I used to be a litigation lawyer. I say this by way of a statement of fact, not as a confession. One of the things that the solicitor who was the head of the litigation department taught me was to discern which cases to settle and which to fight. This meant that when I went to court I knew I had a strong case that I could defend with confidence rather than a dodgy claim in which I hoped I might get lucky. It also meant that clients were happier with the outcomes.
Choose your battles wisely. That was also good parenting advice I have read (although not always taken on board – sorry kids!).
So when I read about cases like the council that fired a Christian for having a cross in his van, and him claiming unfair dismissal, I am not sure what to think. Have they chosen their battles wisely?
I have a suspicion that the employers are technically correct. If there is a ban on any personal items in company vehicles then that should apply to everyone. I suspect it is to prevent employees customising their vehicles or diminishing the impact of the corporate identity. But this has been seized on by those who see an anti-Christian conspiracy everywhere and is now another case being fought on behalf of oppressed Christians. If my suspicion is correct, and if the case goes to court, a judge will have no choice but to find in favour of the company and this will then be proclaimed as yet another anti-Christian judgment in this increasingly ungodly country.
It’s the same as the furore in the past about a nurse who could not wear a cross on a chain around her neck at work in a hospital. The reason given was not an anti-Christian agenda, it was that any chains around the necks of nurses were potential strangling hazards for the staff if a patient grabbed them. But again it was fought in public as oppression of Christians. A judge decided that this was a rule that was based on safety not on an anti-religious agenda and found for the health authority.
Comparisons are made with other religions, whose adherents are allowed to wear the symbols of their faith such as turbans. But these are essential aspects of those religions. Nowhere in the Bible are we told that Christians have to wear or display crosses. Instead what we are told to represent our faith with is the way we treat other people, the way in which we are in the face of adversity, the way we love one another, and having ‘the aroma of Christ’, being followers of Jesus who went the way of the cross.
I do feel for the individuals involved in cases like the ones above. I empathise with their sense of injustice (if they are the ones being told not to wear or display the crosses). But I also feel for those who are called on to enforce the rules and are vilified for it by Christians. I also wonder what will happen in France where wearing of Muslim veils in public is now illegal and Muslim women are wearing them in protest. Will Christians be as willing to stand up for their rights?
It is right for us to highlight and fight against injustice and oppression. It is right for us to be proud of our faith and willing to stand up for it. We should never be ashamed of being Christians. We should never shrink back from being the people Jesus calls us to be. We should always be seeking the fruit of the Spirit to be growing and evident within us.
But aren’t there worse injustices in the world and isn’t there greater oppression than Christians not being allowed to show or wear a cross? Aren’t there better ways to demonstrate our faith? Isn’t the way we are more of a witness than what we wear? Is the Spirit bearing evident fruit?
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Where’s the fruit of belligerence? What about the fruit of contentiousness? Why no fruit of litigiousness?
I feel the need for some more lawyer-related jokes to calm me down:
Q: Why won’t sharks attack lawyers?
A: Professional courtesy.
Q: When lawyers die, why are they buried in a hole 24 feet deep?
A: Because deep down, they are all nice guys!
Q: Have you heard about the lawyers’ word processor?
A: No matter what font you select, everything comes out in small print.
Q: Did you hear about the terrorist that hijacked a 747 full of lawyers?
A: He threatened to release one every hour if his demands weren’t met.
Q: What is the difference between a lawyer and a herd of buffalo?
A: The lawyer charges more.
Q: Did you hear about the new microwave lawyer?
A: You spend eight minutes in his office and get billed as if you’d been there eight hours.