Government: Christians Have No Right to Wear Cross at Work

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: March 1, 2012

The UK Government submitted to the European Court of Human Rights that the applicants' wearing of a visible cross or Crucifix was not a manifestation of their religion or belief within the meaning of Article 9, and, in any event, the restriction on the applicants' wearing of a visible cross or Crucifix was not an "interference" with their rights protected by Article 9.

This highly controversial position is a defense of the British position at a pending verdict at the European Court of Human Rights. Read more about the case Chaplin here...  and the case Eweida here. This is the line of arguments of the British Government, which the Observatory does not share: "Article 9 protects the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion... (it) also protects the right to manifest religion or belief. It is, however, only manifestations that take one of there forms listed in Article 9 that are protected, namely "worship, teaching, practice or observance", and applicants will need to show that the manifestation in question takes one of these forms to come within Article 9." "In neither case is there any suggestion that the wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was a generally recognised form of practising the Christian faith, still less one that is regarded (including by the applicants themselves) as a requirement of the faith, The applicants' desire to wear a visible cross or Crucifix may have been inspired or motivated by a sincere religious commitment. It was not, however, a recognised religious practice or requirement of the Christian faith. It therefore does not fall within the scope of Article 9." "No pressure was placed on either applicant to change their religious views and both were told that they could wear the cross or Crucifix provided that it was covered when dealing with customers or patients... Furthermore, not only were both applicants free to resign and to find alternative work in which they would be permitted to wear a visible cross or Crucifix, but both applicants were offered the opportunity to do so with the same employer for the same pay in different positions." "Where the individual in question is free to resign and seek employment elsewhere or practise their religion unfettered outside their employment, that is sufficient to guarantee their Article 9 rights in domestic law." Sources: