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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Difference Between a Christian and an Unexploded Bomb in the UK

Well, it’s another day in the UK, which presents another opportunity for a secular organisation to dismiss a Christian worker for their genuinely held and Biblically founded beliefs. Although, the latest judgement from a London Tribunal in the case of Sarah Mbuyi, a Christian Nursery Worker sacked for expressing her views on homosexuality, in response to questions asked by a “gay” colleague, should make senior figures think twice before taking similar action. The judgement in favour of Mbuyi’s religious discrimination case will probably have many breathing a sigh of relief that at last common sense has prevailed…..for now.

However, the precedent that this case sets will not be sufficient to change mind set’s and stereotypes about Christian’s and what they do and don’t believe, which sadly are becoming entrenched. As a supposedly democratic society, we are not only being forced to behaviourally adhere to a specific set of politically correct beliefs and values, we are now being told what to say, how to say it, when to speak and when not to speak. If this continues, there will come a time when every person will be forced to think appropriate thoughts in an appropriate manner about appropriate things, and no doubt these thoughts will be pre-determined by a state sanctioned body set up to police them. Nigel Farage, although not speaking from a religious perspective, summed the situation up nicely when he was asked how people would respond to his view on a certain issue by stating that it didn’t really matter because “everyone wants to be bland, wishy-washy and like each other.” But is that really what we want and the direction we want to take? To live in a country where no one has opinions and instead subscribes to the only “correct viewpoint.” Do we want to become like lemmings or zombies with nothing in our minds?

The reaction to the Mbuyi case will be interesting, as watching Mbuyi being interviewed, it is already clear that some think that the judgement is wrong and might be overturned on appeal. But where would that leave us? Should a Christian who finds themselves in the position of being asked a question about their beliefs on homosexuality be forced to lie or change the subject or leave the room or simply state that they are not allowed to express their view. The question should really be asked why the other party in this case pursued this line of questioning in the first place as it seems that she was likely aware of the beliefs of Mbuyi but wanted them verbalised. The action taken by the Nursery in sacking Mbuyi just two days after the conversation demonstrates a total lack of consideration for her as an employee and as a Christian. There was no time for any discussion or clarification of the facts. The message; your Christian views are not acceptable to us, you’re fired!

There is a very real climate of fear (especially in the workplace) surrounding having and expressing Christian views on a whole range of subjects including but not limited to; homosexuality and gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia, family life and state interference. I find myself wondering, in many of these cases that have reached the stage of Tribunals and Courts, why the parties involved didn’t just sit down and have a conversation about what had happened. Surely if both parties listened to each other’s viewpoints they could understand each other’s views, where they came from and in most cases agree to disagree.

In my own case, whilst employed as a police officer but off duty and in my free time, I attended a peaceful protest at a Gay Pride parade near my home town. During the disciplinary aftermath, it was evident that this culture of fear permeated every level. Colleagues were afraid to talk to me in case they somehow were tarred with the same brush. Senior manager’s rushed around consulting every rulebook and numerous other agencies for “advice” on how to deal with the situation. They held meetings where I was treated like a bomb about to explode; in one such meeting, after I had prepared myself to explain my Christian viewpoint, the senior manager walked in, sat down, read two pages of advice, got up and left the room before I even had the chance to open my mouth. I was left with a feeling of rejection, hurt and ultimately as if I was a “bad person” for holding my Christian view. This after many years of faithful service.

My attempts for a follow up meeting were met with stony walls of silence and when I persisted I received a formal letter advising that the matter was considered “finalised” and that there would be no more discussion about it and that we should all "return to policing as usual." Eventually I was able to meet with an even more Senior figure who advised me that some people would consider my views “abhorrent” but that I had the right to hold them. This person sensibly commented that every person likely held certain views that in some respect would be incompatible with the values of the police service but it was how they behaved towards others that was important. He conceded that I couldn’t be held to account for the “potential to discriminate” because of what I believed. I pointed out that my views were clearly written in the Bible, the very same book that most police officer’s still use when giving the oath before they give evidence in court…

My point is that Christian’s (and indeed all people) should be able to freely express their views on any subject during any conversation especially when asked for their opinion. They shouldn’t have to be worrying about how to respond or hiding what they truly believe. We should be mature enough to agree to disagree on certain issues, not respond by taking each other to court. What does a court case really achieve anyway, it doesn’t force a person to change their view or prove that a certain view is the correct one.

As a Christian I should make the point that God’s view found in His Word, the Bible, is always the correct one. I hope I can say this without the fear of alienation, widespread condemnation or of prosecution. This verse for Christian’s facing these issues at work and in other places;

“In God I trust and I am not afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56 vs 11

If you want to know more detail about the incident at Gay Pride, my police biography will be published before the end of the year. Keep reading this blog for updates. You can read about the missionary work I am involved in now in my first book "They're Rugby Boys, Don't You Know?"