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Persecution: UK – NHS in religion row

May 2017

Christians are being pushed out of public life by growing ‘religious illiteracy’, Andrea Williams has claimed.

The chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre said, ‘Religious illiteracy is pushing Christians out of public life and robbing society of the service of many good people’. She made the comments in response to an employment tribunal, in which NHS Christian nurse Sarah Kuteh was forced to defend herself against a ‘gross misconduct’ charge.

Last year, Ms Kuteh was dismissed from the Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust after she spoke to patients about her faith and occasionally offered prayer. Her job involved asking patients about their faith as part of a pre-op assessment questionnaire. From time to time, this led to a conversation about faith with the patient.

During the hearing, employment tribunal judge Martin Kurrein stated, ‘People should not express anything about their own beliefs without it first being raised as a question by someone else’. He also commented, ‘Everyone has their Article 9 rights and they can believe what they wish. But in the workplace they are circumscribed. Many people are not religious and there are many people that object.

‘It is a subject fraught with difficulty and as a consequence people should not express anything about their own beliefs without it first being raised as a question by anyone else’.

Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights says that all people have freedom of religion and freedom to manifest religion.

However, Ms Williams said, ‘Judge Kurrein demonstrated a profound lack of understanding about the Christian faith and what it means to be a Christian. To say that someone must be asked before they express anything about their own beliefs is deeply illiberal and wholly unworkable’.

A decision is expected in May.

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