April 18, 2011

Housing Association disciplines worker over palm cross

by Jan Harris

A long-serving employee of Wakefield and District Housing is facing disciplinary action because he refused to remove a palm cross from his company van.

Colin Atkinson, an electrician who works on the organisation’s houses, says he has always displayed the cross on the dashboard of his vehicle.

He was asked to remove it after a tenant submitted a written complaint.

Although Mr Atkinson may now forced to attend a disciplinary hearing, he remains adamant that he will not remove the cross and says he is prepared to lose his job over the issue.

The Housing Association introduced a policy last year forbidding employees to display personal items in its vehicles.

However it does allow Mr Atkinson’s boss, Denis Doody, to diplay a poster of communist revolutionary Che Guevara in his office.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has spoken out in support of Mr Atkinson, saying:

‘I salute Mr Atkinson for his bravery and all Christians who quietly stand up for their faith.

‘If Muslims and Sikhs can display symbols of their faiths, such as wearing headscarves and turbans, then surely Christians should be allowed to display a cross.’

Last month the European Court of Human Rights found that displaying Crucifixes in schools in Italy does not breach the rights of non-Catholics.

The ruling was welcomed by the Vatican who said it was historic and important.

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