A Christian threatened with the sack for displaying a small cross in his company van looks set to reach a compromise agreement with his employer.
Colin Atkinson has agreed to move the palm cross from the van’s dashboard to the outside of the glove box, and his boss has removed a poster of Che Guevara from his office wall.
The agreement has been hailed as a victory for common sense by commentators and church leaders. His case was supported by the Christian Legal Centre.
Mr Atkinson had displayed the cross for 15 years, but bosses at Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) told him to remove it because it breached rules on ‘neutrality’.
Meanwhile, the company had allowed Mr Atkinson’s boss to display a poster of socialist radical, Che Guevara, in his office.
A WDH official also said it would allow a Muslim member of staff to wear a burka in company colours.
Muslim, Sikh and Hindu groups came to Mr Atkinson’s aide, saying they were not in the least bit offended by the sight of a cross.
He was also supported by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, and the current housing minister, Grant Shapps.
Mr Atkinson says he is delighted. “It is the best Easter present I could have wished for,” he said.
He added: “There is no triumphalism but I feel very positive about the fact that Christians can successfully stand up for their rights.”
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, commented: “I’m so glad. All that was needed was a little bit of compassion and understanding. Where there is a bit of common sense we can find a resolution.”
And Ann Widdecombe, a former Home Office minister and a Roman Catholic also expressed delight at the news.
The head of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Minichiello Williams, hit out at equality laws passed in the last decade. She said they “have acted as a political lightning rod to eliminate Christian morality from the workplace”.
She added that “true tolerance is accepting the difference, not silencing or eliminating” Christians from public life.
A spokesman for Mr Atkinson’s employers, WDH, said: “We are pleased to announce that after prolonged negotiations with Colin and his trade union over the past nine months, we are on the verge of reaching an amicable solution, allowing Colin to be close to his faith while maintaining WDH values.”