Archbishop Smith of Southwark

Archbishops say the funniest things.

Archbishop Smith said that although Sikhs and Muslims had successfully used the law to uphold a right to manifest their beliefs in such areas as religious attire and jewelry, Christians were denied the same right because the courts had decided that it was not essential to the practice of their faith.

“Why can’t Christians wear the symbol of the cross?” he asked in an interview with the American Catholic News Service.

“It is absolutely part of the Gospel,” he said. “Without the cross there is no salvation. It is at the heart of our faith because it is the symbol and sign of God’s unconditional love.”

That really did make me laugh aloud. A torture device is the symbol and sign of God’s unconditional love. Without the symbol and sign of being tortured to death, there is no salvation. Oooooooooooookay.


  1. Yoritomo says

    This is just bad theology, and it’s a disgrace that an Archbishop doesn’t know his own religion better. I’m pretty sure that he could make a case against being forced to wear clothes made of both wool and linen, but Jesus simply forgot to command his followers to wear crosses. Too bad for Mr. Smith.

  2. John Morales says

    Yeah, well.

    According to their own tradition, Jesus didn’t wear a cross — the cross wore Jesus.

    (So, the Filipinos get that one right!)

  3. geocatherder says

    Back in the days of the dinosaurs, when I was a freshman undergrad living in the dorm, I used to hang out with the Christian girls on Friday night because they didn’t go drink/stone themselves silly. I remember one discussion where every girl but me wore a tiny gold or silver cross on a chain, and my dorm-mates were talking about the events where they received their crosses. I was a little freaked out. Still a Catholic at the time, I had no religious jewelry; in my household, at least, it wasn’t considered a proper way to display the crucifix. (Catholics didn’t do crosses, they did crucifixes, at least at the time.)

    But the “I have a cross to wear!” enthusiasm still strikes me as a bit weird.

  4. says

    Because Jesus and his disciples totally displayed crosses. Some of them even wore rosaries around their necks. True story.

    In the Archbish’s defense, I think to him, the cross symbolizes the resurrection. Hard to wear an empty tomb as an article of adornment.

  5. Jim Bales says

    Is the cross a symbol of Christianity? Yes, undeniably so.

    Is it essential to the practice of their faith? How is any judge more qualified to answer this for a given faith than a senior cleric in that faith?

    The article cites four individuals challenging their treatment. Two involved people who insisted upon wearing a cross while doing their job (airline check-in agent and hospital worker).

    I see no reason to forbid someone from wearing religious jewelry that does not interfere with their ability from doing their job, particularly if they are allowed to wear comparable *non-religious* jewelry on the job.

    (Note: it is *not* safe for a machinist to dangle a cross around their neck while working with machine tools. However, how can a cross on a chain around one’s neck interfere with one’s ability to check people in on a computer and issue them a boarding pass?)

    Finally, the cross was most certainly an instrument of torture. To believers, it is also the instrument of Christ’s sacrifice that (they believe) he made on their behalf.

    Ms Benson is, of course, welcome to laugh at Christians for their foolish beliefs. However, for Christians to adopt the cross — an instrument of torture — as the core symbol of their faith, is perfectly reasonable within the context of that faith.

    Why Ms Benson would feel it necessary to post her laughter for the world is beyond me. Is there a reason beyond making other people feel bad?

    Jim Bales

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