Holy cross equals job loss?

That appears to be the threat hanging over one very devout nurse:

Shirley Chaplin, a committed Christian, has been told by her employers that she must hide or remove the cross or remain out of the hospital wards.

I don’t know about anyone else, but that seems extreme to me. I’m sure they’ll explain their position though.

Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital told her that she cannot wear the one-inch tall silver cross openly around her neck, because it breaches their uniform policy and poses a risk to patients.

There you go. Safety concerns. Reasonable enough for a hospital, one would think. Turns out there’s a (tiny) concern that a patient might try to grab something shiny that swings from a nurse’s neck. It’s her safety they have in mind as much the patients’. Does this occur to her? Judging by her reaction, no.

While the Trust has banned the crucifix in its wards, it makes concessions for other faiths, including allowing Muslim nurses to wear headscarves on duty.

Well, they’re fabric, not metal, for one thing. But some patient could get freaked and grab the thing and choke her, maybe. Was that possibility discussed when they were revising their policies? It does seem unfair to make allowances for one side and restrict others. Then again, it’d never be considered jewelery, which is all the policy is banning. Headscarves are a non-issue in this case. (alert: they “make concessions” for mandatory Muslim clothing but “ban” Christians from wearing their optional faith trinkets. Strike one.)

Point of note: Nobody will take away your Christian membership card if you don’t hang a torture implement around your neck. They haven’t added a new commandment to the bible, “Thou shalt wear tacky Jesus bling” or anything. It’s still as much a choice to wear as are socks with sandals (which can also be tacky).

She has been warned by her employers that she will be suspended if she does not comply with their request. There are fears that this would lead to her dismissal.

Well, it might, if she continues to be this stubborn over a piece of metal. She cannot display jewelry around the patients. She’s disobeying the rules and she’s been warned of the risk of suspension if she keeps it up. If she doesn’t smarten up, her continued employment there will be on the line. The policy may be completely rigid and retarded but they are still required to enforce it. She’s not the only person this affects. Every member on staff has been informed of the new rules. She’s just the only one freaking out about it.

They’ve given her the option of taking off the cross, or tucking it under her blouse or smock (I’m assuming) so it’s out of the way. (alert: the writer of the piece, Jonathan Wynne-Jones, states she’s been told to “hide” it, which sounds a lot more anti-Christian than “put it away.” Strike two.)

Mrs Chaplin, 54, says she has been shocked and distressed by the threat, which means she must choose between her faith and her job.

Now this is where it becomes a load of tripe that not even a dog would swallow. What threat? They’ve stated what the policy is and she isn’t complying but they haven’t said outright that they’re going to fire her. I don’t think. Read this and see what sense it makes:

She was taken off duty in July and was warned last month that she would be suspended if she refuses to back down or accepts an administrative role at the hospital, which could affect her pension.

She’ll also risk suspension if she takes an admin job, or she can take an admin job (that may affect retirement plans) instead of getting suspended. The first way makes no logical sense, so I’m going to assume Wynne-Jones meant (but totally botched) the second. If she can’t work without a cross on, she can’t work in the wards. Administration sounds like a decent compromise. An olive branch, if you will.

As far as I’m concerned, the nurse is the one being completely unreasonable in this situation but her holy Jesus loving pride is not going to allow her to back off. The very fact that she’s gotten media attention out of it proves that. Does she want to be a nurse, or a martyr? “Religious-persecution” stories are so tiresome when they’re this shallow and self-centered. Anyone without a religious agenda or an axe to grind would just take off the necklace and get back to work. It should not be this big a deal.

She has spent all of her career at the hospital and has never been challenged before for wearing the necklace, which she considers to be a symbol of her deeply-held Christian faith.

The timing is a bit odd. The new policy came into effect last year but she only got warned about her crucifix in June. Mind you, I’ve worked for places where bureaucracy moves at the speed of chilled molassas and not everyone’s getting the same memos. I don’t know how speedy NHS Trust usually is when it comes to policy enforcement. Maybe these information delays are simply par for the course.

The spokesman admitted that not everyone at the hospital complies with the code, but said that this was the first time a member of staff had refused to co-operate with the policy.

Exceptions are made for requirements of faith, but a crucifix is not considered to fall under this category, they added.

Right, because a head scarf is built into the idiocy of Muslim decency rules for women and how they are allowed to dress themselves. They can’t not wear one. Crosses, no matter how strong one’s faith is, are still entirely optional decorative wear. They send a message that the wearer is a Christian, and that’s all. (Makes it easy for atheists to identify them, too. Maybe we should all be against this policy. I wouldn’t want to be caught unawares. I might get prayed on…)

“I feel that I’m being bullied and victimised because of my faith,” Chaplin’s reported as saying. No, dear. You’re being bullied because you’re breaking a rule others have agreed to follow yet you still manage to think your bosses have wronged you in some way. You’re making yourself into a victim by trying to claim it’s religious discrimination when it’s not.

“I can’t explain how important the cross is to me. It’s how I express my faith,” she says. It’s all right, dear. You don’t have to explain. Faith is by and large inexplicable. Just keep in mind that no one is saying that you can never wear a cross again for so long as you live. They’re asking you not to wear or display it while you work because the chain its on could become a safety hazard at some point. It’s not about your damned religion, no matter how much you try to spin it that way.

“My Christian faith is what motivates me to care for others,” she also says. But if your faith doesn’t motivate you enough to put your patients first and a necklace second, then you are in the wrong job, dear. Are there any Family Christian Stores in Britain? I’m sure they’d have whole counters devoted to your most favourite holy accessory.

Faith was Mother Teresa’s motivation, if you’ll recall, and how many people died under her “care” I wonder? Because Jesus tells you so isn’t a good enough reason to dedicate yourself to a job, unless you want to be a nun. A nurse ought to be motivated for other reasons. A passion for saving lives should probably be one of them. If your passion for a cross on a chain is stronger than your compassion for patients in a hospital, you are in the wrong job. Full stop.

Alas, she’s got all the big dogs of human rights and Christian discrimination groups in her corner for this one. States Andrea Minichiello Williams, founder and director of the Christian Legal Centre:

“You cannot separate a person’s faith and motivation from other areas of their life, including their work,”

They haven’t said she can’t be a Christian. They’ve said she can’t wear jewelery.

More from Williams:

“Unfortunately an aggressive, secularist, politically correct agenda is being driven in the NHS and other public sectors at present.

“This agenda is leading to case after case of discrimination against Christians and real suffering.”

No, dear. This is real suffering:


What Mrs. Chaplin has is a mosquito bite and you’re calling in an army to scratch it.

(Strike three. You’re out.)

At least Wynne-Jones redeems himself by not finishing the story there. He ends the report with quotes from the Trust spokesperson:

“We take a pragmatic approach. We don’t see any reason why a nurse on a ward wouldn’t be allowed to wear a cross provided quality of care and health and safety weren’t compromised.

“Where a member of staff in a ward environment needed to wear a head dress in line with their religious requirements, they were permitted and allowed to do so after discussion with infection control and an assessment of health and safety.

“A Muslim woman wearing a headscarf would be seen as a requirement of faith and does not cause a health and safety risk for her patients. This nurse’s faith does not require the wearing of a necklace or a crucifix, so our position is that this is not an issue of faith but an issue of health and safety in the work place.”

If only that really was the end of it…

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