Pressed by Mr Cunliffe on whether a Muslim woman who wore a burka at work would be considered discreet, she said: ‘If they could do their job effectively, then yes.’
MAILONLINE…An electrician faces the sack for displaying a small palm cross on the dashboard of his company van.
Former soldier Colin Atkinson has been summoned to a disciplinary hearing by the giant housing association where he has been employed for 15 years because he refuses to remove the symbol.
Mr Atkinson, a regular worshipper at church, said: ‘The treatment of Christians in this country is becoming diabolical…but I will stand up for my faith.’
Throughout his time at work, he has had an 8in-long cross made from woven palm leaves attached to the dashboard shelf below his windscreen without receiving a single complaint.
But his bosses at publicly funded Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) in West Yorkshire – the fifth-biggest housing organisation in England – have demanded he remove the cross on the grounds it may offend people or suggest the organisation is Christian. Mr Atkinson’s union representative said he faces a full disciplinary hearing next month for gross misconduct, which could result in dismissal.
The association strongly promotes ‘inclusive’ policies and allows employees to wear religious symbols at work.
It has provided stalls at gay pride events, held ‘diversity days’ for travellers, and hosted a gender reassignment event entitled A World That Includes Transpeople.
Mr Atkinson, who has an unblemished work record, said he had not been shown similar respect.
‘The past few months have been unbelievable, a nightmare,’ he said.
‘I have worked in the coal mines and served in the Army in Northern Ireland and I have never suffered such stress. The treatment of Christians in this country is becoming diabolical. It is political correctness taken to the extreme.’
But he added: ‘I have never been so full of resolve. I am determined to stand up for my rights. If they sack me, so be it. But I am standing up for my faith.’
Mr Atkinson’s battle follows a series of similar cases involving Christians who claim their freedoms have been curbed following the introduction of controversial equality laws.
Campaigners accused the housing association of ‘remarkable intolerance’ at a time when millions of Christians will be celebrating Palm Sunday today, a week before Easter Sunday. Palms are traditionally distributed during services to mark Christ’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. READ MORE