What Has Britain Come to When It Takes a Muslim like Me to Defend Christianity? AS A NURSE IS BANNED FROM WEARING A CRUCIFIX AT WORK
Byline: by Dr Taj Hargey IMAM OF THE OXFORD ISLAMIC CONGREGATION
CHRISTIANITY is under siege in this country. Britain's national religion has never been so marginalised and derided, especially by the public institutions that should be defending it.
The case of nurse Shirley Chaplin, who has been banned by Devon and Exeter NHS Trust from wearing her crucifix while caring for patients, is a graphic illustration of this insidious trend.
Indeed, it is surely an affront to the very concept of religious liberty, which was once regarded as a cornerstone of our democratic, respectful and tolerant nation.
For make no mistake, a new form of virulent secularism is sweeping through society -- and its target is Christianity.
I am Muslim. But even as a non-Christian, I can see all too clearly the shameful way in which Britain's national faith is being eroded. Indeed, banning a crucifix makes a mockery of our treasured right to religious freedom.
With a typically bureaucratic mix of arrogance and authoritarianism, the Devon and Exeter Trust has claimed that the ban is not an attack on Christianity because wearing a crucifix is not an essential requirement of the faith.
But who appointed these quangocrats to pronounce on matters of religious doctrine? What right do they have to lecture a devout woman about her cherished beliefs?
And why can't they accept that Ms Chaplin's deeply religious convictions, which she chooses to express by wearing the crucifix, also inspire her compassionate work in the NHS?
As a Muslim, I am filled with despair at the attitude of our politically correct officials towards Christianity.
For me, all true religious faith, if practised with benevolence and humility, can only strengthen our society. To undermine religion is to undermine society itself.
It is no coincidence that as Christianity is repeatedly attacked, so the social fabric of Britain becomes increasingly frayed. As we lose our strong moral compass, family breakdown and violent crime are at record levels, while our once famous sense of community spirit is evaporating.
In the face of this kind of aggressive secularism, Christians and Muslims should be natural allies.
For contrary to what a few loud-mouthed Muslim extremists like to claim, there is no conflict between Christianity and Islam. They are part of the great Abrahamic tradition -- indeed, there is a key verse in the Koran that reads: 'The people closest and dearest to Muslims are those who say: "We are Christians." '
It is, therefore, the duty of British Muslims to defend Christianity when it comes under assault. For it is vital to recognise the central role that Christianity has played in the creation of our shared culture.
Indeed, Christian ethics form the basis of our justice system, with its emphasis on fairness and equality before the law.
And without the restraining, selfless morality that ultimately stems from faith, the triumph of either social anarchy or totalitarianism becomes a worrying possibility.
But what is sickening about this case is the PC brigade's outrageous hypocrisy.
For in the public sector, normally so hypersensitive to allegations of prejudice against ethnic minorities, it is unimaginable that bureaucrats would wade in with the same bullying ferocity against a Muslim or Hindu nurse who wanted to wear a symbol of her faith in the workplace.
Indeed, there have recently been several cases of education officials allowing Sikh pupils to carry their ritual daggers, while banning Christians from wearing crosses.
Similarly, many schools have been sidelining Christianity, while celebrating other religions, so much so that in some areas we have a generation of pupils who know more about the Hindu festival of Diwali than about the religious meaning of Christmas. …