Jews Ban Crucifix – the cross

Jews Ban Crucifix – the cross

Georgina Sarikoudis with her crucifix outside St Raphael Greek Orthodox Church in Bentleigh. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin
Georgina Sarikoudis with her crucifix outside St Raphael Greek Orthodox Church in Bentleigh. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

Qantas worker files discrimination claim over crucifix ban

A FORMER Qantas employee has accused the airline of banning crucifixes while allowing Muslim women to wear head scarfs.

Georgina Sarikoudis claims the airline discriminated against the Christian faith by demanding she and others discard the religious insignia.

Mrs Sarikoudis, a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, claims in tribunal documents she was subjected to “threats and ridicule” by managers who ordered her to cut off her prayer-knot bracelet and remove her necklace with a crucifix on it.

“The Qantas uniform policy allows for head scarfs by Muslim females but no allowance for the wearing of crucifixes, religious bracelets or other religious … artefacts. Qantas staff have a religious belief other than Muslim,” Mrs Sarikoudis claims.

The Ormond woman, who says she wore a crucifix during 19 years at the airline, says she was confronted after Qantas changed its uniforms late last year.

The carrier’s staff dress code — which didn’t change — prohibits visible necklaces and bracelets, except for medical alert purposes.

Women are allowed to wear head scarfs for “cultural, religious and medical reasons”.

The former Melbourne Airport customer service agent claims she was “grilled” about her devotion to her beliefs, her reasons for wanting to wear religious symbols, and even how often she attended church.

She claims other staff — including a woman who wore rosary beads — were ordered to remove jewellery with Christian icons.

Mrs Sarikoudis, who accepted a redundancy offer earlier this year, said she refused to take off or hide the items of jewellery despite months of bullying.

“For Christians, this is our uniform. Everyone should be allowed to manifest their religion as they see fit,” Mrs Sarikoudis said.

In her claim before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Mrs Sarikoudis is demanding the airline change its uniform policy to allow “religious items of significance” to be worn, as well as an apology from her former employer.

A Qantas spokeswoman said the uniform standards didn’t ban religious jewellery worn under the uniform.

“Our uniform standards don’t prohibit employees from wearing religious jewellery,” the spokeswoman said.

“Many of our employees wear such jewellery every day, it’s simply worn under their uniform.

“We give our employees plenty of options so they can continue to wear religious jewellery that is in accordance with the requirement of their faith.

“As with most airlines, employees are required to follow uniform rules and guidelines.

“There has been no change to our uniform standards in relation to religious jewellery since the introduction of the new uniform, but we have reminded employees of what the uniform standards are.”

Christian teacher in Berlin banned from wearing crucifix necklace

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Christian teacher in Berlin banned from wearing crucifix necklace
File photo: DPA.
Berlin’s neutrality law is most often discussed in relation to the Islamic headscarf. But one Christian teacher has found that it applies to other religions as well.

A Protestant teacher working in the Wedding district of Berlin was told to immediately stop wearing her cross necklace, the German Catholic News Agency (KNA) reported on Tuesday.

Consistorial president of the Berlin-Brandenburg Protestant Church Jörg Antoine confirmed last week that the woman had been given the instructions, which were based on Berlin’s neutrality law that prohibits teachers and other public sector workers from wearing religious symbols.

The neutrality law has generally applied to Muslim women who wear a hijab, or headscarf.

Proponents of the law argue that it prevents teachers from religiously influencing their students, the Berliner Morgenpost notes.

But it has also come into question after a 2015 German Constitutional Court ruling found general headscarf bans to be unconstitutional – unless headscarves are found to “constitute a sufficiently specific danger of impairing the peace at school or the state’s duty of neutrality.”

In February, a Muslim teacher in Berlin won nearly €9,000 in compensation for discrimination after she was denied a position at an elementary school due to her headscarf.

But more recently, the European Court of Justice in March upheld employers’ rights to ban religious symbols if there is good reason.

Still, Antoine of the regional Protestant Church said that after the 2015 German Constitutional Court ruling, the Church finds Berlin’s neutrality law to be unconstitutional.

He further insisted that in the case of the Christian teacher, the school should have been less strict. He was supported by Berlin Bishop Markus Dröge.

“We advocate for the freedom to wear a cross,” said Dröge.

Italy school crucifixes ‘barred’

Italian classroom (file photo)

Catholicism stopped being the state religion in Italy in 1984

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against the use of crucifixes in classrooms in Italy.

It said the practice violated the right of parents to educate their children as they saw fit, and ran counter to the child’s right to freedom of religion.

The case was brought by an Italian mother, Soile Lautsi, who wants to give her children a secular education.

The Vatican said it was shocked by the ruling, calling it “wrong and myopic” to exclude the crucifix from education.

The ruling has sparked anger in the largely Catholic country, with one politician calling the move “shameful”.

The Strasbourg court found that: “The compulsory display of a symbol of a given confession in premises used by the public authorities… restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions.”

It also restricted the “right of children to believe or not to believe”, the seven judges ruling on the case said in a statement quoted by AFP news agency.

European identity

Mrs Lautsi complained to the European court that her children had to attend a public school in northern Italy that had crucifixes in every room.

She was awarded 5,000 euros ($7,400; £4,500) in damages.

Vatican spokesman the Rev Federico Lombardi said the European court had no right intervening in such a profoundly Italian matter, the Associated Press reported.

“It seems as if the court wanted to ignore the role of Christianity in forming Europe’s identity, which was and remains essential.”He told Italian TV: “The crucifix has always been a sign of God’s love, unity and hospitality to all humanity.”It is unpleasant that it is considered a sign of division, exclusion or a restriction of freedom.”‘Italian tradition’Many politicians in Italy have reacted angrily.Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini said the crucifix was a “symbol of our tradition”, and not a mark of Catholicism.One government minister called the ruling “shameful”, while another said that Europe was forgetting its Christian heritage.The government says it will appeal against the decision.The BBC’s Duncan Kennedy in Rome says that it is customary in Italy to see crucifixes in public buildings, including schools, despite the constitution saying that there should be a separation of church and state.The law requiring crucifixes to be hung in schools dates back to the 1920s.Although a revised accord between the Vatican and the Italian government ended Catholicism’s position as the state religion in 1984, the crucifix law has never been repealed.Some conservatives have already complained about schools dropping nativity plays to avoid upsetting Muslim children.

Facebook Bans Catholic Ad Featuring Crucifix for Being “Excessively Violent”

by ChurchPOP Editor

@FranciscanU, Twitter

This seems a bit strange.

Franciscan University of Steubenville says Facebook wouldn’t allow them to run a particular ad on Facebook due to it violating their prohibition of ads that are “shocking, sensational, and excessively violent.

The ad in question? It featured a San Damiano crucifix.

Here’s the ad:

@FranciscanU, Twitter

The twitter account for Franciscan University of Steubenville wrote, “An ad we placed was rejected by Facebook today for content that is ‘shocking, sensational, and excessively violent.’ We must agree with them.”

The ad was likely deemed “excessively violent” by either an algorithm automatically or a person whose job it is to view and approve/reject a very large number of ads. In other words, it’s unlikely this represents an anti-Christian bias by Facebook.

Last summer, Facebook shut down a large number of major Catholic pages, mostly in Brazil but also some in the United States, without explanation. After online pressure and in-person lobbying at Facebook offices in Brazil, the pages were restored and Facebook apologized to the Brazilian bishops’ conference. Facebook said the pages were accidentally shut down by an anti-spam detection system, though the fact they seemed to target Catholic pages made the explanation seem less plausible.

European Union

EU Court moves toward a ban on Christians wearing crosses in the workplace

 

This isn’t the headline in most of the UK media, for some reason, which appears to prefer singling out Muslims and hijabs. There’s nothing quite like a bit of Islamomania in a morning to go with your toast and marmalade, is there? ‘Top EU court adviser backs workplace Muslim headscarf ban‘, says the BBC. ‘EU’s top judge backs workplace ban on headscarves‘, writes the Independent. ‘Senior EU lawyer backs workplace ban on Muslim headscarves‘, proclaims the Guardian., above a picture of Muslim women wearing sky-blue burqas (which the Guardian calls a ‘headscarf’) emblazoned with the stars of the EU flag. ‘Top European Union court adviser says employers should be allowed to ban Islamic headscarves‘, says the Evening Standard, while the Express goes with: ‘Bosses can ban Muslims wearing headscarves at work‘.

It’s left to the Telegraph to take a more equitable and accurate approach to headlines: ‘Bosses can ban headscarves and crucifixes, EU judge says‘, they write (noting that ‘crucifix’ sounds a bit meatier than ‘cross’ in the spectrum of hallowed bling). But even this doesn’t extend to kippahs, tichels, turbans or karas. Why not just say: ‘Bosses can ban religious clothing and jewellery in the workplace’? Or does that leave hanging the fuzzy question of facial hair? Should hirsute tendencies be exempt? If so, why?

The legal opinion (HERE in full) was issued by Juliane Kokott, an Advocate General to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), in response to clarification sought by a Belgian court on what precisely is banned under anti-discrimination laws, following the dismissal of a receptionist who refused her employer’s request not to wear her hijab at work.

Samira Achbita worked for G4S, a Belgian security company. She claimed the ban on her wearing a hijab amounted to discrimination on the grounds of her religion, especially since the company had no written dress-code policy asserting any kind of ‘neutrality’. The opinion issued by Juliane Kokott is that such a ban is not discriminatory, provided that the employer prohibits all employees from wearing any articles of religious clothing or other visible symbols. This seems such an obvious argument that it hardly needs a 14,000-word legal opinion to make it. The point is that a ban on wearing a hijab in the workplace may be admissible if the ban is based on a general company rule to ensure “religious and ideological neutrality”: if no religious symbols are permitted, the ethos becomes one of political, religious and philosophical non-expression.

The ECJ will now consider what final guidance to issue, and whether the legal anti-discrimination principle trumps the freedom of religion enshrined in Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. After all, if everyone has “the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”, and that right includes the “freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance”, how can that manifestation practically extend to the public realm but not to the place of employment? Will a Muslim woman walk along the street in a hijab but be required to remove it as she enters through her workplace door? Will a Sikh gentleman be required to unravel his turban and shave on the pavement? We’re not talking about those cases where religious clothing may present an obvious endangerment to health and safety, such as hygiene in hospitals: this is about benign practice and observance. You can see millions of euros now heading toward lawyers’ coffers as they argue whether hijabs, turbans and beards are mandatory observances, while crosses and crucifixes are nothing but expendable trinkets.

But Advocate General Kokkot offers an interesting comparative point:

While an employee cannot ‘leave’ his sex, skin colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or disability ‘at the door’ upon entering his employer’s premises, he may be expected to moderate the exercise of his religion in the workplace, be this in relation to religious practices, religiously motivated behaviour or (as in the present case) his clothing.

Setting aside the contentious science/religion nature/nurture dispute over whether sexual orientation is innate and fixed or moral choice and mutable, is she saying that a Sikh may not wear a kara, and a Muslim may not wear a hijab, but a gay person may wear (say) a rainbow bracelet, pink-power T-shirts or a Terence Higgins Trust lapel badge? If “discrimination may be justified in order to enforce a policy of religious and ideological neutrality”, why does that extend only to religious clothing and jewellery? In order to ban hijabs, is an employer not also obliged to ban the wearing of poppies or ‘end-cancer-now’ advocacy jewellery? Surely a ban founded on a general rule must be applied generally? If employers are no longer to be required to show flexibility in matters of political or philosophical expression, or in religious manifestation, why should they tolerate any employee who manifests or expresses anything political, philosophical or religious which contravenes the ‘neutrality’ (which is no neutrality at all) of the secular, apolitical, amoral workplace?

And what if religious belief is no more a matter of choice than sex, ethnicity or sexuality? There is a considerable body of evidence in the field of cognitive science which suggests that the propensity toward religious belief may be genetic and inescapable. This being so, the mandatory demand to renounce or deny a cultural manifestation of that innate belief becomes an offence to identity and diversity.

Juliane Kokott’s legal opinion is not binding on the ECJ, but the Court does tend to take such opinions very seriously and rule in accordance with them. It certainly gives an indication of how the EU’s supreme court will rule in similar cases from now on, which ought not to surprise us: indeed, it ought to spur us on toward ever-further Brexit. How long before the Established Church is ruled discriminatory? How long before the Monarch’s Coronation Oath is ruled inequitable? How long before Bibles are banned from state schools under the guise of political, philosophical and religious ‘neutrality’?

The EU is a product of secular Enlightenment idealism. It is becoming aggressively anti-Christian because it is pathologically anti-religious, under the guise of rationalism and an assertion of the necessary truths of reason. It is intolerant of the Cross of Christ and the Star of David because it cannot brook any revelation which might challenge its infallible and immutable creeds. Human rights and equality and are its archai kai exousiai. In order to guard the European Union from Islamification, it has to eradicate the residues of Christendom, for that is equitable and ‘neutral’. If we remain subject to its legal authority, we will witness a prohibition upon Christians not to worship in private, for that is guaranteed by the Charter, but to walk in spirit and in truth, for the gospel is a scandal and the Cross an offence.

While politicians wrangle over issues of economics and hypnotise us with how the merchants of the earth may or may not trade, we are being taken captive by judicial activism. The prophetic vision is blurred by the political reality. The EU is no community of faith: it is no home to Christian values or sacred virtues. Vote to remain on 23rd June, and it will mean the end of centuries of hard-won rights and incrementally-gained liberties. The witness of history cries out.

Nun Sentenced to Death by Hitler’s Nazi Jewish Court for hanging crucifixes

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