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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)

  • All these issues this nurse puts forward are her beliefs and therefore her problem.

    If the policy being contested is one of no necklaces then her religion has no baring at all on this. If she can't do her job without waering a necklace then maybe she should look for employment somewhere where she can.

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  • I quite agree with the previous comment.

    Her belief is her own business. There is no stimpulation within the christian faith that christians should wear a cross; it is her personal desire to wear it. I accept there are some religions where certain dress codes etc are demanded and I can generally accept that, but htis is different.

    If her faith is that important to her, surely she should find a job where she could wear her crucifix without any issues - effectively she is making herself unemployed; it's nothing to do with religion, it's just her being stubborn. If I felt the need to wear a fireman's helmet to work to show my support to our colleagues in the emergency service I'm sure someone would have something to say about it!

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  • If she has been wearing the crucifix for 30 years as a nurse, without problems, why is it suddenly a problem? Has someone with an anti-religious grudge stirred up trouble?

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  • i think it is absolutly disgusting that a christian can not wear a symbol of her religon what happend to respecting a person and treating someone holistically does this not include the staff then is there no respect for the christian faith! if this was any other faith this would not be an issue so why is it that the christian faith is persicuted and anyone who beleives in it is too. I do not wear a cross to work but i dont beleive a good nurse should be persecuted for choosing too.

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  • What has become of nursing we seem to forget we are actually at work to care for our patients. This woman has been in the profession for 30 years so she of all people should know what the policy states.The trust did the right thing.

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  • Yes she knows what the policy says but is the wearing of this crucifix a hinderance to her providing nursing care. If she had worn it around her wrist and this prevented her decontaminating her hands correctly then by all means make an issue of it. Nursing has probably lost a kind and caring practitioner thrown into a desk job that she hates and she will probably retire sooner than if she continued to care for her patients in the way she has been trained to do so. Note that Bare below the elbows has been reviewed to suit our Muslim colleagues

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  • The NHS and Nurses in general treat all our patients and their family members with equal courtesy and respect regardless of their; wealth, colour, ethnicity, religious beliefs, height, shape or weight or intellect.

    It is time we offered the same courtesy to our colleagues.

    I suggest to the politically correct, none medical drones who sit seemingly comatosed in their cloud cuckoo land offices, that they turn their rather questionable and blatantly overpaid talents to putting the NHS backon its feet, not creating further restrictive and contentious problems for an ailing service which is surviving on the: good will, skills and dedication of its persecuted front line staff.

    As I have posted previously: People lacking medical knowledge, ie: failed businessmen, accountants and political sycophants should be excluded from any involvement in the running of the NHS.

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  • I am sorry but as nurse who began working in the mid 80's it has always been against my dress code to wear a necklace. In fact in a book entitled First Year Nursing Manual from 1942 it states ornaments or jewellery are forbidden to ensure cleanliness and this from an era when a nurse was expected to be religious and attend church and they didnt wear their crucufixes. But as I stated earlier never in any of the hospitals I have worked have I been allowed to wear jewellery and yes I agree with the hospital it can be grabbed by patients and cause injury.

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  • I find it of great interest that beleivers of the Christian faith who wish to wear a crucifix have to remove them or suffer sanction, yet why do we not have the same problem for those who wear Turbans and don't shave because of their religion. Will we next be insisting those with medical alert necklaces remove them also as they might be a risk.
    Should we be insisting that all nurses have shaved heads in case the patient pulls their hair?????? The risk to a nurses neck from having the chain pulled is minute and if their neck is so weak to be damaged by such an incident they are not medically fit for their role.

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  • Why don`t people just get on with the job and adhere to the policies set out to meet the greatest good of patients and staff. The fight with employers over such a matter is a complete waste of time and money. If a nurse cannot nurse without a necklace that itself is of concern.

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