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?