London, Mar 11(ANI): The UK government is likely to argue in a landmark case at the European Court of Human Rights that Christians do not have a right to wear a cross or crucifix openly at the workplace.
It is the first time that the government has been forced to reflect its stance on whether Christians have a right to wear the symbol at work, The Telegraph reports.
The Strasbourg case hinges on whether human rights laws protect the right to wear a cross at work under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
According to the leaked document, ministers are likely to argue employers can ban the wearing of the cross and even sack workers if they violate the rule because wearing the cross is not a "requirement" of the Christian faith
The Christian women bringing the case, Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin, claimed that they were discriminated against when their employers barred them from wearing the symbols.
Former British Airways worker Eweida was suspended for refusing to take off the cross, which her employers claimed breached the uniform code, while Chaplin was barred from working on wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after she refused to hide the cross she wore on a necklace chain, ending 31 years of her nursing career.
The UK government, however, claimed both women's application to the Strasbourg court is "manifestly ill-founded".
"The Government submit 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...the restriction on the applicants' wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was not an 'interference' with their rights protected by Article 9," it added.
Their lawyers refute the claim saying the government is setting the bar too high and added that "manifesting" religion includes doing things that are not a "requirement of the faith", and that they are therefore protected by human rights.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has slammed the government for "dictating" to Christians and added it demonstrated that Christianity was becoming sidelined in official life.
"The reasoning is based on a wholly inappropriate judgment of matters of theology and worship about which they can claim no expertise. The irony is that when governments and courts dictate to Christians that the cross is a matter of insignificance, it becomes an even more important symbol and expression of our faith," he added. (ANI)
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