Secular madness?

Nurse suspension over prayer ‘could lead to thousands more’
On the face of it, a case of militant secularism as severe as Christian militancy or jihadism.

Petrie said the incident that led to her suspension occurred after she visited a woman in Winscombe in December. She said she asked the woman: “Would you like me to pray for you?” after putting dressings on her legs. The woman replied “No, thank you”, and Petrie insists she did not press the matter.

Different if Petrie was touting for business among the emotional vulnerable.

The PCT quotes as a reason for suspension:
“The Nursing and Midwifery Council Code of Conduct makes it clear that nurses ‘must not use their professional status to promote causes that are not related to health’.

The Daily Telegraph, picking up the story for national coverage seems to have prompted the hole-in-the wall publication of the ( I presume England-only) staff guidelines on religion, according to reporter Martin Beckford’s blog.

This document – which is pretty important when you consider the controversy surrounding faith in public life these days, and the fact that our health service is the world’s third-largest employer – was published for the first time onto a dark corner of the Department of Health’s website on a Friday afternoon without any public announcement or press release.

The guidebook specifically bans any proselytising, preaching or attempts to convert work colleagues or patients, and warns that non-believers may feel “harassed and intimidated” by someone who tries to enlighten them.

The whole aim of the guidelines seems to be to avoid the risk of an anti-discrimination suit. With the result in this case I hope, that they run slap-bang into one, through demented bureaucratic overzealousness. Diversity without expression is a denial of genuine diversity.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London