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Archive for August, 2010

I know I have touched on this previously, but it seems that the UK is edging closer and closer to a state whereby freedom of religious expression, outside of the home and in places of worship, will be illegal.

I am referring to the case of Duke Amachree, who was dismissed for mentioning God in the workplace. An employment tribunal has ruled that it was reasonable for Wandsworth Council to dismiss Mr Amachree, after he was sacked for gross misconduct for suggesting to a client with an incurable illness not to give up hope and to try putting her faith in God.

It is admittedly quite difficult to get to the truth of the matter, Wandsworth Council claiming that the lady concerned was subject to a “half an hour barrage”,  Mr Amachree denying this, however it seems that the lady who made the initial complaint, did not want Mr Amachree to lose his job. I can understand, that particularly for us Brits, we find the prospect of those evangelising, embarrassing, uncomfortable, challenging, irritating and intrusive. I can understand that if it was deemed that Mr Amahcree had gone somewhat OTT in his attempts, then surely a verbal or written warning would have sufficed, particularly given that he had 18 years of unblemished service? Gross misconduct should not be applied to a misguided attempt at evangelisation. Gross misconduct, in my experience, is exactly that – conduct that is offensive, outrageous and unacceptable,  often incurring criminal charges, such as insider trading, downloading internet pornography at work, theft, engaging in bullying behaviour and discrimination. Attempting to help a client, albeit misguided help, is not a heinous offence, deserving of loss of job and income and does not fall into the same category.

What if, during this conversation Mr Amachree had become very passionate and animated about, homeopathy, a “remedy” of dubious value? What if he had suggested, in his capacity as housing officer, that perhaps his client should employ some Feng Shui to get all her energy correctly channeled? What about had he suggested reflexology, or reiki or some other new age mystical practice? I bet there is no way that he would have been sacked for gross misconduct, or indeed any action would have been taken, other than perhaps he was told to tone down his enthusiasm.

Dawkins would no doubt put Christianity and homeopathy in the same category when it comes to the curing of diseases, but actually it seems that what was being suggested was something of a spiritual remedy, something that might actually bring comfort to the client, as opposed to any sort of cure. Besides, this doesn’t seem to be the issue, what seems to be at stake is the fact that Mr Amachree was preaching religion which has proved such an anathema to the authorities.

Let’s face it, who of us, have not been enthusiastic about something in our lives.? How many of us have not, at some point in our working lives, extolled the virtues of a particular lifestyle, something that we are passionate about to our colleagues. I’ve had to sit there at times and turn a deaf ear to colleagues telling me about Feng Shui-ing my office or weekends about tantric sex “you really should go and and learn how to align your chakras”. People tend to be passionate about positive influences in their live and wish to share them, whether that be the latest app for the Ipad, or the Cambridge Diet. Indeed I even had one colleague try to enrol me on an Alpha Course. It was precisely Mr Amachree’s passion for his faith or religion that caused the problem here and for which he has been most unfairly penalised.

What is it with this country, why can’t we tolerate any display of religion? Or we can, after all most people do not seem to support a ban of the burka, it being an expression of religious faith, freedom, but so long as that expression does not extend to any verbal contact, or is not mainstream Christianity.

You can believe what you like, but don’t seek to “impose” it on others say the so-called liberals. Well that’s fine, but my belief involves an element of evanglisation, attempting to share and pass on the good news, not treating it as some cosy club or party to which only the select few are invited. The imposition cuts both ways. Those with a Christian faith are having a silence imposed on them and are placed under fear of losing their jobs. This man thought he could see a way of helping someone, and spoke up, in the same way that someone might attempt to offer a different piece of constructive advice. Christians are effectively being gagged because others don’t like or wish to hear what they have to say.

I’m sorely tempted to make a case against the next employee of any organisation who might wish to make any helpful suggestions about homeopathy, Feng Shui or any other such dubious practices which they think might help me. Or would that be a restriction on free speech?

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Grade 8 Gay

I made the fatal error of venturing out to work on Friday having completely forgotten that it was Pride weekend in Brighton. Now any event that forces me to sit in standstill traffic for over an hour on the Preston Road, is going to arouse a certain amount of ire, without factoring in the added element of infant experiencing what can only appear to be famine levels of hunger, judging by the screams, but my journey descended further into the realms of dire sitcom territory with the ensuing conversation from my 6 year old.

Mummy what’s Gay?

Another word for happy darling. Why?

It says over there Gay Pride Parade 7 August. Can we go please?

No I don’t think so darling, there’s no way to get into town tomorrow and no buses.

Oh, but there’s going to be a fair – Look!

Why are people proud of the parade. Is it because they are happy?

Yes, that’s right darling *breathes sigh of relief*

Have they achieved something really special, like I did when I got to Level 8 of SuperMario? I didn’t think I could do it and I kept trying and now I’ve rescued Princess Peach, except I haven’t, because it was Luigi superguide, but I kept trying and now I’ve unlocked all the levels, or Luigi has, but I helped him.

You have to keep trying mummy, that’s what I always say. I kept trying at the piano and violin and now I’m really good. Is the parade to celebrate being gay at Grade 8? I’m very gay a lot of the time, so when can I take my Grade 1?

Tell you what darling, special treat as we’re stuck in traffic, why don’t you put on Nanny Mcphee on DVD?

Yay!

A few minutes later.

Mummy, look over there, that man is wearing bin liner knickers.

AAAAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA (manic cackling).

Has Imogen woken up?

AAAAAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (even more disturbing manic cackling)

Mummy look, that man has got no bottom on his trousers. His BUM is hanging out. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Mummy, mummy, mummy! Look. That lady thinks she’s a dog! She’s wearing a SPIKY DOG COLLAR. AAAAARGH! Look, why is that other woman holding her lead, like Charlie. Are they playing a game of Lady and the Tramp?

Yes darling I think they probably are.

Mummy, who are the ladyboys of Bangkok?

Right, well they are boys who like to dress up as ladies to make people laugh.

Why?

Well because they do. What would you do if you saw a boy in a dress?

I’d laugh. AAAAARGH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

But mummy they are wearing feather boas and sparkly swimming costumes. They look really pretty. Can I be a ladyboy when I grow up?

Well, no, because you are a girl, so you won’t need to dress up like one.

Well I’m still going to wear a sparkly costume and feathers and pretend I’m one.

That’s nice dear.

Can we go and see them please?

*mind tracks back to when I saw Danny LaRue in Paignton aged six and checks for any lasting damage, then realises that Fr. Robin will throw a blue fit if it gets out that his wife has taken his daughter to see the LadyBoys of Bangkok. Not to mention scenarios at school when they ask what the children did over the summer and drawings of ladyboys are produced*

It doesn’t matter, look there’s one over there. I’m going to give her my biggest smile and wave.Hello Mrs Ladyboy, my name is Isabella and one day I’m going to grow up and be the prettiest ladyboy in the world and get my grade 8 at being gay”.

Oh my sainted trousers!

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