Monday, 12 December 2016

Just Another Under-Privileged Christian

Sister Sarah Kuteh.
Sarah Kuteh is no doubt an excellent nurse but her nursing skills are not in question, as least in so far as the medical needs of her patients are concerned.

Where her skills are called into question however is in the area of what she determines are their spiritual needs and in this matter, as a devout Christian, she perceives those needs wholly in terms of whether or not they agree with her. If they don't, they have a problem and, like it or not she is going to 'cure' their spiritual sickness too.

According to a report on the Daily Express, as an experienced nurse and a nursing sister since 2012, she had recently taken on the role of assessing the medical health of patients before going into surgery for Darent Valley Hospital, Dartford, Kent, run by Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust. Part of her assessment consisted of going through a completed questionnaire which included questions about the patients religious beliefs. Many patients chose to leave this blank, as is their entitlement. Many of these would have either had no religion or would have considered it irrelevant.

It was embarrassing for me – and painful after all I had done in my years as a nurse. I was told I couldn’t even speak to my colleagues. All I had done was to nurse from my heart. How could it be harmful to tell someone about Jesus?

Sarah Kuteh, quoted in the Daily Express
But to Sister Sarah Kuteh, the question was not at all irrelevant. Her patients should be Christian and should accept Jesus as their 'saviour' like any normal, spiritually healthy person, otherwise they were deficient in some way and definitely not ready for surgery. As a devout Christian of course, Sister Kuteh's God-given right to take advantage of their vulnerable position and force her religion on them far outweighed the right of her patients not to have their 'defective' views pointed out and to be told the terrible consequences of dying without accepting Jesus.

Despite discussing religion without the permission of patients being forbidden by her employer's guidelines for the role for which she was being paid, and despite being warned for breaching those guidelines last April, Sister Kuteh apparently decided her entitlement as a devout Christian meant she could disregard this. She felt her entitlement to exploit her position to preach to vulnerable patients outweighed her duty to carry out her employer's reasonable instructions and the right of patients not to be preached to. So she continued to preach, despite her assurance that she would not do so, and was suspended after three more complaints from patients in June and was sacked in August.

She is now taking her sacking to an industrial tribunal claiming unfair dismissal on the grounds that she was not shown the complaints against her.

Her case has now been raised an an issue by the Daily Express, which can normally rely on the knee-jerk outrage of its readers about stories of Christians not being privileged enough and having their sense of entitlement to special privileges called into question. Worryingly for those who value the right to not have Christians and other religious fundamentalists trying to foist their superstitions onto others, the Tory Government under Therese May seems to agree with them. Therese May, in her previous role as Home Secretary, had expressed hostility to the Human Rights Act, told Parliament a couple of weeks ago:

Of course we are now into the season of Advent and we have a very strong tradition of religious tolerance and freedom of speech and our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of.

I’m sure we would all want to ensure that people at work do feel they are able to speak about their faith and do feel they can speak quite freely about Christmas.

Well, no! 'Our Christian heritage' is not something we can all be proud of. There is a great deal we can and should be thoroughly ashamed of and many of us feel it's not our heritage anyway. It is the heritage of a small and decreasing minority in the UK and a heritage we have been actively moving away from as a society for several generations now. We have actively rejected and replaced a great deal of fundamental Christian teaching such as the inferior status of women, the entitlement of a ruling elite to govern us, the obscene and absurd laws prohibiting homosexuality and latterly the marriage laws. We no longer regard mental illness as moral weakness nor sexual apatite, especially in women, as a mental defect. We no longer regard physical handicap as a punishment for past sins, possibly by forebears and 'illegitimacy' is no longer an irredeemable stigma for either mother or child. And we no longer regard it as the right of a husband to beat his wife or be entitled to sex on demand.

None of that was a heritage we can be proud of. To be proud of our Christian heritage is to be proud of the persecution, repression and demonising of minorities, slavery, imperialism, the English class system, misogyny, genocide and systematic child abuse. It's to be proud of the psychological damage done to those brought up to believe they are unworthy sinners in need of redemption and salvation and to be ashamed for the 'sin' of being human with normal human emotions and sexual desires.

This is not something of which any humanitarian can be proud.

People who are not Christian or who do not want to have religious views forced upon them in the workplace, should be free from this harassment. There should be no entitlement of a privileged few to disregard the rights of others to live and work free from harassment. There should be no specially protected right to preach in the workplace, particularly from those quick to take offence at disagreement and who demand the right to have their own beliefs specially protected and immune from questioning.

It is bad enough that these zealots feel entitled to be paid by tax-payers for the opportunity to proselytise and that they exploit the access to vulnerable people that their employment provides them with, but their claim to special over-riding privileges on the grounds of 'faith' is sheer, breathtaking arrogance.

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