A Christian nurse was “forced to choose between her job and her faith” after being ordered to remove her crucifix at a hospital where Muslim staff wore headscarves unchallenged, a tribunal heard yesterday.
Shirley Chaplin, 54, said she had been wearing the religious symbol around her neck without complaint for 31 years before she was ordered to hide it away. But the grandmother claims that after refusing to comply and then pointing out that two women doctors were allowed to wear headscarves, she was moved to a desk job.
Her case has caused uproar among Christian support groups, who feel their beliefs are not being given the same respect as other faiths. At the weekend her case against the NHS was backed by seven senior Anglican bishops who issued a national letter of support.
Yesterday, on the first day of an employment tribunal, Mrs Chaplin, from Kenn, near Exeter, Devon, told of her fight to be allowed to carry on wearing the crucifix. She is claiming religious discrimination in a case backed by the Christian Legal Centre, which says her treatment is a symptom of increasing discrimination against Christians.
Update: See also “Christian nurse says NHS ‘persecuted’ her faith and favours Muslims employees”, Daily Telegraph, 31 March 2010