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With its crusade against crucifixes, our Government is doing a good job of destroying British culture

What a sad contrast with Italy

By on Monday, 12 March 2012

A schoolgirl in Twickenham waits for the Pope with a crucifix and Vatican flag (PA photo)

A schoolgirl in Twickenham waits for the Pope with a crucifix and Vatican flag (PA photo)

Crucifixes and crosses are back in the news. You may remember the case of British Airways worker Nadia Eweida and the similar case of the nurse Shirley Chaplin.

Well, it now seems that this question – that of the right to wear a crucifix or cross at work – has been fought all the way to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and that our own Government has taken sides and is arguing against the right of the two women to wear crucifixes. The Telegraph has the story. I am not quite sure how the legal system works, but it seems strange that the Government should be involved in this, particularly when it is trying to save money. Why should the government be anything other than neutral in this?

This matter reminds me of a similar case in Italy about 10 years ago. A certain Adel Smith demanded that the crucifix on the classroom wall of his son’s school should be removed. Mr Smith is half-Scottish and half-Egyptian, but has an Italian passport, and is a convert to Islam. He became notorious for his campaign of vilification against the Catholic Church, and the crucifix in particular. There was a time when he seemed to be on every television chatshow. However, his campaign backfired, largely because most Italians, even if not religious, do not like being told what to do by people like Mr Smith, and they deeply dislike legalism of any kind. Mr Smith has recently been sentenced to five years in jail on a charge of forgery. The Union of Italian Muslims, which he headed, is supposed to have had not the many thousands of adherents that he claimed, but a mere two signed up members.

One can read about Mr Smith and his campaign here (in Italian). Two famous Italians had this to say on the case, and I translate their words. One was Vittorio Feltri, a well-known journalist: “A guy comes into your house, settles into an armchair, helps himself from the fridge, uses your bathroom, and instead of thanking you for your hospitality, orders you to take that thing down from the wall. Whatever the thing is, it is up to me whether it stays on the wall or comes down.” The other was Umberto Eco, who said: “I invite Adel Smith, and other intolerant fundamentalists, to understand and accept the customs of the country of which they are guests.”

Pretty stern stuff from two leading cultural icons. As for the population as a whole, numerous Italians made a point of dusting down old crucifixes, setting up new ones, including, if memory serves, a huge three-metre-high one in the village of Ofena where Mr Smith lived, and proclaiming “Il crocefisso non si tocca!” (“Hands off the crucifix!”). Italians, you see, not only do not like being told what to do by lawyers, they also love their culture and want to preserve it, and the display of the crucifix is part of that culture.

Which brings us to the sad contrast presented by our own Government and intellectuals. If you had sat down and worked out a plan how best to destroy British culture, you could not do a better job than the Coalition is currently doing, or indeed the previous government did before them.

But maybe Mr Cameron and his friends should study the case of Adel Smith. And bear in mind the famous dictum of Chesterton:

Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget;
For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.

  • daclamat

    Excellent non story. Should raise a hackle or too. We’ve got a simple neo-conservative-sort-of catholic called Freisinger in Switzerland who is about to launch a referendum against Moslem women wearing the Burkha in public: estimates vary between 100 -150 in the whole of the country, enough to fill a bendy bus, who weasr the thing, compared to a few thousand nuns who go in for even crazier fancy dress. But if he tries to get it into law, a few thousand kids will buy themselves the kit.  We also have a very user friendly bishop in Coire,who has ordered his pastoral letter to be read in the whole of his diocese, saying let’s been be mean to remarried couple’s and refuse them the sacraments, against the wishes of every bishop in the land. By this shall men know that you are my disciples……
    Actually the sight of a man nailed to planks is abhorrent to decent people who have not been in enured to what is fundamentally an obscenity. Try swinging a doll by the neck, or doing a pretence disembowelling, to honour an English martyr, and you’ll have people vomiting in the streets. That’ll give a fair idea of what decent people, albeit not catholic, think.

  • Bob Hayes

    Oh dear, another rambling troll.

  • Anonymous

    the best kind!

  • BTyler

    Why not organize your thoughts before posting? 

  • Anonymous

    Let’s hope that the intolerant move by this present UK government fails in a similar way.  I for one have not worn a cross up to now but I have a small cross lapel badge somewhere and I’m going to get it out and wear it now in protest.

  • John Byrne

    Fr Lucie-Smith misguidedly and misleadingly writes:
    “Why should the government be anything other than neutral in this?” and in doing so encourages the type of comment made by Cestius, and doubtless others which will follow. 

    The fact is that the British government IS totally neutral. It is NOT seeking to allow the crucifix to be banned. The Telegraph way of reporting this issue is also designed to create this impression.

    The government is simply asking the Court to agree that the crucifix, for Christians, does not fall into the same category as, for example, the kirpan or the turban does for orthodox Sikhs. The government case is that the Christian religions do not require Christians to wear a cross as an essential part of their religion. That is all.  This is the TOTAL degree of government involvement in the issue.

    There is not one iota of intolerance in the government’s position.

  • Anonymous

    The beast with the ten horns is the European Union, My daughter, referred to as Babylon in the Book of Revelation.
    Babylon will fall and be dominated by the big Red Dragon, China and its ally the Bear, Russia.
    When this happens communism will rule and woe to anyone seen to practice their religion in their presence.
    All religions will be banned but Christians will suffer the biggest persecution.
    Roman Catholics will not be tolerated at all and they will have to hold masses in secret.

    Look for “The Warning Second Coming”

  • John Byrne

    Gosh !

  • Oconnord

    Further to say it was the Christian Legal Centre who brought this case to an international court, on behalf of their christian clients.

  • Bob Hayes

    John, I suggest you re-read what you have written. 
    Para. 3: ‘The government is simply asking the Court to agree that the crucifix, for Christians, does not fall into the same category as, for example, the kirpan or the turban does for orthodox Sikhs.’By asking the court to rule to this effect the government is seeking a decision that allows employers to ban the wearing of crucifixes in the workplace. Therefore your claim that, ‘It is NOT seeking to allow the crucifix to be banned.’ is simply wrong. 

  • Jamie Macnab

    I do not understand why Mr Cameron made a comment at all.  If he had been asked about the matter, he ought to have replied, “No comment,”  just as these things were always dealt with.

  • daclamat

    The lad’s got to make a living, John. Be kind to struggling scribblers. Do you remember a decade or so ago when Sikhs  got themselves a lot of free publicity over wearing tcrash helmets. The issue seems to be more about mice breaking wind

  • daclamat

    Not sure whether this is Beatrix Potter, Enid Blighton or Harry Potter exegesis. Perhaps the Dandy or Beano. Two silly show offs wearing crosses doesn’t sound too apocalyptic. 

  • Honeybadger

    During the Nazi era, Jews were made to wear the yellow Magen David (the correct name for the Star of David) sewn onto their clothes. If they didn’t, they would be arrested.

    The Nazis didn’t last long.

    In old film footage of the Russian Revolution, you can see the Orthodox Crosses being brutally torn off churches and thrown onto the ground like pieces of excrement.

    During the era of the communist – atheist Iron Curtain, Lithuanian people planted crucifixes on what became the Hill of Crosses.

    The more the bulldozers tried to destroy the Hill, the more crucifixes were placed, the bulldozers came and did their wicked job and more crucifixes replaced those that were destroyed and the cycle ran on and on until…

    The Iron Curtain fell like a pack of cards. Blessed Pope John Paul II visited Lithuania and placed a cross on that same hill.

    It’s still there, whilst statues of Lenin and Stalin were torn down off their plinths.

    The churches that were made into stables and storage spaces are resplendant and shining with icons, crucifixes and standing-room-only worshippers.

    The devil hates the crucifix. This is why any report like this that appears in the papers or any other media makes my blood run ice cold.

    Those who waste their brains on this carry on clearly live in a bubble, not utilising their brains and go to the stonemasons for their heart problems - when they should be working out how to keep people in employment, kick start the economy and respect people who are less perfect physically and mentally.

    Good on the Italians! They’ve got backbone and I’ll have ”Il crocefisso non si tocca!” emblazoned on a t-shirt!

    I’ve been wearing my gold crucifix since 1987… and I ain’t taking it off… FOR NO-ONE!

  • Honeybadger

    So do I, Cestius.

    It’s high time we Roman Catholics search into the back of our spiritual cupboards and unpack those gifts of the Holy Spirit we received at our Confirmation… and wear our crucifixes outside our clothes.

  • Honeybadger

    Our Blessed Lady has warned us and warned us about these things down the years.

    People, take your rosaries from round your necks and PRAY THEM!

    David slew Goliath with a sling and a stone. The Holy Rosary is our sling with plenty of stones.

  • Honeybadger

    You are one sick individual.

  • Honeybadger

    In the UN Declaration of Human Rights, people have a right to expression of religion, to conscience, to worship.

    Wearing a crucifix IS an expression of religion.

    Thanks to The Daily Telegraph, we know that most MPs etc. are not true public servants but a bunch of thieving, grasping, selfish ………. (insert your own words here) who have ripped off the British Taxpayer to the tune of more money than all the benefit fraudsters put together. Both involve stealing, which is wrong 

    Yet MPs are not starving but people on the breadline of benefits are.

    I trust the DT and ST as well as the CH.

  • daclamat

    Good for you! Be brave. Stand up for your faith, whatever that is (pss! mightn’t it be credulity?) Do you by any chance have a spare miraculous medal? Or one of those Sacred Hearts we had pinned to our libertty bodice during the war. We couldn’t afford an Anderson shelter, but combined they reinforced the kitchen table during air raids.  
    I notice on European roads hundreds of thousands of cars with rosaries dangling from mirrors, or plastic virgins with skewed head-dress, presumably a nossa Senhora da Fatima. Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis. Cheaper than taking driving lessons. Anyone for a scapular? It does seem unfair that the Virgin’s attention was distracted during the Darfur massacres, and St Paul should really have a word with her about Damascus which he knew pretty well. 
    Personally, I think people in Lourdes should do the decent thing and take their turn. 
    The church’s PR machine  has managed to divert attention from centuries of genocide, ethnic cleansing, burnings at the stake, so it should be able manage this assault on its credibility.
    It does seem a bit of a waste taking this nonsense to the European Court of Human Rights. Much better using a shoe scraper.
    I’m a bit jaundiced, I must admit, after thirty years in international relief work. Put it down to post traumatic stress disorder.
    I did wear a cross of course, on my person. a huge red one on my vehicle, on our roof; many of my friends wore them too, but they seem to have been used for target practice.Being a coward I did sometimes slip it into my pocket.  Now why do you think its symbolism was devalued? We often hung it with a red crescent too. Now there’s a thought!
    Stick to your cross on your lapel. Or as the man said…..

  • Brian A. Cook

    No thank you.  I prefer not to subscribed to conspiracy theories.  Incidentally, the Soviet Union collapsed over twenty years ago. 

  • Anonymous

    “Actually the sight of a man nailed to planks is abhorrent to decent people who have not been in enured to what is fundamentally an obscenity.”

    ## Excellent point. There was nothing decorous or decent about crucifixion – which is precisely why it is so important to faith in Christ; if death on a cross had not been so foul, accursed, disgraceful, shocking & blasphemous, it would not have shown the Love of God for the lowest of the low anything like as well. Christ was not just a servant; that is far too tame a word – he died as human trash, in company with other human trash. Slaves in Roman law were not legal persons, and had no rights. The offensiveness, disgustingness, rejection & unholiness of His Death is central to the meaning of the Cross. If it not offensive – then it should be.

    Crucifixion, the slaves’ death, was so far from being the kind of thing one discussed in decent society, that there is hardly any non-Christian discussion of it – Cicero mentions the word in a speech, and apologises to his hearers for doing so. Martin Hengel’s book on it is superb (as well as sickening):

  • Amytennant

    If we can’t wear a cross around our necks because it’s ‘offensive’ maybe the cross should be taken of our flag.

  • John Smith

    If your employer asks you not to wear the cross, may I suggest instead wearing a pendant depicting the flag of England.  For greatest effect, select the flag of the North of England, which has the vertical stripe offset in Scandinavian format, and have the pendant oriented with the long side vertical as depicted in the link, below.  Let’s see your employer, then, ban your from wearing the flag of England.

  • wake up call

    We need to wake up as Catholics and Christians….

    Our forefathers in the faith fought to gain and enshrine our Christian  freedoms in the culture  and laws of this Christian nation.

    Gradually we are being put more and more on the backfoot by the media  establishment and the secular humanist lobby and opinion makers . A false caricature of the Church is put up as quaint retrogressive and past its sell by date.

    This Lent I have taken to wearing  a visible crucifix in public places. We need to wear our badge of faith with pride. The meaning of the Cross is the same as ever…Jesus the Son of God has died for our sins once and for all…we have to turn from all the destructive forces in our lives… we are offered new life in him . This is the most challenging message in the world today.

    Wear the cross with pride and faith….we need to stop being anonymous and nice.

  • ms Catholic state

    In the next UK general election….Catholics must put up independant Catholic candidates along the lines of Santorum in the US. This will give a voice to the voiceless of Britain. 
    After all….we Catholics (and others) vote and support those that are in power now, who then refuse to represent us.

  • John Byrne

    Nobody, absolutely nobody, is “banning crucifixes”.

    It is the case that some employers and some organisations have dress-codes. These include persons fronting the public in their work such as those at airline check-in desks, the police, the armed forces ….etc. .
    Employees are obliged, by their contracts of employment which they have agreed and signed, to observe the dress codes. A soldier etc. would be ordered to. 

    If the dress code runs counter to the requirements of the individual’s particular religion, whatever that might be, the Law normally requires the religious requirements to take  precedence. 

    The government believes that the wearing of a crucifix is not a requirement of the Christian religion. It is asking the Court for confirmation of its belief.

    That is all. And nothing more.

  • Bob Hayes

    You state above, ‘
    The government believes that the wearing of a crucifix is not a requirement of the Christian religion. It is asking the Court for confirmation of its belief’. Would you agree that if the government is successful this will amount to a ‘permissive’ ruling for employers? If so, then it will be lawful for employers to adopt dress codes that ban the wearing of crucifixes.

  • John Byrne

    Please see my reply to Bob Hayes, below.

  • James H

    A random, illiterate troll, to boot!

  • James H

    centuries of genocide? This from an atheist?

    Doctor, heal thyself.

    I think I’m going to haul out a crucifix, myself. I’ve got a Mt. Carmel badge somewhere, too.

  • Charles Martel

    Because he’s chasing the Pink Vote and the Christian vote all at the same time. Remember he said a few months ago that Britain was a Christian country and ought to be proud of it? Now he does this! Unprincipled smarmy Public Relations scumbag.

  • Charles Martel


  • Charles Martel

    And why the hell should the government go to the trouble of asking a court to agree to this? Pile of rot. No sick British government should ever be heeded by Christians when it attempts to interfere in our business.

  • Edmund Burke

    How very true.

  • Edmund Burke

    What an excellent point to make. All three crosses in the case of the Union Flag.

  • Edmund Burke

    Very well said.

  • ConfofChi

    Don’t’ worry Fr. A, Dave’s BIG SOCIETY will bring everyone together as a true nation once again!!

  • MRF Thorne

    “Roman Catholics will not be tolerated at all and they will have to hold masses in secret.”  (comment from Jackson1961). I fear we are heading for this situation regardless of Communist invasions: once the Coalition government (or its probable Labour successor) start interfering with the way we celebrate the sacraments, all in aid of equality regulation, enforcing on us same-sex marriages, legislating in favour of the ordaining of women and openly gay priests (as they will do), expanind gthe range of Christians or remarraiged Cartholics who must be allowed their “right” to recevie Communioni, we will either or have to set up a mock “puppet” Church as exists in China, or the True and Holy Church will need to become a subterranean organisation. We must prepare to be the Church Militant, and the time for that preparation ought to commence now. 

  • MRF Thorne

    “Roman Catholics will not be tolerated at all and they will have to hold masses in secret.” (comment from Jackson1961).
     I fear that situation will come upon irrespective of any Communist invasions. Once the Coalition government (or its probable Labour successor)  bring in “equality” legislation that interferes with the way that we are able to celebrate the Sacraments (as will happen), enforcing upon us same-sex marriages, the ordaining of women and openly gay priests, and then deciding that Christians and remarried Catholics must be allowed to receive Communion, the True and Holy Church is going to have to go underground, or we will become like China with a “puppet” mock Church that simply has to pander to the government of the day. We are going to have to become a more militant Church, and the hour for making preparations is already upon us. 

  • daclamat

    Thanks. Jesus had insults hurled at him. Sticks and stones, and so on.  What in heavens name is a honey badger: some sort of decerebrated life form? Seems that intelligent discourse doesn’t  go down well. Rennies are more effective than insults.

  • John Byrne

    You ask:
    “And why the hell should the government go to the trouble of asking a court to agree to this?”

    The government is seeking the Court’s decision on this question because it wishes to ensure that its view, any actions and decisions it might take and the advice it might give to employers and others conforms to the Law.

  • John Byrne

    My comment to which you refer includes :
    “It is asking the Court for confirmation of its belief”. 
    On re-reading, I think it would have been more accurate for me to have written : ” It is asking the Court for confirmation, or otherwise, of its belief”.

    You then write (more than a little mischievously) “If so, then it will be lawful for employers to adopt dress codes that ban the wearing of crucifixes.”
    Not necessarily. Of course, as I’m sure you know, the dress code question concerns a variety of badges, items of jewellery and similar tokens. The dress codes in question do not allow a wide range of such items.
    If it were the case (and it is not) that crucifixes were being targeted as a special or unique case, then I believe that the matter could be taken back to the Court. But this is not the situation that we are facing. 

    In common with all items of dress pertaining to other religions, if the Court rules that display of a crucifix is a requirement of the Christian religion then employers etc would be obliged to allow it.

  • South Saxon

    David Cameron proclaimed that this was a Christian country, one that “cherishes faith”. Now, he is refusing protection for those who wear the cross to work; he is destroying institutions and removing benefits from the most vulnerable; and he is proposing “marriage” between homosexuals. His understanding of Christianity is not the same as that of anyone of faith.

  • Bob Hayes

    You appear to be bending over backwards to argue that, ‘the British government IS totally neutral’ – your first post. Seeking a court decision is not a neutral act: decisions of the ECHR require compliance. The government’s so-called neutrality will lead to a decision that can be relied upon in the courts of all signatories to the convention. 

    If the government view is upheld by the ECHR, Christians in many countries will be very alarmed. Conversely, if the decision favours Chaplin and Eweida, various employers will be disgruntled at having to accommodate a Christian symbol alongside other signs of faith that the courts have ruled exempt from employers’ dress codes. 

    The government stance is not neutral: it has joined the fray. This seems rather at odds with Cameron’s claim to want more power for the UK Parliament and less for courts.

  • John Byrne

    Well the European Court does have competence on this issue (whether we like it or not – and I don’t particularly).
    But I don’t think the government in the UK cares one way or another about the Court’s decision.
    I do agree though that it seems the government is inclined to the view that wearing the crucifix is not a requirement of the Christian religion. 
    I think most Christians (they make up most of the government after all) incline to the same view.

    Most of the indignation from some Christians arises because they misunderstand the issue. This is not surprising given the quite deliberate degree of misrepresentation it has suffered – sometimes, sadly, from ordained members of the Church.

  • John Byrne

    I hold no brief for Communism.
    But, in England, it was other Christians who caused Catholics to have to hold Masses in secret, and who were very intolerant of Catholics.

    The senior cleric of what began life as ‘ a “puppet” mock Church’ , and which gave rise to the aforesaid intolerance, has just been invited by the Pope to address a meeting of Catholic Bishops. This would have amazed “traditional” church-people in the sixteenth century. All institutions, including the Catholic Church, evolve and change. It is a sign of life, no less.

    Mr Thorne does the Church and its followers much disservice when he suggests that Catholics should not “pander” to the government and talks of making preparations for militancy. Catholics and the Catholic Church are surely law-abiding?

  • Honeybadger

    You are definitely a piece of work, aren’t you?

    Wearing our crosses has nothing whatsoever to do with PR from churches or whatever your skewed intellect (ha! Ha!) dreams up.

    Mock all you like, sunshine… and I bet my boots that you have a fish sticker on the back of your car with feet on it!

    I thought that those skips on wheels with those sorry excuse for fishes was a protest against genetic modification … until I read on one with the legend’Darwin’ and another ‘Fish… and chips.’

    Whereas we Catholics have rosaries and other sacramentals on the FRONT of our cars, the fish-with-feet are on the backs of cars.

    Dawkins and Darwin may make a monkey out of you… but not us!

  • Honeybadger

    Exactly! That’s how ill-thought and ludicrous this whole debating-the-cross issue is!

    On the British flag, there is one cross for Saint Andrew, one cross for Saint Patrick (placed onto the Union Flag in 1801) and one cross for Saint George.

    The oldest recognised national flag in the world is Denmark… and they have a white cross on a red background.

  • Honeybadger

    Indeed, it is an excellent point to make.

    But I wonder what would replace those crosses? Has anybody with even a fraction of a brain thought of that?

    The hammer and sickle, perhaps? The crescent and star? No, wait up! I’ve got it!

    A fish with legs!

  • Honeybadger

    Thank you, dear friend.

    I always speak from the heart on these boards.

    To illustrate the stupidity of this government, millions of people will be ‘offensive’ this Diamond Jubilee year, at the London Olympics and Wimbledon.


    Crosses will be waved everywhere… on flags, for instance.

    I noticed how some Wimbledon players (especially from Eastern Europe) openly wear their crosses on court.  Long may that continue and nobody will DARE tell them any different!