Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The perfect formula for a Daily Mail column...

Dear reader, our blog has moved to a new address.

Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly): rationalist.org.uk

Apologies for the lack of action yesterday - we were well and truly snowed off, unable to reach the Blasphemy Lab due to the complete collapse of London's infrastructure in the face of several inches of the dreaded white stuff.

With the news dominated by snow (Metro - "More snow news: pages 2-9"), I've been looking for anything else we might have missed. One story is that of a Somerset nurse who's been suspended without pay for offering to say a prayer for a patient during a home visit. It's always hard to get to the bottom of these stories – on the one hand it seems a bit harsh to suspend someone without pay, but then you find out that this wasn't the first time the nurse in question had been doing a spot of proselytising during her rounds, and you have to admit it's nice to see that the NHS does take a dim view of it's staff bringing their religion into their jobs, which tend to involve them dealing with the sick, elderly and vulnerable (classic targets for conversion, naturally).

Like I say, harsh to withdraw an income from the nurse, but you suspect this wasn't the first time she'd been told to leave Jesus at home while representing our public health service. Which in one respect leaves me almost in agreement with Daily Mail columnist and professional secularist-basher Melanie Phillips. Note, however, the emphasis I place on the word "almost" – Phillips thinks the punishment is a bit harsh too, but she also thinks it's a sign that our society is dying.

What follows could be the perfect Daily Mail column - take one story about a wronged Christian and another completely unrelated story about some rowdy Muslims who escaped arrest during the riotous Gaza protests, blend them together, and argue that they're signs of the death of Western civilisation.

It's that standard argument – Muslims can get away with anything, while Christians are persecuted by the secular authorities. By alluding to these unrelated incidents, Phillips makes the irresponsible implication that Islam as a whole is causing problems in British society, while good old benign Christianity is being forced into the margins. I know we're dealing with a Daily Mail column here, but what you wouldn't give for a spot of nuance. Yes, the Gaza protests did highlight worrying signs of extremism among sections of young Muslim protesters, but to present this as evidence that Muslims (with little distinction between the majority and a radical minority), by order of the government, can get away with anything in Britain is both dangerous and untrue (after all, I doubt terror detention laws have led to the wrongful imprisonment of many Christian nurses without charge). And perhaps the police backing away from the protesters in the video were too busy trying not to inflame an already charged situation to think about carrying out a perceived national policy of pandering to Islam.

But then again, what I'm saying is just political correctness gone mad, isn't it?

7 comments:

akhter said...

If one feels the need or has a wish to pray for some one , then you do that in your heart without letting them know,whether one is a true believer and the other is not is between you and your God, it is a fact that a Muslim would not request a Christian or visa Versa to prey for them,the christian believe Jesus to be the son of God , while the Muslim believe that to be blaspheming.So if i wanted to pray for some one ,i would do it in my heart and thoughts without letting them know.

sgl said...

According to the (on-line) report that I read, this is a "bank" nurse, not staff, so the hospital is not obliged to use her services and suspended without pay does not come into it

Anonymous said...

The hospital suspended her because the EU REGULATIONS created by IMMIGRANT HOMOSEXUAL ATHEIST TEENAGE MOTHERS need to PANDER TO THE MUSLIMS.


Also gypsies play into it somehow.

PersonalFailure said...

It's always the gypsies. And the gays, surely they had something to do with it.

I also love akhter's (unintentional?) bit of truth: to prey for them.

Really, go to the Rapture Ready message boards and check out the evangelism section: this type of thing is a recognized, and applauded, tactic among the fundies.

Kevin said...

I think you're showing too much Christian forgiveness, Paul.

Leaving aside the nature of the offense for a moment, this nurse violated her professional code of conduct, was warned about her behaviour, and then continued to violate her professional code of conduct. This is all by her own admission (if the Daily Mail quotes are accurate).

Apply this to another profession, journalism say. If you caught one of your writers violating the code of conduct, cautioned her, and then she carried on doing it anyway, would you say a suspension was "harsh"?

Paul Sims said...

Thanks for your comments Kevin. Agreed that she'd broken the rules and in the post I did say "on the one hand it seems a bit harsh to suspend someone without pay, but then you find out that this wasn't the first time the nurse in question had been doing a spot of proselytising during her rounds, and you have to admit it's nice to see that the NHS does take a dim view of it's staff bringing their religion into their jobs, which tend to involve them dealing with the sick, elderly and vulnerable."

So I wasn't exactly saying that she shouldn't have been suspended, but I did want to approach the matter without resorting to a zero-tolerance "how dare she bring Christianity into her work" line. It's not like what she was doing was that harmful, not that I'm in favour of NHS nurses offering to pray for people. Secularists screaming for the heads of people like that doesn't seem that far removed from Melanie Phillips letting out cries of "the government panders to Muslims".

And after all, we are talking about someone's livelihood.

Kevin said...

Fair enough.