A British electrician who works at a public housing complex could lose his job for displaying a small cross inside his company van.
“I expect to be sacked but I have no fear of man, just a fear of God,” said Colin Atkinson, a 64-year-old electrician in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. “I am on trial for my faith.”
His trouble started when his bosses at the Wakefield and District Housing complex received an anonymous complaint about the cross. The religious symbol is eight inches tall and is displayed inside Atkinson’s company van.
“It’s a scandal that we live in a Christian nation and yet Christians are not allowed to practice their religion,” he told The Daily Mail.
Atkinson said he received a letter from his boss explaining that employees were required to remain “neutral” on matters of religion.
However, Muslim and Hindu workers are allowed to display symbols of their faith – including wearing headscarves and turbans.
“It’s one rule for Christians and another rule for followers of any other religion,” former Home Office minister Ann Widdecombe told The Daily Mail.
Atkinson refused an order to remove the cross and lost an appeal. Now, Atkinson is accused of failing to comply with company rules and refusing a reasonable management request. He pointed out that his boss is allowed to display a poster of communist revolutionary leader Che Guevara in his office.
Gillian Pickersgill, the WDH executive director said the issue is not about religion.
“It’s simply about employees not displaying personal items in company vehicles, “ she said.
Atkinson’s stand has earned praise from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
“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,” Lord Carey said. “I salute Mr. Atkinson for his bravery and all Christians who quietly stand up for their faith. It’s outrageous that anyone cannot display a small palm cross. This is political correctness gone mad once more.”