Keep it buttoned, please

Yes, respect for religion is mandatory, why do you ask?

For the better part of 30 years, British Airways has operated a uniform policy without incident. The rules allow check-in staff and cabin crew to wear jewellery, but only underneath their shirts. There are many reasons for this, one of them being that people working at check-in have to lean over and tag bags. A necklace could easily get in the way…British Airways is at fault. For it is mishandling for a religious issue, betraying both its multicultural principles and a huge potential market. For, Ms Eweida not only has a strong argument of freedom of religious expression on her side, but also hundreds of millions of potential passengers. The 2001 census showed that 71.1 per cent of Britons identify themselves as Christians. According to Aquarius, a marketing consultancy focused on religious affairs, there are 2.1 billion people who call themselves Christian, by comparison with 1.1 billion who describe themselves as secular, non-religious, agnostic or atheist. The devout represent a powerful market: The Passion of the Christ has grossed $613 million at box offices worldwide…There are a growing number of Christians who feel threatened by secularism…By sticking to its guidelines on uniforms, BA is insensitively, perhaps unintentionally, appearing to use its professional code to make a secular case. People of faith expect not just tolerance, but respect. BA needs to show it.

Uh? BA has a longstanding and reasonable rule about external jewelry, which all in an instant turns out to be a violation of freedom of religious expression as well as a foolish flouting of the, um, hunger for a sight of external jewelry on the part of Christians, who are more numerous than atheists and who made Mel Gibson’s horrible sadism-porn flick a lot of money, therefore, BA is inthenthitive, and thus we see that ‘people of faith’ expect not just tolerance but ‘respect’ and therefore BA is obliged to show it. There’s a good knockdown argument for you!

No but seriously. What is this idea that people ‘expect’ ‘respect’ and that therefore everyone else ‘needs’ to give it to them? Why hasn’t that imbecilic and tiresome idea been nipped in the bud yet? People can expect anything and everything they like; that doesn’t oblige the rest of us to give it to them. I can sashay around the place announcing that I ‘expect’ everyone to fall down and knock their foreheads against the ground when I pass, but that doesn’t oblige them to oblige, does it. Expect away, ‘people of faith’, I don’t have to respect you unless you do something I consider respect-worthy. So get busy.

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