If you enjoyed the BBC’s television drama ‘The Tudors’, then you will know that Britain hasn’t always been a country of religious tolerance and peace. Sadly, there has recently been a spate of unfortunate cases involving prejudice against Christians which seem very sad to me.
As a nation we have a deserved reputation for religious tolerance, and have become home to many diverse religious groups. While this is to be welcomed, our history shows that we are, at our heart, a Christian country. Indeed, Christianity has been central to many of our greatest achievements. Parliament started in a monastery. The churches established nearly all our early schools and hospitals and it was Christians who led the way in getting slavery outlawed.
But, in our bid to prove a religiously tolerant country I believe we are going too far the other way? Recently we have seen a succession of pernicious attacks on Christianity by aggressive secularism.
A fortnight ago, Caroline Petrie, a nurse from Weston-super-Mare, was suspended without pay by North Somerset Primary Care Trust, because she offered to pray for one of her patients. Despite the fact that the patient hadn’t complained, Mrs Petrie faced disciplinary action on the grounds of failing to demonstrate a “personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity”. The fact that Mrs. Petrie showed obvious compassion for her patient’s wellbeing seems to have been irrelevant to this health trust. Personally, I’d take the compassion and ditch the bureaucratic box ticking which is corroding NHS care.
Last week we heard the case of a mother who was suspended from her job in a school after she defended her child who was in trouble for talking about Christianity in the playground.
In the worst case of all, also highlighted last week, common sense as well as compassion took a back seat to political correctness. This case involved a foster mother and churchgoer in her 50s who had fostered over 80 children. A 16 year old girl in her care decided to convert from Islam to Christianity. She has now been banned from fostering. The resulting loss of income also means she has lost the house she was renting. Worse still, another girl for whom she was providing a loving home has been taken back into care. All this despite the fact the girl was of an age to determine her own religion and says it was her own choice. Incredibly this comes just after the government has made a frantic appeal for another 5,000 fostering families to come forward.
Are we really saying that as a society we no longer have a place for compassionate Christians who serve the public good?