Hot cross ban 'nonsensical'

A SUFFOLK race equality group today said taking the crosses off hot cross buns was “nonsensical”.Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) said the move by The Oaks Primary School “undermines other, more important, measures to reflect diversity” - and pointed out that many religious minorities are not offended by Christian symbols.

A SUFFOLK race equality group today said taking the crosses off hot cross buns was “nonsensical”.

Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) said the move by The Oaks Primary School “undermines other, more important, measures to reflect diversity” - and pointed out that many religious minorities are not offended by Christian symbols.

As first revealed in The Evening Star on Saturday, The Oaks' headteacher Tina Jackson asked suppliers to remove the cross from their hot cross buns.

Miss Jackson said the cross - which recognises the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ - has been removed as a mark of respect towards their Jehovah's Witness pupils.

But race equality officer Gita Banerji said: “My experience shows me that most people, regardless of faith or background, do not support these measures and are baffled by the controversy.

“Several religious groups, like Muslims, Baha'is, Hindus and Sikhs, would recognise Jesus or his teachings as being worthy of respect. In some countries, like India, people are used to living alongside and celebrating and sharing in each other's festivals.

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“The people who are worried that specifically Christian festivals or symbols are offensive are simply not listening to people from minority backgrounds, who find it incredible that a cultural tradition of the majority of people in this country should be maligned in this fashion.”

Albert Berwick, a minister with the Ipswich Cavendish Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, said at the time that the cross is a pagan symbol of fertility and that the Bible says things of a pagan origin should not be worshipped.

Mr Berwick today said: “I think I agree with ISCRE. If they were being used in a religious context, we would want to stand back, but I don't think we would have a problem with them being part of a school lunch. I probably wouldn't buy a hot cross bun but I wouldn't be offended by it - intolerance is the root of so much heartache.”

Do you think the school was right to take the crosses off hot cross buns? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

For readers' reactions to the story see Letters - page 7 and 8.

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