CROSS BANNED! You couldn’t have had a more topical story for Easter.

Nurse Shirley Chaplin was banned from working on wards by an NHS trust for wearing her crucifix of 30 years.

She told an employment tribunal: “Muslims are treated preferably to Christians. I feel upset and persecuted. My belief is genuine and I am here to bear witness to it.”

Six bishops have weighed in, saying: “It would seem that an NHS trust would rather lose the skills of an experienced nurse and divert scarce resources to fighting a legal case instead of treating patients. This dedicated nurse has worn her cross every day since her Confirmation as a sign of her Christian faith, a faith which led to her vocation in the first place.”

Whenever one of these loony hearings occurs, we are told that Christian imagery is officially disallowed in the workplace because it might prove “offensive to members of other faiths”. Well, I live and work in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities and I have never heard a Muslim, Hindu, Jew or Zoroastrian take offence at the sight of a cross.

Contrary to what you would believe if you set any store by these daft legal cases, there are oceans of religious tolerance in Britain today. Our difficulties are caused entirely by the increasing influence on public policy of aggressive secularists.

There is a vicious secular establishment in Britain which aims to remove religion from the public sphere and to deny members of the various faiths any input into national life.

This is an ignorant, aggressive and crude denial of our history.

There is colossal irony in the fact that it is a nurse who has been forbidden to wear her cross – because nursing itself is something formed and developed out of Christian devotion, out of the religious life. Why do you think head nurses are called “sisters”?

Until recently nursing was seen as a vocation, a religious calling born out of Christian charity. There is an ancient order of nurses called The Sisters of Charity. There is the Red Cross. Will they try to ban that next?

Fair-minded people should take a stand against the aggressive secularists and point out that religious faith makes an immense contribution to public life. I know there are Catholic paedophiles and Anglican fraudsters, Methodists who fiddle their expenses and, no doubt, Seventh Day Adventists with their hands in the till. But these miscreants are a tiny minority.

And no doubt there is the odd child-molester, fraud and cheat among humanists and among the shoals of trendy agnostics who live in north London and write their bum-clenchingly, politically-correct columns for the left-wing papers.

These secularists like to be regarded for their liberalism. But they are not liberal at all. A liberal, in the broad, non-party-political sense, is someone who goes by the wholesome rule of thumb of live and let live. Your new “liberal”, the aggressive secularist, believes in live and let live – except, of course, for those with whom he disagrees. Religious toleration has been a mark of a free society at least since the days of the Roman Empire when the Caesars permitted freedom of worship in their domains – provided religious adherents paid their taxes and kept the peace.

But Caesar himself was more tolerant than our aggressive secularists.

■ Peter Mullen is Rector of St Michael’s, Cornhill, in the City of London, and Chaplain to the Stock Exchange.