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Victory for Christian in 'Cross in Van' Controversy - as Employers Back Down

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A Christian employee, Colin Atkinson, who refused to remove a Palm Cross from the dashboard of his Housing Association vehicle is rejoicing this Easter Sunday, after threats of the sack have been lifted, and his employers have agreed to allow him to continue to keep the cross he has displayed for 15 years, in the cockpit of his van.

Colin Atkinson who has worked for Wakefield District Housing (WDH) for 15 years, and has discreetly displayed his palm cross in the van for that entire time was under threat of disciplinary action  after one anonymous complaint from a WDH tenant, who suggested that the cross might offend other faiths.  The Christian was put under huge pressure to remove the cross from his van after he refused and was told he may face the sack – just one year off retirement.

WDH had claimed that they are a neutral organisation 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, and another colleague is allowed to hang a Koranic verse in the car she uses for work.  After Colin was told to remove his cross, WDH then introduced a policy banning personal items from vans.

However, following intervention by the Christian Legal Centre and national media coverage, started by the Mail on Sunday last week, the employee has been told disciplinary action against him has been dropped and, that he can keep the cross, attached vertically, to the glove compartment of his WD liveried van.

Colin said: “I am delighted that my employers have recognized my right to express my Christian faith by the quiet witness of displaying a small palm cross in my van.  There are millions of people who wear a cross around their neck to bring the re-assurance and comfort, and to me, it’s a constantly reminder of God’s love for us, and how we should love and serve others – regardless of their faith or none.

“This is a decision which shows common sense and one which I trust other publicly-funded bodies will follow.

“I would like to thank Paul Diamond, my barrister and the Legal Christian Centre for all their advice and support, and the Mail on Sunday, and the very many other newspapers and media outlets who interviewed me, and of course, to the very many members of the public who sent messages of support.”

Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, said: "This case shows what can happen when Christians refuse to give in to threats of intimidation and, when faced with a calm rationale by Christians, many right-minded employers will see sense.

Easter is a time where traditionally, thousands of Christians in this country will be displaying crosses in their windows and in their homes.  The cross is a profound symbol of hope for us all reminding us that God reached out in love, at the cost of His own life, to bring forgiveness and reconciliation to Him. This is the glorious message of the cross’


Media

Mail on Sunday: Andrea Minichiello Williams Comment Piece
Daily Mail: 'I'm proud of my cross - but Christianity is becoming a dirty word in this country', says the electrician threatened with the sack for displaying crucifix
Daily Mail: Hallelujah! An Easter victory as Christian electrician wins battle to display cross in his van

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