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Page last updated at 09:22 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 10:22 UK
Crucifix ruling at Devon hospital - have your say here
Shirley Chaplin and crucifix
Shirley Chaplin and the crucifix at the centre of the case

A Christian nurse moved to a desk job after refusing to remove her crucifix at work has lost a discrimination claim against her employers.

Shirley Chaplin, from Exeter, had argued the cross "ban" prevented her from expressing her religious beliefs.

But an employment tribunal ruled that the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospitals NHS Trust, where she worked, had acted in a reasonable manner.

Mrs Chaplin said it was a "very poor day" for Christians in the workplace.

Have your say on this story using the form below. This messageboard is pre-moderated.

This messageboard is now closed.

And you can listen to Shirley Chaplin responding to some of the messages below, by using the audio link.

I think that nurse should wear the necklace because its part of her religion its part of who they are and i think its discriminating against christians which i believe, if someone told me to take my scarf off i would never do this and i also would find this affence to me personally it would hurt alot because of what i believe in.
Asma, Leicester

The British authorities are frightened of muslims. They are not afraid of Christians. That's the difference.
Chris, Exeter

What an apalling waste of money for the cash strapped NHS. Not only this ridiculous tribunal, but the money and resources that went into Nurse Chaplin's training. I for one, am glad that I wont have to be treated by such as her should I be admitted to RD&E - can't think of anything worse than having someone else's religious mania rammed down my throat at any time, let alone while ill enough to be in hospital.
Viv, Holsworthy

I think the people that are looking at this case as discrimation against people wearing religious artifacts at work, are possibly missing the point. If you look at the case the Hospital hasn't said that she is unable to wear "a cross". They have stated it is against the uniform policy to wear "a necklace". I may be being simplistic but where is the problem there. I admit health and safety regulations, do go too far, however we all have to work by them. To try and claim that this uniform regulations is anything more than a result of the nanny culture we have created, is simply niave.
Alex, Manchester

Dear Nurse, you say it is essential for your faith as a Christian and so I suppose you belong to a sect which states you worship symbols? God's son Jesus did not ask you to wear a symbol to follow him. Follow Him , follow Him give your life to Him...it does not say wear a cross for him and get ytourself lots of sympathy as you are hard done by [in your humble opinion only by the way!] You say to be a Christain you need to wear a cross around your neck. Where do you get such facts from as I have read every age of my Bible and it does not say that anywhere! As a retired nurse due to being seriously ill with a rare condition I cannot wear jewellery due to medical equipment. If you are a Christian and you have a tracheostomy does this mean you are no longer a Christian because you cannot have a piece of jewellery which is a man made icon around your neck? No of course it doesn't! If you have a long line and the edge of your dressing catches on jewellery does this mean god no longer loves you? NO NO NO!!!!!! If you are in ICU and are a Christian and the staff have tio take your jewellery off does God stop loving you and you HIM ? NO! So when at work you out of all people who say you are a Christian you should obey..obey God and follow Him, declare your faith through actions in your attitude which at the moment is appalling and believe wehat you like, Do not assume anybody else will want to know you as you have stuck up a right fuss and are actually going against Christ's teachings. Christ did not fuss or draw attention to himself like you are. grow up and act in faith that God will still love you and you can wear your cross in your heart and in your pocket as a simple reminder to YOU that you are a Christian. You are still loved and will be but by breaking rules and standing out in an immature manner is NOT and never will be following Christ in an unassuming manner. You are enjoying the limelight unlike Christ's teachings and unlike Christ himself. We will pray you see god's love outside of icons asap.
Peggy, Devon

Will they stop sheik doctors wearing turbans,i don't think so, yet is that not a show of ones faith,the trouble is all these hospital managers think they are god and they should be the only ones that anyone should worship.
Ian, France

hmm how Christian is this Christian if she thinks that the wearing of a cross is more important than her care for her patients.
Rosie, Devon

The dress you wear at work and what you do should be governed strictly by the requirements of the job. Therefore Muslims should not be allowed to wear a burqa while nursing, or to refuse to cover their arms in an operating theatre ("bare to the elbows is the rule") or to refuse to use antiseptic hand wash because it contains alcohol. But will the rules be enforced as strictly upon them as they are upon this Christian lady? We'll see...
Bill Bates, London

She could wear the crucifix under her uniform dress. The uniform code says no jewellry. I am a Catholic and wouldn't want to wear anything that dangled in front of a patient.
John, Bodmin

Disgraceful decision. Yet again shows that Christianty is under attack in our country. These people will only be happy when they have erdicated it from our society. Beware... Christians are waking up to the fact that we are under attack so ecpect lots of resistance !!
Doug, Leeds

I think it's absolutely ridiculous that this woman has taken a dress code as a personal insult to her faith. There is a reason why necklaces aren't to be worn. It's not discrimination at all, typical that religion is interfering yet again.
S, Midlands

No jewellery axcept a wedding ring is normal policy and was almost certainly what Shirly Chaplin would have been taught when trained so she has chosen to ignore the rules. Lanyards for id cards are designed to break when pulled. And as for the tired old complaint of uniformed nurses seen on streets, have you ever heard of district nurses and intermediate care nurses ? My wife can visit 8 or more patents a day in their homes. Should she change into her uniform each time she goes into someone's house and back into civies before she leaves ?
Paul, Ipswich

Have her sign a disclaimer and be done with it. I am a nurse and even though I am spiritual rather than religious, I still choose to wear a symbol on my chain for the emotional and spiritual comfort that it brings to me. i for one would sign a disclaimer that says "i've read your contract but wish to take responsibility for my safety in this aspect thankyouverymuch, and no, I won't SUE you if I get strangled.to bring me back to the point that I initially wish to make that most health and safety regulations however sound and evidenced based they might be can be twisted around to say its for staff welfare rather than as protection against being sued. I work with offenders in the acute stage of their illness, mainly psychosis, and have never yet been attacked through my chain in 10 years. Doesn't the fact that I'm conscious of whats happening and good risk assessment and management have anything to to with it ?
O.K, Bristol

Your work life and your private life are two very different things and should remain separate. You are employed to perform a specific function, ergo what you believe in is generally an irrelevance. Unless you are employed in a religious capacity, such beliefs and any outward display of them should be left at home.
Barbara, Oxon

I am shocked by the many anti-Christian sentiments expressed here, but I particularly object to bigots from Tokyo, the USA and other countries expressing opinions on things concerning this nation and which are none of their business!! My main point is however , that the hijab is worn by Doctors and nurses in all hospitals and no-one dare object. This is not essential for muslims, and is just as much a health and safety issue as a necklace! This is blatant anti-Christian discrimination, and they too should be banned. Another thing that irritates me is that BBC and other reprters do not seem to know the difference between a Crucifix and a Cross. The former has a model of Jesus on it , the latter is empty. Catholics wear the former - protestandts the latter!
Isabel, Chelmsford

The uniform code of no necklaces is laid out when you first start the job, and there is NOTHING in the Christian religion about having to wear a symbol of any kind. That is a matter of personal choice, not religious requirement, so damn right her claim was rejected. If she wants to be a good Christian, then let her act like it by doing a good job in her professional care capacity, not by inventing some garbage about discrimination. And Joe from Torquay, stethoscopes are not fastened around the neck, so if someone grabs them they just come away without risk of injury to anyone.
Jason, Gillingham

Stop being so precious Mrs Chaplin. There are always some people who want a special arrangement just for them. The problem then is it opens the floodgates for all sorts of exceptions and companies/ organisations spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to maintain some level control.
PJ Brown, Ledbury

Note that she was offered the opportunity to wear the crucifix INSIDE her clothes, but refused, because her primary purpose is not to remind herself of her faith, but to shove her superstitions into the faces of others--particularly vulnerable patients. As such, the ruling was quite right, and if she continues to flout the safety regulations at work, she should be fired.
Kimpatsu, Tokyo

The hospital has this restriction for the safety of their employees and patients. A nurse that doesn't believe in workplace safety is not one I would want to employ. As for her thinking this stops her expression of her religious beliefs, how she lives her life and other people see her living is an expression of Christianity. That is what counts, not wearing a cross, which if you believe your Bible is Idolatry. Put your faith in Christ, not a Crucifix.
Steve, Magazine, USA

"The law doesn't appear to be on the Christian side." Thank God for that! Let's keep the law fair for all by privileging none.
Andy, Bath

As a Christian, she should express her faith in the way she performs her duty as a nurse, not by wearing a cross. Because she insists on wearing a cross, she can't participate in front-line nursing, and to me that seems like she's putting her own feelings above the needs of patients. That doesn't strike me as a particularly Christian thing to do.
James, Maldon

I don't see how this is discriminating specifically against christians. Surely if there are strict dress codes that apply across the board to all nurses then no one should be wearing jewellry. As long as the same rule applies to and are adhered to no matter who you are, its not discrimination? Why should it make a difference whether its a religious item of jewellry or not? Surely its a health and saftey thing more than anything else. I am not allowed to wear any jewellry when at work, including even a wedding ring or necklace. I don't consider it to be an injustice, just common sense in some lines of work. Maybe if you worked in an office where its not a danger in any way it wouldn't be an issue. But if you work with people, chemicals, machinary etc then its just plain practical.
Stacey, Nottingham

Reason leads me to believe that we should be tolerant of those with or without faith, despite our own personal prejudices. From what I have heard from those who know and who have worked with Shirley is that she is a darned good nurse. If I was under her care, that is what would matter to me crucifix or no crucifix.
Gavin, Uplyme

Not all Muslims wear the hijab ... so the Hijab is not essential to the Muslim faith. Not all Christians wear a crucifix.... so the crucifix is not essential to the christian faith. So what's the difference .... The difference is that the Industrial Tribunal will rule in favour of thw Muslim and against the Christian. It's called discrimination. It's the point at which political correctness has become political abuse.
Clive, Halesowen

As a Christian under the present government we are very much in the position of Jews in 1933 Germany in that the persecution at a low level has started . Whether it develops further no one knows but we all must heed the warning of history. Over the next few years Christians must fight for their rights against a secular and increasingly anti- Christian society. Vigilance is all important we do not want to see again the genocide of a religious group.
Alan, Brecon

The comparison made by some people on here between the lanyard and the necklace is flawed. I too wear a lanyard at work to display my ID badge. However this is designed to separate at the back (for safety resaons) should it be pulled on by a member of the public.
Kevin, Plymouth

As we did be4 with muslims in our countries like father, like son
Sadu Liku, Denis

Religious militancy appears to be on the rise the world over. Unfortunately this christian woman seems to have a burning desire to feign martyrdom on the pyres of secularism. This seems to be a modern christian epidemic as we have those types of christians here in the USA as well. The issue is I think that as we move towards less homogeneous societies christians are realizing that their heretofor exclusive iron grip is being loosened. This is excellent news for every one else who has suffered under christian bigotry, but it appears to be an extremely frightening prospect for christians. To finish with comments appropos to this particular story, The dress code is what the dress code is- necklaces are forbidden. A symbolic representation of an instrument of torture dangling on a chain is still by definition a necklace. Wearing this necklace is not required by the tenets of her religion and she could very easily take one of several compromises offered without violating any required religious practices. The correct ruling has been made.
Lynda, Ohio, USA

Common sense has prevailed. Mrs Chaplin...said: "The law doesn't appear to be on the Christian side." Of course it's not, nor should it be with any religion. In her job, she should be removed from duty for wearing any jewellery, whatever shape it is in. Her beliefs should remain just that - her own.
Ian, Exeter

It is unfortunately common nowadays for individuals to think they are a 'special case'. This is particularly so with the overtly religious - of all religions. Anyone who refuses to change the rules for them is immediately labelled anti-Semitic, anti Muslim, or in this case anti-Christian. Dress properly for the job and get on with it.
Alan, France

A victory for common sense!
Peter Saunders

No nurse should wear exposed jewellery when working. The hospital authorities are correct on this. If the wearing of this symbol as a pronouncement of her faith is truly important to this nurse, why can't she negotiate with her employers, to be allowed to wear a fabric equivalent on her uniform? After all, the "Red Cross" do something similar.
Graham, Leeds

faith is a personal thing is anyone really bothered about this woman displaying her beliefs she has been offered a fair solution by the nhs either take it or leave her job and any further tribunal costs footed by the taxpayer
Chris, Moretonhampstead

I wonder where this "me me me" attitude is getting us when someone decided this was an "issue"! How much has this case cost the NHS - money that could have been better spent on patient care? If there is a set uniform then stick to it or get out of the profession. Your own adornment (religious or non-religious) is far less important than the people you're paid for, and supposed to be caring for.
D. McLaughlin, Glasgow

I agree in principal with the legal ruling, but based purely on health and safety grounds. This country is multi-racial and multi-religious. I myself am not a religious person, but do not persecute those that do have their faith. There is no consistency in this country. When in Rome, do as the Romans do - uniform is uniform, no matter what faith you are. rash helmet is worn for safety reasons - a turban is not. Get my drift?
Jane, Rainham

A necklace, unless it breaks ridiculously easily is a danger. A delirious patient might grab it for example. Any reason she can't display her cross on a brooch? Like those pin-on watches that nurses often wear? Or are they banned in Devon too? The option of pinning it INSIDE a lapel or pocket is just silly. I'm not religious, but all the while other faiths are allowed their headscarves or whatever, why can't she show her faith?
Caroline, Rochester

It seems to me to be more important to this woman to be able to demonstrate her faith to others than her faith is to herself.
Dave, Newton Abbot

Is there anyone now prepared to challenge the hospital's allowing the wearing of hejabs. These are not religious symbols, do not form part of the uniform and deeply offend many of us. I, for one, would refuse to be treated by any hejab-wearing staff and would blame the hospital for putting me in that position. They have now spent thousands on this case. Given the verdict can we be re-assured that hejabs will now be banned.
Margaret, Okehampton

I think the ruling is fantastic, no jewlery apart from a wedding ring is the uniform policy. Deal with it and grow up. Nursing is about patient care not showing off you support for some out dated opinions. Well done NHS.
Paul Harding, Lower Lydbrook

To try to bring the case together in very simple terms, if it is for safety reasons, i.e. a risk of use as a weapon against her (why some workplaces provide clip-on ties) then I can fully understand the ruling. However, christianity, like all religions is an area of sensitivity and therefore, I cannot understand why both politicians, judges and tribunals such as this cannot fathom why social cohesion is at best straining. I simply cannot understand the thought process.
Hammertime, Devon

A perfectly correct decision. If this deluded woman insists on living her life based on a collection of medieval fairytales, that's up to her..but the simple answer is to join a nunnery, not the NHS.
John, Liverpool

I do sympathise with Nurse Chaplin, but as many have pointed out it is not essential to wear a Cross to be a Christian. If the hospital rules forbid the wearing of jewellry, especially necklaces, as a Christian she should obey those rules - all she has done is to portray Christians in a very bad light. Please believe me, not all Christians ignore Uniform Codes!
Rebecca, Tavistock

I believe this country has gone to pot a muslim is allowed to wear what they like a hindu the same but a christian oh no not possible and everybody wonders why there is racism!!!!!
Caroline, Cheltenham

I share the disappointment of Mrs Shirley Chaplain after the tribunal ruled that she could not wear her crucifix necklace to work as a nurse. She very rightly drew the tribunal's attention to the unfairness of the trust allowing staff members of other faiths to wear religious and cultural symbols, including the hijab. Nevertheless, the tribunal ruled that Mrs Chaplin had not been indirectly discriminated against and that the claims of the NHS to ban the necklace on health and safety grounds were justified. Who do they think they're kidding? Mrs Chaplin subsequently commented that she was not surprised by the tribunal's decision. Neither am I. The tribunal's decision is outrageous and it sends out a very clear message to all Christians working in that particular Health Trust, or indeed those who may be considering working for it in the future, that they will have to 'hide' their faith. Clearly Christians whose faith motivates their vocation and care of patients do not appear to be welcome at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust. Shirley Chaplin's case has very rightly been taken up by Christian Concern For Our Nation, (an organisation with which I have no involvement nor connection) which maintains that there is no evidence to support the Health Trust's claim that wearing a crucifix necklace compromised health and safety. It is obvious that our courts are reluctant to protect the rights of Christians and many of us wonder just how long it will be before those who wear or display a cross to denote Christian faith may find themselves prosecuted under the law. Of course it couldn't happen here. Or could it?
Lomond Handley, Surrey

If you are required to wear a 'Uniform' for work , then anything NOT supplied by your employer should NOT be worn, irrespective of class, colour , marital status or religious beleaf, UNIFORM means Uniform ..all the same. If you NEED to wear religious 'tokens' then you need a job that allows them to be worn ( NON uniform), any further information can be found in a Dictionary.I do believe Christians practice tolerance?
Graham, Nottingham

A victory for athiest fundamentalism and politically correct bully-boys
Ian, London

'Mrs Chaplin said it was a "very poor day" for Christians in the workplace'. Well, it would be a very poor day for her indeed if a patient were to grab hold of the necklace in distress, strangling her in the process!! Common sense prevails.
Fiona, Basingstoke

Many health workers wear their ID cards on lanyards around their necks. Are these also a health and safety hazard like this nurse's necklace?
Dr DIY, Manchester

If I'm ever admitted to RD&E again (fingers crossed I'm not) and this nurse comes near me I will voice my objection immediately and loudly if I'm in any state to do so. She seems more concerned with her own beliefs and idolatry than with the patients. Anyone who tried to pray over me, in whatever belief would get turned away too. I have no religion. I want health care from nurses, not religion. Perhaps she should seek work in the private sector.
Jack, Brixham

I agree with banning religious symbols from hospital uniform, but you have to be consistent. Why are the ladies in the hijabs allowed to wear them? It seems like discrimination. It can't be a safety issue if she agreed to wear a shorter chain.
Natalie, Ely

The NHS hospital will have had to spend thousands of pounds defending this ridiculous claim so that this deluded, self-obsessed woman could assert her desire to wear a religious symbol. That's taxpayers' money and, as we all know, the NHS is there to provide healthcare, not to provide a platform for staff to express their individuality. Isn't it time we realised that the public sphere should be strictly secular, with no special recognition of ANY religion, instead of encouraging this scramble between Christians and Muslims for prominence of their religious symbols in the workplace?
Julia, Colchester

It appears that neither side is prepared to compromise on this issue. A crucifix or any other piece of jewellery on display is a "health & safety" hazard. It has been suggested that she could continue to wear it, but keep it tucked away. I am therefore sceptical of her insistence that it should continue be dislayed.(to impress others?)
Rob, Tavistock

"The law does not seem to be on the Christians side". Neither should it be. The law is here for us all and should not be high-jacked by any superstitious cult. We are a secular country and need to get over this myth based affliction some weak minded people insist on forcing down the throats of the normal people.
Gaz, Sunderland

It is good to see sense prevail amidst the emotion and irrationality of this whole case which has nothing to do with discrimination but rather safe professional practice within a sensitive and difficult environment.
Peter, Exeter

Since starting in the nhs in 1985 we were given strict rules on what we could and couldnt wear - including no earrings, chains and necklaces. Every hospital and community PCT has a dress uniform policy and it clearly states what you are permitted to wear and not to wear. She has been a nurse for a long time and there is no excuse. Please dont use religion as an excuse. The uniform policies are available for all to see on the internet including the general public . If you are concerned about staff wearing 'bling' or the WAG religion of acrylic/false nails by health care workers then report it and ensure that it is not just at ward level but to the directors of nursing, infection control team and the chief executive. All clinical staff know the rules but there are some who just dont seem to think it applies to them. It is not a poor day for christians in the workplace but for poor practice from those who know the rules and choose to do their own thing!
Healthcare professional, Cheshire

If she absolutely MUST wear a chain around her neck, she should find herself a job which does not have a rule against them. A hospital is no place for religion anyway. A sick non-christian does not get any benefit from a nurse wearing a crucifix, or from them handing out bible verses and offering to pray for them, as has been brought to light in other so-called "anti-christian discrimination" cases. Myself, I would be pretty put out and tell them to keep their delusions to themselves.
Jim, Halifax

I don't understand why this woman felt she had a case? Wearing a Crucifix necklace is not a necessary part of being a Christian and a necklace dangling outside your clothing is not practical for a nurse. This woman should abide by the rules like everyone else and not kick up a huge fuss about nothing. The workplace is not the place to be 'expressing your religious beliefs' and she should keep them to herself, not be trying to force her opinions on her patients - just take the necklace off, for goodness sake, what is the big deal?
Rebecca, Birmingham

People with stupid, bigoted Iron Age beliefs should keep them to themselves. The religious have had thousands of years ramming this nonsense down the throats of thinking people - it's time for reason to take precedence.
Craig, Oswaldtwistle

Why doesn't she read 'The God Delusion' along with all other denominations and stop believing fairy tales.
Bob, Brixham

I am glad the ban has been upheld. The NHS and Hospitals are paid for by all for the use of all and not as a platform for religion. I also hope that this is applied to all religion in hospitals and none of them are allowed to display their symbols. Hopefully one day we will be past the remnants of this outdated, medieval practice of superstition.
Gary, Bournemouth

We are continually told that hejabs are not necessary for the Muslim faith so why does the hospital allow them to be worn? They are just as easily grabbed as a crucifix - more easier in fact. I find them particularly offensive as for most of us they denote merely female subservience. Also doctors, when not in scrubs, wander around in all sorts of outdoor dear - I have seen one in a heavy woollen jumper taking blood. Not to speak of all the hospital uniforms paraded around Exeter streets. This seems more like a power struggle than any real concern for health and safety.
Margaret, Okehampton

This is nothing to do with religion it is the fact that it is a necklace that she insisted on wearing OUTSIDE her clothes. The rule would have been the same if she wore a necklace of any type. If she wore it underneath her clothing like anyone else with a cross and chain does then she probably wouldn't have been asked to remove it. This woman deserved what she got, she is a silly stubborn lady who needs to look past her religious blinkers to see the real reasons for the ruling. I most certainly wouldn't want her cross (or any other jewellery for that matter) to be dangling in my face as she bent over me whilst attending to me. Regarding the previous posters comments about Doctors wearing stethoscopes - This bears no relevance to this case. Stethoscopes are needed for the Doctors to do their jobs, and they are not joined around the neck so if pulled they would easily come off with out damage.
David, Kidderminster

Mrs Chaplin was offered the alternative of pinning this article of her faith to her lapel, but she refused. Apparently, Jesus is only happy when swinging from a chain. Either that, or this woman is the latest in a line of victim-status chasing glory-hounds who has confused "discrimination" for "being treated like everybody else".
Ade, Brighton

Is this woman's faith in Christianity so insecure that she needs an object on show to prove it? If she is truly Christian, she would have no need of such an adornment - her actions would be enough. Wearing a cross on a chain is just jewellery and does not make you a Christian - her employers are right to insist their uniform and dress code is adhered to. And a stethoscope is not the same at all - it is Y-shaped and therefore doesn't go all the way round the neck... pulling this off causes no danger to the wearer!
A Christian, Fareham

A relative was on a ward in that hospital recently. When another patient collapsed a cleaner had to fetch two nurses from the car park where they had gone to smoke. Other people I know have told of nurses laughing and chatting all night so that they couldn't sleep. Someone else was only told of their husband's death when they turned up at visiting time. Crucifixes should be the least of their worries.
Mary, Camelford

It is not discriminatory if the rule applies to all necklaces. A stethescope is a piece of medical equipment and does not contain a closed loop so that's not a fair comparison. I also imagine that the crucifix, being such a potent symbol of torture might be quite disturbing to the ill.
Ian, Zurich

I think that the nurse wearing a cross on a chain should continue wearing it. What about doctors and specialists who carry a stethoscope dangling from their neck. Haven't R D & E anything else to do apart from discriminating against their staff.
Joe, Torquay

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Nurse loses crucifix 'ban' claim
07 Apr 10 |  Devon


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