Cross Purposes

Once again the subject of wearing crosses in the workplace has reared its head again following the government’s decision that there is no automatic right to wear one.On this rare occasion I agree with the government.

The sort of people who get annoyed by this kind of thing have already been getting worked up about it. How can we show we are Christians, they demand of the government, if we can’t wear our execution-based jewelry?

Here of course is the irony. The sort of person who needs a bloody great cross to show that they are a Christian, the sort of person who rants and raves about their rights to wear a cross, needs a heck of a lot more than a piece of jewelry to convince anyone they have anything to do with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

Let me put it this way, my late mother needed nothing no personal adornment to show people she was a Christian. She lived in a way, and treated others in a way, that left nothing unclear. She didn’t need to wear a cross. Christians shouldn’t need a cross to demonstrate their faith.

But my real argument in supporting the government decision comes down to our idea of freedom of religious expression. This is a valid human rights issue – and our society allows people to express their religion even when there may be other legal conflicts. For example Sikhs are allowed to ride motorcycles without a helmet. Religious observance is protected by our laws.

But wearing a cross is not a religious observance. It is not a sacrament. There is no Biblical command to wear such an item – in fact one of the main features of Christianity was the removal of ritual, religious costume and the like. Christianity doesn’t require a temple, special magic underwear and the like.

Besides, so many people wear a cross as a jewelry item with no religious relevance to them that little meaning is conveyed to anyone by wearing one. Wearing a cross is at best meaningless, at worst among the militant Christian cross wearing types, a warning to others of what an asshat they are.

I see no reason why workplace rules on the wearing of jewelry should be different for Christians. The wish to wear a cross is not about religious observance. It is about certain types of people proving exactly what kind of man/woman they are, and not quite in the way they imagine.