Linda Colling: Right to feel victimised

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IT is only the other day I wrote that this land is locked in a politically correct stranglehold.

So insidious and sinister that unbelievably a 64-year-old electrician now faces the sack for displaying a small palm cross on the dashboard of his company van.

The shocking treatment of Colin Atkinson, a decent, hard working man, signals yet another case of the Christian faith under fire.

We may well ask what if instead of a cross it had been a symbol of any other religion on the dashboard?

It is Christianity only that is being singled out in a disturbing campaign which has seen a teacher, a nurse, airline worker, guest-house owners and would-be foster parents all falling foul of political correctness.

Why just Christianity in a country that is historically a Christian one? How could anyone imagine that an eight inch palm cross would offend anyone?

That was the reason given by Mr Atkinson’s employers, Wakefield and District Housing, where he has worked for 15 years.

They say that the cross may “offend” people, or suggest that the organisation is Christian. What sort of person would be offended by it? And who would for one minute think that this one cross inside someone’s van meant the entire company was affiliated to the church?

Mr Atkinson who has refused to remove the cross is right to feel victimised, saying: “The treatment of Christians in this country is becoming diabolical, but I will stand up for my faith.”

But that standing up could cost him his job next month when he faces a disciplinary hearing for gross misconduct.

How grossly unfair by a company which strongly promotes “inclusive” policies and allows employees to wear religious symbols at work. One of its officials told Mr Atkinson’s union representative that it would tolerate a Muslim female employee in a burka in its official colours.

Mr Atkinson said: “The past few months have been unbelievable, a nightmare. I have worked in the coal mines and served 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.”

His ordeal began last year when he was told to remove the cross and he asked why. The company said they had received a “reasonable “ request to remove the symbol from the official vehicle that could be seen by members of the public. There is nothing reasonable about such a request and other faiths would not see the cross as offensive. I reckon it will have been a politically correct bigot who has complained.

Mr Atkinson who has suffered sleepless nights and been reduced to tears after being summoned to a series of preliminary disciplinary investigations has come to this conclusion: “I can only think the company is motivated by fear of offending ethnic minorities.”

It is wrong that he should be in this position. It is unfair and intolerant. It smacks of discrimination and when a good man can be so unjustly treated for laying a symbol of his faith in his van, it all verges on persecution.

There’s one question we should all be asking ourselves: Is this the kind of country we want to live in where our freedom of speech and actions are being sacrificed on the altar of equality?