Thinking Anglicans

Sentamu responds to British Airways case

The Archbishop of York has issued this press release: ARCHBISHOP DERIDES ”FLAWED REASONING” OF BA CROSS DECISION.

This responds to the decision announced today concerning a British Airways employee, see for example, BBC Woman loses fight to wear cross.

Some other press reports:
Press Association BA criticised in cross row
Associated Press British Airways employee loses appeal to wear cross necklace at work
Reuters BA worker loses appeal over right to wear crucifix
BBC Archbishop attacks BA cross rules
The Times BA worker loses appeal in row over cross
Telegraph Archbishop blasts BA as employee loses cross appeal
Guardian BA woman loses appeal against ban on wearing a cross at work

The official British Airways response is not on the web, but a copy of it that was emailed to me is below the fold.

British Airways statement

British Airways has 34,000 uniformed staff, all of whom know they must abide by our uniform policy. The policy does NOT ban staff from wearing a cross. It lays down that personal items of jewellery, including crosses, may be worn – but underneath the uniform. Other airlines have the same policy.

  • Our uniformed staff, many thousands of whom are Christian, have happily accepted the policy for years. The policy recognises that it is not practical for some religious symbols such as turbans and hijabs to be worn underneath the uniform. This is purely a question of practicality. There is no discrimination between faiths whatsoever.
  • British Airways is a worldwide company operating in 90 different countries. We have staff and customers of all faiths and none. The uniform policy reflects the need to present a professional and consistent image wherever we operate.
  • In Nadia Eweida’s case, she is not suspended and we want her to come back to work. We have explained to her the need to comply with the uniform policy like all her colleagues, whatever their faith..She is refusing to do this. We have also offered her an alternative non-uniformed post, in which she would be able to wear her cross openly.

Nadia was told today that her grievance appeal against the uniform policy had been unsuccessful. We understand she intends to exercise her right to a second appeal.

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Cheryl Clough
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There needs to be consistency in application. If turbans and veils are allowed so that people can honor their faith, then other religious symbols e.g. the cross are also legitimate. I can remember when souls fought for the right to wear their veils and turbans, and I supported them at the time. Now it is their turn to protect Christians, or else their own victory is jeopardised by this precedent.

DaveW
Guest
DaveW

Well done archbishop Sentamu for speaking out again so clearly and correctly. There is a contradiction in BA’s position and their statements. Yes BA does have a ban on showing jewellery which perhaps just happens to penalise Christian symbols. It is the employee that has made the claim it is a relgious symbol and wants parity and equal treatment. However BA have responded by refer to the impracticality of headscarves and turbans being concealed. But if the reason is practicality I would say that is complete nonsense as the Jewellery is less impractical than scarves and turbans. There are two… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

But we are required to bear our Cross, not wear it. She is not required by her faith to have a visible cross. Indeed, her fight to do so could be seen as ostentatious display, and akin to the sin of pride. Is she really doing this to spread the Gospel, or to say something publically about herself? If the former, she can do that without doing something that, to me, seems an awful lot like attention seeking. If the latter, then she needs to learn the Christian virtue of humility. It isn’t oppressive to ban jewelry.

DaveW
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DaveW

Dear Ford Elms, I would agree that Christians are not required to wear a cross, but thats not the issue. If it were we wpuld be in a debate as to whether the hijab was a requirement. BA has not suggested their policy is about religious requirments indeed it has said “The policy recognises that it is not practical for some religious symbols — such as turbans and hijabs — to be worn underneath the uniform.” So if anything it could be implying that the cross is a religious symbol of equal necessity. Indeed BA states “This is purely a… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

It seems relatively petty on both sides. She does not have to wear a cross, and it does not carry the same religious and cultural significance as either the turban or the veil. There is no Christian dress code. On the other hand, it is surely no big deal for British Airways to allow relatively simple jewellery. I carry around some religious objects from time to time, but make a point of them not being seen – if people want to know my religion or religious business, they can find out over time. She’s made her point, and the case… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

I’m afraid we shall all be a laughing-stock with Sentamu’s grandiose blunderings. We all know that wearing a cross is no requirement or even recommendation of Christianity, nor is it a serious cultural issue / commitment for Christians. The turban is rquired by Sikkhism. The yurmulke and circumscission by Judaism. Various forms of ‘The veil’ is required of Moslem women in various communites, de facto. Also many ‘ordinary’ Brits were a cross, or Magen David (Star of David) under blouse of shirt because given as a special gift by parents at age 21, or other milestone in life, and feels… Read more »

DaveW
Guest
DaveW

If its not a big issue BA wont mind changing their rules One would normaly expect a uniform to be… well uniform. If some have scarfs and some have turbans, the uniform isnt uniform. If it isnt a big issue to have such exceptions then the visible cross will be fine. I dont see what BA’s objection is and why there cant be exceptions for jewellery.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

I know fearful Christians for whom wearing a cross is a requirement. They believe it protects them from the evil one and get frightened when the chain breaks. Simlarly, I know of Muslims or Hindus who do not feel a need to wear their veil or turban but do so out of respect. A society that says that Christian ornaments are not legitimate whilst others are is a society that has become inconsistent. That will merely exacerbate tensions between the faiths e.g. “Why are you allowed to wear your religious symbols, but not me?” Or gloating that “my religious symbols… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

DaveW,
Why would you say the hijab is debatable for Muslims?

Tim
Guest

The issue is not `requirement’ but the fact that the cross is one religious symbol amongst many. And on those grounds, BA’s policy, however much they might seeke to apply it even-handedly, is bigoted.

Steve Watson.
Guest
Steve Watson.

BA may not care about Christian prophets but they do care about making profits from Christians. If enough Christians told them they were taking their business elsewhere, I imagine they would do a rethink.
As a member of the public I couldn’t care less what jewelery or headwear an airline staff worker wore (well, maybe not a full face veil, but then again …), but rather whether the worker was courteous and efficient.
The lady concerned is from a Coptic background in Egypt. She knows at first hand that Christians in the Muslim-dominated world are often ill-treated for wearing a cross.

Ren Aguila
Guest
Ren Aguila

Exactly. And which is why Christians ought to be fighting back, not making any more wishy-washy statements about pluralism.
Christ is our Lord, remember? We all promised to fight for him.

Alan Harrison
Guest
Alan Harrison

Pluralist: “There is no Christian dress code.” Ford Elms: “Why would you say the hijab is debatable for Muslims?” I think the fact of the matter is that these matters are very much ruled by custom and tradition, and vary from place to place. Until recently, the wearing of hijab by Muslim women of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin was virtually unknown in Britain, and I suspect that this reflects custom in the countries from which their families originated. In France, while some “beurettes” have recently expressed a wish to wear hijab, the Arab women’s organization “Ni Putes Ni Soumises” has… Read more »

DaveW
Guest
DaveW

Dear Cheryl Clough,
I think consistency in application is exactly what the issue here is. You wrote “That will merely exacerbate tensions between the faiths”.. on the contrary the faiths are tending to find common ground over this.

Dear Ford Elms,
You asked “Why would you say the hijab is debatable for Muslims?”
I don’t know, why would I?

Cheryl Clough
Guest

DaveW If you are reporting from first hand observations that there is being co-operation from and between the faiths on this matter, then that is a victory. One of the things that has been niggling me over the last few weeks is who wants God taken from the public agenda? Or who wants God reduced and dissected into some simplistic model that denies the complexity and comprehensiveness of both God and Creation? Who is trying to impose simplistic models and demand that the faiths agreed to a watered down version of God? I rather like the idea of a God… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Alan, To an extent you are correct. The Qur’an says, I’m paraphrasing, that women should draw their cloaks about themselves, and there is some suggestion that it was directed at the Propeht’s family only, but this is not, as afar as I know, widely accepted. This is interpreted as being anything from a head covering to a burka, but nowhere in Islam is it considered optional. From what Muslim friends have told me, girls don’t wear the veil. It’s pretty much the done thing for women to put it on at puberty in more traditional countries, but it is much… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Ford

It is worth looking at history, the kind of veils and how they are worn has varied from nation to nation and even within nations over time. There is a strong affirmation of it in this current period.

I would not challenge it, because it means so much to them.

But there is the biblical warning that wearing clothes (e.g. veils) and public appearances does not mean that God is privately happy with you. Ezekiel 13:18-23 addresses this quite well. The cautions about veils can also apply to other religious adornments, including crosses.

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

“The yurmulke and circumscission by Judaism” – thank goodness some religious symbols can be worn beneath the garments!

laurence
Guest
laurence

Alan — see what you mean. –the obverse could be fun too !

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

It is a question of time and place. Measure. ;=) When I was a child 40 years ago, in a rather backwards part of the country where we lived in the summer, the old women were all clad in black – black socks, black skirt, black jumper, black head scarfe. Most of which was home spun, home knitted and home sewn. They were Church of Sweden. They had never left home, never been further than the church in the village. Every summer we counted them – so that no one would have defected from the only right and true, since… Read more »

DaveW
Guest
DaveW

Dear Cheryl Clough,
You wrote “Who is trying to impose simplistic models and demand that the faiths agreed to a watered down version of God?”
Faiths have different contradictory understandings of God, how can one not water down the versions to be able to talk about God. If one waters down all the versions one can hardly claim to believe in any of them.
You wrote “..when I first noticed Ecclesiastes 7:17-18” But thats the Bible OT isnt it, some faiths question whether that is corrupted.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

DaveW Some people question whether the NT is corrupted, or at least how it is selectively quoted. One of my bemusements over the last day has been that I was questioned whether Esau was real. But Eve’s reality, even though she is even more mythical, is not questioned? So we question what might shake our complacency, whilst eagerly affirming that which rubberstamps our prejudices? We endorse texts and authors that flatter and dismiss but eschew that which might challenge? That is an an evolutionary dead end – such souls ignore the forces that would change us for the better. They… Read more »

DaveW
Guest
DaveW

Dear Cheryl Clough,
“Some people question whether the NT is corrupted, or at least how it is selectively quoted.” People do and claim all kinds of things Cheryl, but what I had in mind was the Quaran.
If Eve is more mythical than Esau how do you know and the Nt writers not know?
You wrote “We endorse texts and authors that flatter and dismiss but eschew that which might challenge? “
I endorse the NT Cheryl, Anglicans believe the OT and NT are rule and standard of faith.
God Bless

DaveW
Guest
DaveW

I think BA will have to back down on this one as the is a great deal of opposition to the inconsistent BA rules from all around the world.
Now the bishop of London has commented as well I believe

Cheryl Clough
Guest

DaveW Then why are some parts of the text challenged and not others? Why consider my visions? My contributions are not imposed, I am but one voice on the council. The confirmations affirm my right to contribute to the debate, but I do not seek followers or a church of my own. I am of no one group and am therefore for all groups. See Jesus prophecy Matthew 12:39-45 & Luke 11:29-32 See my personal testimony page, which those in the know hold none of the significant coincidences since early 2006 nor a plethora of minor ones before that. As… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

The rules aren’t inconsistent. The question is : should they retain such a strict rule on jewellery? If they allow crosses, then other small items of jewellery should also be allowed – which is fine by me. I couldn’t care less what religion a check-in assistant is as long as they process the bags correctly and clear the queues!

DaveW
Guest
DaveW

Dear Merseymike,
Well I still beg to differ, the rules are inconsistent. You wrote “If they allow crosses, then other small items of jewellery should also be allowed” Well if they only allow hijab and turban because its too big to hide a Christian could wear a big cross that is too big to hide, but they cant because all jewellery must be hidden…so the rules are inconsistent.
Neither do I expect a check-in assistant to have to be Christian so I don’t see what that has to do with it.

DaveW
Guest
DaveW

Dear Cheryl Clough,
You ask “Then why are some parts of the text challenged and not others? “
Well I don’t think they are challenged by believers Cheryl. The Anglican Communion states that the OT and NT is rule and standard of faith.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Hijab or turban are not jewellery – but this is such a storm in a teacup. personally, I don’t care what religion this woman is as long as she keeps her mouth shut about it when checking in my bags…

DaveW
Guest
DaveW

Dear Merseymike,
I repeat, the Hijab and turban are not jewellery, they are religious garments too impractical to hide. The cross in this case is jewellery not too impractical to hide. But the main thing is that bishops and most Christians have understood the inconsistency and now so have BA.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

DaveW “they aren’t challenged by believers” No there is group think going on. Part of that group think is that if anyone challenges, then then are not believers of Jesus nor saved by grace of God. The group think says that we are right because we affirm we are right and we have been affirming we are right for centuries and so therefore we are right. Pity that the planet itself can’t cope with the group think paradigms. E.g. irresponsible desire of children for religious dominance, AIDS, ecological collapse, end of the oil age, terrorism, institutionalised poverty, corrupt power brokers,… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

I have been evanglised times without number ! I love hearing of people’s lives and inner journeys. I have a particular soft spot for JWs -they seem so thoughtful, and give up so much time and effort (why is it always raining?). However, I find those lovely eager Mormon missionaries most engaging — somehow! (They are always ‘Elder this’ and ‘Elder that’) ‘Preach the gospel wherever you go — if necessary use words’. This is my philosphy these days. Wish I could really live up to it. But I know my words wouldn’t add much!….(Howeever I did testify through a… Read more »

Ben
Guest
Ben

Firstly, I would like to refer readers to Romans 13, which talks about obeying rules. Surely, this woman should obey the rules that have been laid out by BA, is not, then she is rebelling against God. Secondly, I am assuming her cross is made of silver, or something like that. Correct me if i am wrong, but do you not get the impression from the bible that we do not need material goods, I refer the reader to 1 Timothy 6:7-8. Would not Jesus have wanted to her to sell her necklace and give the money to the poor,… Read more »