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The offence of the cross

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The cross is a symbol of hope to the world. It is a constant reminder that Jesus gave his life for each and every person, and through the cross reconciled us to God. It is for these reasons that the cross is an invaluable symbol of the Christian faith. It demonstrates the love that Jesus has for the entire human race.

The cross speaks of truth. Unfortunately, the cross is no longer politically correct.

I was troubled to discover this week that muslim lobbyists in Switzerland are trying to get the cross removed from the Swiss flag, claiming that the cross has no place in a multicultural society and is offensive. The group are going to launch a nation-wide campaign in October, which is going to ask the citizens of Switzerland to consider a new flag, one which is ‘less likely to offend’ to muslims.

Sadly, this news by no means shocked me. It sits within a wider narrative of attempts to remove the cross (and the Christian faith) from the public square – attempts made by both secularists and Islamists on an increasing basis.

In America, we recently saw huge opposition to a cross being on display at the 9/11 site. A secular campaigning group argued that the display was unconstitutional and may cause offence. Thankfully, the case was lost and 72% of Americans agreed that the cross should be displayed.

Similarly, in Italy, the European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that schools should be allowed to display a cross in their classrooms after a mother complained that such a display breached the human rights of children.

These are victories which we as the church should be greatly rejoicing.

The issue has not escaped Britain. At the Christian Legal Centre we have defended four individuals who have suffered at work because of an outward display of the cross.

Colin Atkinson was asked to remove his palm cross from his work van where he had displayed it for fifteen years. He was heavily penalised and continues to suffer difficulties because of his refusal to move it.

Shirley Chaplin was asked to remove the cross that she had worn for thirty years whilst working as a nurse. We have now taken her case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Only this week I learned that a large cross was removed from the entrance lobby of a UK Christian charity, in order not to offend others.

Increasingly, it seems that Christian beliefs are allowed to be held ‘in principle’ but cannot be manifested in public. Attempts to stop any public display of the cross are a small but telling part of this dynamic.

Scripture warns us that the cross is an ‘offence’. Yet removing the cross from the public square is not going to negate his victory or stop his return. What was accomplished on the cross stands for ever.

We serve an incredible God.



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