BA and the offence of the cross
When this issue was first brought to his attention, Cranmer contacted BA’s chief executive, Mr Willie Walsh, who responded as follows:
Dear Dr Cranmer,
Thank you for contacting us about our staff wearing religious symbols.
British Airways does not have a policy that bans such symbols but, like many companies whose employees need to wear a uniform, we do have a dress code.
Our staff are allowed to wear crosses on chains or any other similar items whether religious or not, but these must be worn beneath their uniform. Some religious symbols – such as turbans and hijabs - can be worn openly as they cannot be placed under uniforms.
This policy has been in place for many years and ensures that our uniform standards remain consistent. The media coverage refers to a serving employee who has not been suspended.
As this case is currently being investigated, we cannot comment further at this time.
He refused to answer Cranmer’s point about the Sikh kara. And neither was he prepared to engage in conversation about the fact that neither hijabs nor turbans are obligatory.
So, it now appears that BA is prepared to consider permitting religious symbols to be worn as lapel badges. The joy for Cranmer, in this postmodern age of subjective relativism, is that this will now open the floodgates. How will BA define religion? Theology? Longevity? Social acceptability? Number of adherents? By permitting the cross, BA must surely be obliged to permit its employees to wear lapel badges of Yoda, since (according to the 2001 census) Jedi Knights outnumber both Jews and Sikhs in the United Kingdom. He rather suspects this will create far more publicity than the cross…