The BA Cross Story

I’ve been fairly hushed about the story of the banning of the cross around the neck of the BA employee. Generally, as I’ve said before, I think that people should be allowed to wear what they like, but does that work in this case?

In some ways I don’t think it does. Uniform is uniform. I don’t tend to like people making statements with badges, medals, red noses, poppies (of one colour or another), ribbons (of one colour or another) or wristbands with liturgical gear (choir robes, copes, servers kit etc). I’d rather they were worn with street clothes than uniform clothes. The point about a uniform is to make us all to some degree less visible as individuals and sometimes that is a good thing. No doubt some people will find that harsh. (Just as they find my delight in black shoes being worn by everyone on duty incomprehensible). I’ve been thinking about it since first beginning to wear liturgical dress of one outlandish form or another since the age of five or six.

I found my sympathies departing from Miss Eweida when I heard her being interviewed and insisting that she had the right to wear the cross because it was important to her to be witnessing to the passengers. I think I’d rather not be witnessed to by a member of check-in staff when about to fly. Flying is bad enough.


  1. Hmmm. You’re the first person I’ve seen to view it this way around.

    Different, and I agree about “witnessing to the passengers” (I don’t particularly want proselytising, least of all on a plane) but I’m not sure I agree with your conclusion.
    A cross need not be particularly outlandish; many people wear them, some of whom don’t even regard themselves as christian (heirloom, etc), and who’s going to ask their motives before declaring it still a religious symbol?

    It’s unfortunate that this has come about with someone who sees the cross as her witness, but if this stands, companies will be allowed to have discriminatory uniform policies, and it doesn’t matter who the parties are, it’s just discrimination whichever way I cut it; all the more so when it leads to *a society* in which one hides from others rather than embracing them.

  2. kelvin says

    As I understand it, the BA uniform policy has applied to all jewelry hanging around someone’s neck. It would not be fun to get one’s Cross, Crescent, Star of David or string of pearls caught in the check-in machinery.

    It is interesting that the principle sign of Christian membership in most parts of the various churches is essentially ephemeral – baptism by its very nature is invisible in material form once performed.

    When I was in Egypt, I was quite impressed with the tattoos that many Christians had done in order to identify themselves to one another. At more than one Christian gathering I went to, the locals were vetted at the door by showing their tattoos – the presumption being that no member of any group that the Church people were frightened of would ever have a cross tattooed on their skin.

  3. Anonymous says

    Yes, you’re quite right. A uniform is a uniform. If one absolutely wanted to wear something other than a uniform at work, then joining the Army mightn’t be the best place for me.

    Similarly, if joining the BA ranks implies wearing a uniform, and I insist on wearing some additional contraption, then , patently, possibly a position without a uniform would be better. Possibly as a clergy person?! That is if I were a compulsive proselytiser.

    Anent compulsive proselytising. There is this church building on the facade of which a sign threatens one and all with everlasting hell fire. No doubt those of that congregation consider it to be their loving duty so to do. However, to my mind, it is a most egregious assault on the urban landscape … and myself, every time I have cause to walk by.

    Yes. Yours is a most refreshing viewpoint. All the more so as it comes from within the ranks of the clergy. Possibly a reason why I’ve kept on coming back to this your blog…

    All the very best,

    Clyde Lad

  4. The real problem is that BA’s policy is inconsistent: turbans are allowed, hijabs are allowed and apparently Hindu bangles are allowed.

    For a uniform policy to be reasonable I think it either has to allow all, or allow none. I’m not fussed which they choose, but consistency is important.

  5. I think the difference between turbans, hajibs and bangles are the difference between a requirement of following a particular faith (or, rather, a conservative branch of a particular faith as with the hajob and the bangle), or a desire because of one’s faith. A cross is worn out of choice, rather than a requirement of orthodoxy.

    I talked a little about this in the sermon this morning – on a day where the church celebrates the feast of Christ the King, surely a greater sign of being a member of that Kingdom, or a follower of Christ, is the way in which we treat this planet given into our care and all who inhabit it, rather than becoming sidetracked in petty bickering about which poppy is the most Christian or the “right” to wear a cross at work regardless of uniform policy.

  6. “A cross is worn out of choice, rather than a requirement of orthodoxy.”

    I’m not sure that this is a difference that removes the inconsistency from BA’s uniform policy. Whether or not the turban, hijab or bangle is perceived as a ‘requirement’ of membership of a faith, it is still my choice whether or not to observe it.

    This is not to say that I think Ms Ewelda has taken the best course of action. My personal view is that she has made a mistake – instead of a greater witness, she has contributed to the perception of Christians as petty and whinging. I may have my differences with Paul(!) but I think his “Greek to the Greek, Jew to the Jew” approach has a lot to be said for it.

    But our disagreement with her position on how crucial to the Christian life is the wearing of the cross doesn’t change the fact that the policy applied treats her differently from members of other faiths.

  7. Mysterious stranger says

    I am with you on this one.I do not like all the badges,ribbons,bands etc with uniforms.I also felt extremely uncomfortable with yesterdays interview.She has been offered the right to wear the cross on her lapel not round her neck.She can wear it inside her uniform and go with the lapel badge.

    Her fundamentalism grated.Sorry.

Speak Your Mind