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Crucifix ban 'violated Christian nurse's faith'


A Christian nurse claiming she was discriminated against by her employer has told a tribunal that removing her crucifix would violate her faith.

Shirley Chaplin said she was moved to a paperwork role by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust Hospital, which she accuses of trying to “ridicule” her religion.

The trust claims it was motivated by health and safety concerns about patients grabbing necklaces.

In a 71-point statement, Mrs Chaplin, who wore the crucifix to the tribunal in her home city of Exeter, said she was “personally convicted” to wear the emblem, given to her as a confirmation gift in 1971.

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In one of the points, she said: “I have been a nurse for roughly 30 years and throughout that time I have worn my crucifix. The crucifix is an exceptionally important expression of my faith and my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. To deliberately remove or hide my crucifix or to treat it disrespectfully would violate my faith.”

There were at least four reasons why it was so important, she told the tribunal. Firstly, to remind her of Jesus’s dying on the cross to remove her sins.

Secondly, it helped her identify with Jesus, thirdly, it was part of her identity, and fourthly it acted as “motivation”.

She started working for the trust continuously in 1989, being made a grade D nurse in 1994, and promoted to an E grade nurse on 2001.

The case will continue for an estimated six days before judgment is expected to be handed down.


Readers' comments (15)

  • Why does she have to wear the crucifix around her neck anyway? Who is she trying to impress her christianity on anyway? If, as she said it was so imprtant for her to have this constant reminder of her beliefs, then why not take it off prior to starting work and slip it in a pocket?
    In a number of jobs that I have held (not just the NHS), policy has stated that the wearing of necklaces was not allowed. I respect that, why should she be made the exception?

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  • The trust that i work in has adapted their uniform policy to comply with all religious aspects of the work force. We wear wedding rings and other religions wear necklaces to show their religious bond between two people. What is the problem with wearing a crusifix as long as the adapted uniform policy is adheered too.

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  • Yes, I do agree with the policy of not wearing any jewellery while at work. I doubt if a necklace can post danger of being pulled then nurses should not use ear studs or even a wedding band. I can only sypathise with the poor nurse who has been wictim of cheap thinking of nhs boss

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  • Martin Gray

    I find some of the comments on this post incredulous! One could argue here that the human rights of this nurse are being denied. I've seen nurses, both male and female, wearing piercings through the nose and ear without being harrassed in this way! In fact management have been afraid to bring them to task in fear of legal proceedings being brought against them.

    A neck chain used to support a crucifix is usually very thin and easily broken; provided it was tucked into the uniform and out of sight why the furore? I could understand if it was a tick 'chav' gold link chain, but I doubt very much this was the case.

    I agree totally with Roger here; we make allowances for other faiths except those deemed as Christian. Are we not supposed to be a democratic society with freedom of speech and self expression? Or is that just when it suits the PC brigade? Even our religeous holidays and festivities are being challenged nowadays as 'they may cause offence to other religeons' just like the old Robinsons jam 'emblem' (can't put the word in print as I would no doubt be accussed of being racist) or some of the old nursery rhyms.

    The post about the new guidelines on 'bare above the elbow' has infuriated me enough; where has the common sense gone in our profession? Has it been eroded by the need to further our academic levels of training in the cause of having the profession recognised??

    Rings can be caught in bedsides, hoists, etc. so are we all to remove our wedding bands as well? Even patients going to theatre for surgery are allowed to keep them on, even if they have to be taped, so justify that for me.

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  • Before the NHS Christianity was a by-word for care, respect and dignity for all hunmankind, before these values became PC. It is a pity a little cross to remind Christans of the values we all work hard to offer together, to each and every user, subjects a colleague to such treatment. One piece of tape or a slighltly shorter chain, and any potential, even for the most stringent Health and Safety concerns are solved. Free and without prejudice.

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