A fascinating, colorful tale of religious bigotry and its defeat

When British Airways told London check-in worker Nadia Eweida that she would either have to remove her necklace with its tiny thumbnail-sized cross or hide it under her livery, she refused. Ms Eweida noted that BA allows Sikhs to wear their turbans, although it isn�t required by their faith, and Muslims to wear hijabs, although neither is that a religious requirement. She claims that as a Coptic Christian, wearing her tiny cross to show she is a Christian is part of her religion.

BA, a bullying adherent, despite its name, of multi-culti tolerance for anything as long as it is not British, suspended her without pay. Ms Eweida had a fight on her hands.

To everyone’s amazement, the incident has taken off with a strong tailwind and an amazing cast of characters. Led by the Archbishop of York, who is a black immigrant from Uganda and an articulate, devout and reasoned man, there’s been an unexpected storm of Anglican fury among the supposedly non-religious Brits. A few days later, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who everyone had thought was a Muslim in mufti, announced that the Church of England would sell its �6.6m ($12.7m) shares in BA unless they allow employees to wear a visible cross in keeping with adherents of other religions being allowed to advertise their own faiths. At the same time, Episcopalian churches worldwide rallied as one in support of Nadia Eweida and her right to wear her tiny cross, and threatened to advise hundreds of millions of parishioners not to fly BA.

And for the record, around 100 British MPs, including a Hindu, Conservative Shailesh Vara, and a Muslim, Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, censured BA in the House of Commons.

Faced with this colorful cast of characters, a cowed BA chief curled up and backed down, hoist
by his own petard. In a dazzling display of unintended consequences, he demonstrated that, in the long run, Ms Eweida�s tiny cross proved more powerful than BA�s multi-million pound massive tailfin logo and designer livery.

Discuss this post at the Chicago Boyz Forum.