Sunday, 7 October 2007


Apparently, clergy who wear dog-collars out in public are at risk of being attacked, and should remove them when off-duty, according to a study by National Churchwatch.

Now, obviously I don't want clergy (or anyone, for that matter) to be subject to attack, publicly or privately. But I have a few issues with this advice. Firstly, it only serves to play into the hands of aggressors. If somebody is provoked to violence by something like that it says far more about the aggressor than it does the concept of wearing a dog collar. Secondly, it seems to be another example of Christians having to make concessions to secularism when other religious groups aren't; if you replace the words 'clergy' and 'dog-collar' (which in itself is not a very complimentary description of a 'clerical collar') with 'Rabbi' and 'Yarmulke', I would imagine a fair degree of outrage in certain quarters that people were having to take these steps to ensure their safety.

Finally, I would quibble the notion of 'off-duty' clergy. Certainly I think it would be unreasonable for parishioners to harangue their clergy with non-urgent matters in Tescos, but the idea that clergy are ever truly off-duty mistakens religious vocation for shift work. Religious dress can be a signal to other people of adherence to a particular belief system, but it can also be a reminder to oneself of one's commitments.

(And before you ask, I don't think that what I've written there is at odds with my earlier post about abstinence jewellery in schools. Different issue).

1 comment:

Richard said...

It is unfortunate that Christians and Christianity are often perceieved as fair game, yet other faiths and traditions are not (and then, of course, there are those who have no respect for anyone).

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