherwise be a violation of their employer’s dress code, for health or other reasons. The story still stinks, but for other reasons than I first concluded. I’m adding the Martyr Envy tag to this one.]