The UK Christian think tank Ekklesia says that arguments like the BA Cross row are increasing because old 'Christendom' assumptions about a privileged place for Christianity, and its identification with British culture, are collapsing. They urge a less heated, more reflective approach.
In his book, Faith and Politics After Christendom, Ekklesia's Jonathan Bartley says some Christians are seeking aggressively to reassert their influence and profile - while others reject this as incompatible with a faith focused on community, service, peacemaking and identification with those at the margins of society.
"We need a radically different spirit in this conversation," says Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow. "Rather than trying to restrict each other's symbols or seeking to impose our beliefs on others, we should commit to making space for difference in public life."
The think tank also questions the way some Christians are quickly resorting to language about persecution. "Given that Britain is a pretty open society, this kind of talk lacks proportion and is grossly insensitive towards many different minority groups across the world who face prison or death for their convictions," says Barrow.
The think-tank points out further that:
(i) For some, particularly those born outside historic Christendom, the cross is a symbol of oppression and violence
(ii) Crosses are not required items for most Christians, and many Protestants refuse to wear them at all
(iii) Within the first few centuries of Christianity it appears that crosses were rarely used as a symbol by Christians