By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
WAKEFIELD, UK (ANS) — 2011 – A Christian employee of a private not-for-profit organization in the UK is currently under investigation and faces possible disciplinary action because of his display of a small palm cross in the company van he drives.
According to a news release from the British Christian Legal Centre (www.christianlegalcentre.com), Colin Atkinson, 64, an electrician, has worked for Wakefield District Housing (WDH) in Yorkshire for 15 years, and has “discreetly” displayed an eight-inch palm cross on the dashboard of his employers’ van.
The released added, “Yet following a complaint from a WDH tenant, who suggested that the cross might offend other faiths, Colin has been put under huge pressure to remove the cross from his van. So far he has refused – and he is now being investigated for his alleged failure to comply.
“WDH have claimed that they are a neutral organization and that allowing a cross would be favorable to Christianity and could cause offense. However, WDH employees who are adherents of other faiths are allowed to wear headdresses, beards and turbans.”
The Christian Legal Centre said that Colin “will be informed about whether he will face his disciplinary action shortly.” He is being represented by the human rights barrister, and standing Counsel for the Christian Legal Centre, Paul Diamond.
Colin said: “I’m really shocked and surprised by all of this. I have always had that cross in my van. It’s a symbol of my personal faith. It’s not offensive. It’s in a discrete place and I am acting lawfully.”
According to the BBC, Gillian Pickersgill, executive director of people at WDH, said: “Wakefield and District Housing is extremely disappointed and surprised with the misrepresentation of this issue.
“It is not about religion – it’s simply about employees not displaying personal items in company vehicles.
“Mr. Atkinson has failed to mention that it is permissible for WDH employees, including himself, to display religious artifacts and other personal possessions on their desks and themselves.”
WDH added it was “inappropriate” to comment further on the case.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Colin Atkinson is a decent and hardworking man, yet after many years of service he has been told that he cannot continue to have a small palm cross in his van. This smacks of something deeply illiberal and remarkably intolerant. Freedom of expression now needs to be robustly defended. When a man can’t display a palm cross in his van in a historically Christian country, it should give people serious pause for thought. Is this the kind of society that the British public want to live in?”
“The cross is a profound symbol of God’s love for all of us. We should not be embarrassed about it, and the historic Christian character of this nation should be retained for the benefit of all.
“At the Christian Legal Centre, together with its sister organization Christian Concern, we will continue to promote the Not Ashamed campaign encouraging Christians everywhere to be open about their faith and the hope it brings over Easter.”
According to their website (www.wdh.co.uk), Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) became the largest single housing stock transfer organization in 2005, taking responsibility for over 31,000 homes in the Wakefield District.
For further information / interview: contact: Andrea Minichiello Williams (CEO Christian Legal Centre) at + 44 (0) 7712 591164 or by e-mail at: [email protected]tianconcern.com
Dan Wooding, 70, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 47 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. He now hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on KWVE in Southern California which is also carried on the Calvary Radio Network throughout the United States. The program is also aired in Great Britain on Calvary Chapel Radio UK. Besides this, Wooding is a host for His Channel Live, which is carried via the Internet to some 200 countries. You can follow Dan on Facebook under his name there or at ASSIST News Service. He is the author of some 44 books. Two of the latest include his autobiography, “From Tabloid to Truth”, which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, press this link. Wooding, who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, has also recently released his first novel “Red Dagger” which is available this link.