Friday, November 24, 2006

We all have our cross to bear, or even bare

As a lifelong convinced and devout atheist, I will defend to the death the right of people whom Richard Dawkins calls deluded, i.e. believers, to wear what they like in private and at work, if it doesn't stop them from doing their jobs. I imagine, for example, that a Sikh's headgear makes it difficult to head a ball in football or to model new hairstyles or to wear a fighter-pilot's helmet, but otherwise I can see no problem. Certainly British Airways are making utter fools of themselves by demanding that a stewardess does not wear a cross or at least bare a cross (they say it's all right if you can't see it !)

Liberalism has its roots in freedom of religious belief and worship. Like many Liberals I would prefer a separation of church and state, but the French who don't understand liberalism, have taken separation to mean that children cannot wear religious symbols at school. This idea has surprisingly only occurred to them since large numbers of Muslim children started attending French state schools. Before that, the Ministere de l'Education hadn't notice dthat crosses were religious symbols.

Jack Straw's offence is worse, far worse. He objects to Muslim women wearing the Hijab when they come to his surgery. He said it made him uncomfortable. Liberal MP Jo Swinson's response was spot on. She said it was her job to make her constituents comfortable when they bring their problems to her.

Meanwhile I defy any dirigist, Blairite or Gaullist, attempt to prevent me wearing my holey dressing-gown during my devotions between 10.00 and 11.15 am on Sunday morning.

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