State employees shouldn’t preach of religion or politics

Two cases in England have starkly revealed the sort of pressure ordinary Christian believers now find themselves under in their daily lives. One involves a district nurse who asked a patient if she wanted her to pray for her. The nurse was suspended for not showing sufficient respect for the modern religion of ‘equality and diversity’. She was reinstated only after a mighty row broke out. 

The second case involves a part-time receptionist at a primary school. The receptionist’s five year old daughter was ticked off by a teacher for telling a class-mate about Jesus and heaven and hell. The mother sent around an email asking friends to pray for her. The school got a hold of the email and the headmaster didn’t like the tone of it and how it presented the school. She was threatened with the sack. 

We now learn that teachers and nurses in the UK are being hit with guidelines telling them not to ‘preach’ about their faith to anyone they come in contact with in the course of their employment. 

Actually, I have a certain amount of sympathy with this policy. I wouldn’t want to be preached at by a nurse, nor would I want a teacher preaching to my children unless, that it, it was in a religious school. However, the policy has to be applied across the board. Nurses and teachers shouldn’t be allowed to preach any views to their charges, whether those views be religious or political. 

The fact is that teachers are frequently guilty of preaching politics to their pupils and that is as wrong as preaching religion to them without the consent of the pupils’ parents. 

The two cases mentioned at the top do not fall within the category of preaching by State employees. The five year old obviously isn’t an employee of the State. If she was frightening her class-mate with visions of hell then the teacher was right to intervene. The threat against her mother looks, on the surface, to be altogether more sinister. 

Nor was the district nurse preaching. She made an offer to pray for her patient, that’s all. The patient was evidently a crank if she thought this was a matter of complaint. 

In both these cases, the message being sent out is that Christians are not allowed to discuss their religion even on a one to one basis. This is a step towards soft totalitarianism.