Derek Timms, a Christian chaplain who served at the Marie Curie charity in England for four years, was recently threatened over wearing a cross pinned to his shirt to work, according to Decision Magazine. The charity, which provides support for terminally ill patients and their families, claimed that Timms’ cross should not be worn around people who are not Christian, and discouraged him from even wearing his cross around Christians. Knowing he had the right to wear his cross to work, Timms sought the support of the Christian Legal Centre, and he was issued an apology on behalf of Marie Curie.
The complaint about Timms’ cross came from a new staff person after changes were made in their branch of the charity. The changes were that chaplains would be called “spiritual advisors” instead, and the charity would “emphasize an interfaith approach.” The woman leading the “spiritual advisors” approached Timms over the concern of his cross through an email that stated, “If you would like to have a cross out of sight in your pocket and put it on when you know for sure that you are going into the room of a person of Christian faith, that would be acceptable, but also not particularly necessary.”
Timms did his research, looking into the Code of Conduct for healthcare chaplains, the National Health Service chaplaincy guidelines, the Chaplaincy Code of Conduct and Marie Curie’s web pages, but did not find any references to the prohibition of religious symbols. Upon relaying this back to the new minister, she responded by essentially threatening his position at the charity.
After reaching out to the Christian Legal Centre, which recalled a similar case, Timms ultimately won his case. Referencing an excerpt from a previous case, Timms wrote, “it is a fundamental right to be able to manifest one’s faith by wearing a cross or other religious jewellery in the workplace.”
Although stories like these are unfortunately not uncommon today, they remind everyone of the meaning and importance of religious freedom. As newer generations enter the workforce, the knowledge of such rights, or the respect for them, seems to be disappearing. However, those who firmly stand up for their rights in free countries, are helping everyone understand why religious liberty is essential today and in the future. Though Timms has chosen to find work elsewhere, he will likely continue to inspire and encourage others to find hope with his belief in faith.