Ministers deny right to wear cross
The Archbishop of York has attacked the government for denying that Christians have a right to wear the cross at work.
Dr John Sentamu hit out at "meddling" after it emerged that ministers were fighting a case brought by two women at the European Court of Human Rights.
The pair, Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin, claim that they were discriminated against when their employers barred them from wearing the symbol.
Mrs Eweida's case dates from 2006 when she was suspended by British Airways for breaching BA's uniform code; Mrs Chaplin was barred from working on wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after refusing to hide the cross she wore on a necklace chain.
Lawyers for the two women claim that the protection under Article Nine of the Human Rights Act for "manifesting" religion covers things that are not a "requirement of the faith".
But according to the Sunday Telegraph, the government's submission to the Strasbourg court dismisses their argument as "ill-founded".
"The Government submit that... the applicants' wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was not a manifestation of their religion or belief within the meaning of Article 9, and... the restriction on the applicants' wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was not an 'interference' with their rights protected by Article 9."
The response, prepared by the Foreign Office, adds: "In neither case is there any suggestion that the wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was a generally recognised form of practising the Christian faith, still less one that is regarded (including by the applicants themselves) as a requirement of the faith."
Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show, Dr Sentamu said: "My view is that this is not the business of government actually. They are beginning to meddle in areas that they ought not to. I think they should leave that to the courts to make a judgment.
"If someone wanted to manifest their belief as a Christian that they wanted to wear a cross - after all at their baptism they are sealed with a cross of Christ - so if they decided to say 'I know I am sealed with it, but I am going to wear it', I think that is a matter really for people and that we should allow it. The government should not raise the bar so high that in the end they are now being unjust."