Sunday, December 20, 2009

One Rule for Christians...

The Mail on Sunday's lead story this morning concerns a teacher who has been sacked for offering comfort to the parent of a sick child by offering to pray for the her. The teacher specialised in teaching children too ill to attend school. The parent made a complaint and the teacher was sacked by her managers.

Let's, for a moment, swap the religion of the teacher. Does anyone seriously imagine the teacher would have been sacked if she had been a muslim, and offered prayers for the child? Of course not. And rightly so.

What a warped society we have become when a parent makes a vexatious complaint like this, and when the teacher, who clearly meant no harm, is then told by her employer that sharing her faith could be interpreted as "bullying".


Unknown said...

The Church of England needs to assert its authority in matters like this.
It has a much bigger role to play in society and should be setting the moral agenda.
The next time a new Archbishop of Canterbury in appointed the Government should appoint a very strong leader to take his place alongside our countries leaders.

javelin said...

Bulling has nothing to do with it.

It was the closest rule that the official could find to cover themselves.

Yet I do not blame the offical, they were only responding to the cultural tone set up their masters.

The only people to blame for this are not the MP's or the Ministers, Lords, but the Ministers with Legal backgrounds or local reasons (Harriet Harman and Jack Straw) come to mind. Who set the policies to implement these law.

Humans have an innate sense of fairness and justice, just like they have a sense of beauty. When this is violated we balk.

anarki said...

If you went to see a doctor, and he said that he would cure your disease by dancing for you, would you glad that he's sharing his beliefs despite how crazy they are?

DiscoveredJoys said...

Case 1: A simple "I believe in miracles, would you like me to say a pray for your child tonight?" might be seen as a bit loopy and irritating if you are not a believer (or a believer of the same faith). Not having your services retained would seem a bit OTT.

Case 2: But if you had banged on for 10 minutes about your own miraculous escape from death and how good God was, and how only those whose faith wasn't strong enough would continue to suffer... and the say something like "Lets all get down on our knees and pray to Almighty God!" Then repeating the offer and testimony on another occasion despite being rebuffed the first time... Being denied the opportunity to spread your insensitivity around seems very appropriate.

Its not a matter of faith, its a matter of being blinded to the offence being caused.

Anonymous said...

I'm an atheist, but I would have no problem if I (or one of my loved ones) were ill and an individual of any religious persuasion offered up a prayer to their deity (or deities) on my behalf - in fact I be quite comforted by such a display of friendship and affection.

Keep religion out of politics by all means, but methods or beliefs individuals adhere to to guide and comfort them is their business and their business alone.

Graham said...

I think I would be very tempted to complain if a teacher, carer, or other public employee tried to press their religious views on me.

However I would not expect the person concerned to be sacked (at least for a first offence), but rather to be told to keep their views to themselves in future.

Goodwin said...

Clearly this is nonsense - but what would a Conservative government do differently?

simon said...

It depends completely on the circs of the case. A polite suggestion, turned down and not repeated would be one thing. A lengthy evangelical screed full of emotional pressure might be another. The story has been written to the 'Christians are discriminated' agenda so it's favourable to the Christian lady but who knows if it's the full story?

Twig said...

I wonder what motivated the parent to complain? What harm would a prayer cause?

justoneglass said...

Sorry Iain but I have to disagree with you on this one. Religion - of all types - has no place in schools, hospitals, or any other establishment in any way related to the public sphere. Had I been in the position of the parent concerned, I too would have made the same complaint. If you must "do religion" then please do it at home, privately. Don't try to foist it on others.

Joe Public said...

Perhaps the parent should be investigated to determine if he/she provides the 'correct' environment in which to raise a child.

If the child is then determined to be "at risk", maybe Social Services should step in?????

Unknown said...

It really doesn't sound like we've heard the full story does it?

How could it honestly have ended up like this if this was the full story? Is the Mail a publication likely to have told a fully truthful & unslanted story?

I remember when my mum was in the hospice quite a few roaming evangelicals tried to basically take over our emotions with their own God interpretations. Some like the chaplain were obviously much more respectful but others were like the ASBO guy on Oxford St who shouts about fornication through a megaphone. It was very difficult and scarring time anyway and I've even ended up subsequently despising McMillan nurses but it shows how viscerally torrid things can get.

So thinking about it from these parents point of view, imagine, your kid is dangerously ill and there's some overbearing stranger trying to make it all about them.

spatuletail said...

I'm a teacher, in service for 10 years and the Union rep.

You can't be sacked for offering to pray for someone. It's a ridiculous story and one that an intelligent person should realise is not as it appears.

And that goes for all those who have replied, seeimingly desparate to be offended by it or attempting to justify it.

Anonymous said...

Wake up people, before it is too late..

There has been a deliberate campaign by the Left over many years to destroy all the glue that binds our society, all traditions, all customs, all history, all shared culture. They have undermined all confidence and stability. They have undermined all decent aspects of our society.

They have been able to do so much damage because they control broadcast news. Did you not realise or were you too brainwashed?

This is to enable them to impose their new society on the ashes.

This story, and many many others, is the result.

You just watch the telly and haven’t a clue what is going on.

Craig Ranapia said...

What a warped society we have become when a parent makes a vexatious complaint like this, and when the teacher, who clearly meant no harm, is then told by her employer that sharing her faith could be interpreted as "bullying".

Oh what patronising claptrap, Ian. You know, how about if some nurse offered (quite sincerely and "meaning no harm") to pray the gay out of your sick husband? Or decided this was the time to open a dialogue about religion?

Or would you find it a rather obnoxious and objectionable abuse of a position of power over a vulnerable person? I certainly know what this devout Catholic would have to say -- and precious little of it would be printable on a public blog.

Craig Ranapia said...

Let's, for a moment, swap the religion of the teacher. Does anyone seriously imagine the teacher would have been sacked if she had been a muslim, and offered prayers for the child?

Oh let's do that Ian -- I have the oddest feeling The Mail would be taking a very different position if Olive Jones was a Muslim or some kind of New Age cultist.

Nicki UK (Trans Authoress) said...

The one where the christian faith is the devil and the rest are gods.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure the Mail has the article in a complete and balanced light? It doesn't have a reputation for such

Whilst I might applaud a separation of religion from State, I had thought that it hadn't quite happened here in the UK yet. The monarch is still the head of the church, and prayers are said everyday in parliament.

Sometimes, I do wonder about tolerance of others and from both the protagonist and you Iain. After all, you have the freedom to say this and I will defend that right, but I don't have to agree with your premise

Unknown said...

I can imagine that it could be quite nausiating and uncomfortable to have a teacher taking advantage of a member of your family who happens to be ill and therefore vulnerable to push their religous beliefs when what they should be doing is helping them with their schoolwork.
It does seem a bit excessive to terminate the teachers contract unless ofcourse she has been warned about this sort of behaviour in the past.

Dave H said...

It is compulsory to 'celebrate diversity' Has anyone ever produced any evidence that as much diversity as possible is a positive thing for a company, institution or even a society? It's merely an untested assertion, elevated to the level of a fanatical religion.

After all, surely some of the most stable, benign and tolerant societies, near the top of the league for every quality of life indicator, have been the Scandanavian counties with (until very recently) a relatively homogenous population.

rob's uncle said...

It seems that the matter has not in fact been resolved but the Mail, with its usual careless disregard for the facts, has run it as it had been; the final 2 paras of the story:

' . . Nick Yates, a spokesman for North Somerset Council, said: ‘Olive Jones has worked as a supply teacher, working with the North Somerset Tuition service. A complaint has been made by a parent regarding Olive. This complaint is being investigated.

‘To complete the investigation we need to speak to Olive and we have offered her a number of dates so this can happen. At the moment we are waiting for her to let us know which date is convenient for her.’'

Anonymous said...

Yep I agree - muslim praying for muslim ok.

But assuming the story to be true it must surely be against all employment law to sack anyone without due warning and process?

In any event since when did praying for someone, unwilling or not become a sacking offence?

But when we have yet another idiot as Archbishop of Cantebury - what do we expect.

John said...

A disgraceful state this country is in.

I Squiggle said...

I agree with Simon @11.38

The problem with stories like this is that we don’t get the full story. For the person in question to be sacked, with employment law being what it is, it tells me there is something else going on here (but heck, when has that ever stopped the MoS running what they want the story to be) . Perhaps we might get the full story when the inevitable Industrial Tribunal takes place. If the offer for prayer was softly suggested once, fine. If it was repeatedly suggested, after previous declines, so verging on insisted upon, then very much not fine. The in between has plenty of grey area.

Will said...

@I Squiggle

"For the person in question to be sacked, with employment law being what it is, it tells me there is something else going on here (but heck, when has that ever stopped the MoS running what they want the story to be)"

The MoS made it clear in the text that she was a supply teacher, working on a timesheet basis, placed at the school, working for a employment agency. Employment law when it comes to agency workers means you can have your employment terminated for pretty much any reason with little recourse.

Will said...

I squiggle:

What industrial tribunal? She was a supply teacher working without a contract with the school being paid by an employment agency. As such, she has (virtually) no recourse if the school decides she is no longer required, which in itself is a shocking state of affairs in the twenty-first century.

From DirectGov:

Jimmy said...

I'd be more impressed if you had a credible source for the story. I see the Mail group is off the naughty step now.

Ian M said...

Reading the Mail, the Council involved is North Somerset (a unitary authority). Ir is overwhelmingly Tory/ So WTF is a Tory Council persecuting Christians. The Leader of the Council, Nigel Ashton (email should have on the phone last night rescinding the dismissal and indeed brining disciplinary proceedings (with the intention of dismissal)aginst Kaye Palmer-Green and unit co-ordinator Karen Robinson whose action is sacking Mrs Jones have brought the Council into national disrepute

English Pensioner said...

The time will come when we are unable to get teachers for state schools. Not only do teachers have to put up with violence without redress, but also have to put up with this sort of thing.
When my sister entered teaching some 50 years ago, there was strong competition to get into the teacher training colleges; Now the government has to advertise continuously on television in order to try and find teachers. Is it surprising?

I Squiggle said...

@will 3.10 &3.16

Good point, I should have read the story through. I’ve just tried again, but still can’t quite get to the end without reaching for the pillow. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure they will have to come up with a reason for terminating the contract, no? I acknowledge we’re moving away from the central point of the original blogpost, but employment law is a minefield at the moment, even when employing temporary/contract staff.

Little Black Sambo said...

"Sorry Iain but ... Religion - of all types - has no place in schools, hospitals, or any other establishment in any way related to the public sphere."
Well, that's settled then.

Keith Elliott said...

Iain, surely you of all people are not going to simply accept this story on the basis of an article by any paper in the Daily Mail stable?

I used to be an Assistant Head, in an English Comp with responsibility for improving the quality of teaching in my school, and assure you it is nearly impossible to sack a school teacher, even if they are absolutely useless at the job.

There has to be more to this story than the Sunday Mail is letting on.

Charles said...

Perhaps more interesting is the fact that the parent put in a formal complaint after the first offer. This was not passed on to the accused.

This raises a couple of points:

1. What a depressing society where the parent felt it was not enough to say "no thank you" but had to make a formal complaint (unless it was a comment in passing to which the authority over-reacted)

2. What bureaucratic failure and lack of a sense of natural justice - to, in the first place, fail to pass on the complaint and then, secondly, to cancel the teacher's contract regardless of their failure to warn her

Simon Gardner said...

We have had a number of cases of these predatory christians. It’s about time they started to behave themselves.

And how odd that this miscreant knows the last one - Nurse Petrie. That’s too much of a coincidence. And what’s the history? The Mail doesn’t tell us?

Unknown said...

Charles, unless the LEA were a bunch of bureaucratic and anally retentive obsessive with a desire to make more work for themselves, then I can't see the caveat to your first point holding water. However, with regards to your comment about the parents all I can say is that's the way the educational world is these days. The balance has shifted far too much towards parents' rights

As for point 2, the supply teachers contract is with the supply agency (typically an outfit like Crapita). The school has a contract with the agency to provide supply staff and the teacher has a contract with the agency to provide work. In cases where a parent or guardian has made a complaint, the usual approach is to ask the agency for someone else. The Head Teacher may speak to the supply teacher directly, or may talk to the agency who should then pass on any reasons as to why the school no longer requires their services.

It's the way the contract/agency marketplace works. Doesn't mean it's right, doesn't mean we have to like it, but there you are.

The thing that amazes me the most is just how much faith (sic) people still put in the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday. Personally, if the Mail published an article stating that the Earth was round, I'd still want to second source it before giving the article any credibility. Some people though prefer to see and read what they want to rather than check facts first. I'm not sure why, possibly because it is easier that way?

Simon Gardner said...

@Mike Law said... “I'm an atheist, but I would have no problem if I (or one of my loved ones) were ill and an individual of any religious persuasion offered up a prayer to their deity”

Whereas I would be absolutely outraged big time. (Though the nurse’s offence was greater. She deserved the sack immediately. It’s disgraceful she was reinstated.)

Quite apart from the parents, my nine-year-old self would have been, if anything, even more offended by this “teacher”.

Richard Holloway said...

This story strikes me as having more than one side. A gentle offer of prayer, politely offered and just as politely refused would not have been commented on.
Was the evangelicalism more forceful than the Daily Mail alludes to?

Paul Wright said...

@Richard Holloway: "testimony" in this context is evangelical jargon for a story about how someone became a Christian, usually intended as an evangelistic tool. So yes, this is more than an offer to pray.

The Mail also says the teacher had been warned about similar things before.

@Iain Dale: is there a case you're aware of where a Muslim teacher did something similar and wasn't censured? I'd hope the school would have done the same thing if it had been a Muslim, a Pagan, or an atheist telling the kid there's no God (though I doubt the Mail's reporting would have been the same in those cases, for some reason).

Tom King said...

"Religion - of all types - has no place in schools, hospitals, or any other establishment in any way related to the public sphere. Had I been in the position of the parent concerned, I too would have made the same complaint. If you must "do religion" then please do it at home, privately. Don't try to foist it on others."

You are foisting your lack of religion on me.

Twig said...

An Obituary printed in the London Times -

"Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair;
- and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing."

Anonymous said...

@ Simon Gardner 8:10

Fair enough!

BlackDog said...

Iain, you might want to read this analysis of that story

True Belle said...

Religion is most confusing. We will be celebrating the Nativity through out the land.

We are taught to believe in a Jew who offered salvation to the world.

A man from a far off land has influenced our deep inner soul/ spiritual sanctuary for centuries.

The story about the English schoolteacher who offended the Sudanese in Khartoum because she referred to a teddy bear as M-----d, and was then told she had offended all Muslims and would be punished by a lashing is surely a NOT the direction petty little Brit officialdom wants to take here at home in the UK.

Does no one listen and learn, the parent who complained should be told in no uncertain terms that her complaint was too vexatious and sectarian for a decent society to take seriously. The teacher in question should have her job restored now.

................................. said...

"sharing her faith"? What if you didn't want it?

Any atheist would be insulted by someone offering to pray for them. Apart from anything else, it insults your intelligence.

Look at what it actually is and not as some sort of general, undefined nice sentiment.

Incidentally, why is the word verification "moongit"? :)

David L Rattigan said...

If this lady "merely" offered to pray and left it at that, I agree the sacking is ridiculous. However, I know better than to take a Christian "persecution" story like this at face value, especially coming from The Daily Mail.

I look forward to hearing more details before deciding how ridiculous this story really is.

Simon Gardner said...

So as suspected. This god-botherer was a repeat offender.

How devious are the ways of "christian martyrs".

Jane said...

There have been all sorts of religious rituals over the years. From voodoo to female castration .... if either of these two options had been pressed onto this family instead of 'harmless prayer', would that have been ok? I'm sure it would have been meant well, after all, by the people who believe in these things.

You have to look at how things will be received and the culture of those being asked to do so, before you inflict your particular method of faith-healing on them. Not to do so is rude, patronizing and very ignorant.

Anyway, something tells me this lady won't be relying so much on prayer in the future!

David L Rattigan said...

Thanks for the link, Simon. This kind of thing really makes me angry.

As a liberal and a gay man I belong to two groups that more than anyone else tend to get the blame for the supposed intolerance of Christians these days. Yet in the cases reported by conservative Christians and taken up by The Daily Mail, more often than not the predictable accusations of "persecution" and "intolerance" don't have a leg to stand on once the other side of the story is revealed.

McPuss said...

The Tabloid Watch post on this article has a rather more balanced - and accurate - account of this story than Iain Dale has chosen to believe.