Marie Curie, a charity organization in the United Kingdom that provides care to people with terminal illnesses, recently apologized to a Christian chaplain who was told he would face "consequences" for refusing to remove a cross while volunteering for the charity.
According to The Christian Post, a Methodist minister instructed Derek Timms, the 73-year-old chaplain, to stop wearing his small cross pin badge on his shirt while volunteering for the Marie Curie's Solihull branch's "spiritual advisors" program. The minister warned that the cross could "offend" and create "barriers" with patients.
The Christian Legal Centre, which represented Timms, reported that the issue first began in September when the Solihull branch changed the job title of "chaplain" to "spiritual advisors" on behalf of its new "interfaith" approach. CRC also says that Timms wears the cross to represent his Christian faith and in memory of his wife, who passed away earlier this year.
"In line with the ethos of hospice and healthcare chaplaincy, no religious symbols should be worn by those engaged in spiritual care," the minister's email states. "We need to be there for people of all faiths and none. Whilst I recognised you shared a story about one patient liking the cross you wore, it can create a barrier to others. The idea is that we should appear neutral, and that enables a spiritual encounter that is about what the person we are visiting needs."
Timms responded by arguing that wearing the cross shows that he is a Christian chaplain. He also questioned whether the same rule applied to turban-wearing Sikhs and burka or prayer-dress-wearing Muslims. Additionally, the chaplain stated that he had worn the cross in the past four years without any complaints.
The minister, however, told Timms that he needed "re-training" and would face "consequences" for refusing to remove his cross.
Earlier this month, the Marie Curie regional head office issued an apology to Timms after he sent them a letter with excerpts from a previous ruling on wearing a cross in the workplace.
"I have searched the Marie Curie Solihull website, policy documents, the NHS website and nowhere can I find where there is a written policy which prohibits the wearing of crosses in my specific situation or why it is prohibited," he wrote.
According to the Christian Legal Centre, the regional head office confirmed in a letter that the organization doesn't have a policy requiring the removal of crosses while at work.
"I can confirm that currently, we have neither an organisational or uniform policy that would support our recent request to remove your cross while supporting patients and families in the Hospice. I apologise unreservedly for the distress that we have caused," the letter reads.
While Timms accepts the apology, he plans to work as a chaplain elsewhere.
"I was shocked and hurt by how I was treated," he said.
"There was and is no need to suppress the symbol of the cross and, in so doing, send a message that the Christian faith needs to be neutralised or removed entirely from a chaplaincy front-line service," he added.
Timms further noted that "interfaith ideology is becoming so firmly embedded throughout the Christian faith that it is essentially cancelling itself."
Timms is not the only Christian to have issues in the workplace for wearing a cross. As Christian Headlines previously reported, a Christian factory worker in Scotland won over $26,000 in a religious discrimination suit after his job fired him for refusing to remove a cross necklace.
In January, a British employment tribunal ruled in favor of a Christian nurse who also lost her job for refusing to remove her cross necklace.
Photo courtesy: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.