Let’s just have society

I am not a fan of Christian Concern as an organization (turns out they’re not a fan of me either as they’ve banned me from their Facebook page). Usually their articles are filled with hyperbole and scare-mongering headlines, deliberately twisted to paint the Christian as the victim in everything. This is not a unique practice to them, any company wanting to push an agenda is not shy in employing these tactics (a point I will come back to) Christian Concern have been involved in a case of a GP who was being investigated by the General Medical Council (GMC) for malpractice after the GP reportedly offered Jesus as a possible cure for their problems. He has subsequently been found guilty and Christian Concern have not been slow to give their view on it [1]  But as always there seems to be more going on with this case than a simple “this is another example of Christians being persecuted”

The article puts a point of highlighting that the person who made the complaint did not wish to pursue it. This is a very flawed argument to me. It’s apparent that the patient was not the only one he had offered this “advice” to as demonstrated by several interviews he gave. Even if the patient that brought the GP to GMC’s attention didn’t pursue it, if there was further evidence that the GP breached the GMC code of conduct then surely they would ethically and legally bound to investigate. It is a major point in the context of their evidence being used in the trial. It seems there was no cross examination so it essentially was their word against the GP’s. The GP claims the patient consented, the patient says no medical advice was given. The GMC took the patient’s word however, as demonstrated above, it wasn’t the only evidence they took into account.

Whilst there are questions over the approach used in this case, it doesn’t answer the question of whether the GP should have even discussed his faith whilst he was treating a patient. Looking at it from a personal perspective, if a Islamic doctor talked about his faith in regards to my treatment, I certainly wouldn’t be happy. I go to the doctors for medical advice not to discuss the merits of religious belief. You cannot separate the belief from the person though, the GP could offer a prayer for his patients in his private time or pray that he can help them to the best of his ability. I have to agree with the GMC’s decision to warn the GP. He would be treating patients from different backgrounds and religions and the GMC must cater for all of them (which makes the Bethesda Medical practice interesting but more on that in a moment) A doctor cannot bring his religious beliefs into a consultation. There are other ways of expressing your faith.

But what has interested me in all this has been the involvement of the National Secular Society (N.S.S) I’ve had my doubts over what this organization’s aims so I decided to take a look at their website [2] It appears they are no different to Christian Concern but opposite with them describing the GP as “zealous” They claim that all they want is to keep religion and politics separate so why have they waded into this matter with the GP and GMC? Their report on this case includes their displeasure that the Bestheda Medical practice as “expressly Christian”. The N.S.S say this concerns them and they will be taking it up with the local authority. A quick look at the practices website shows they are not shy or ashamed of their Christian heritage [3] (which certainly explains the doctors willingness to talk about his faith) The fact the N.S.S is trying to completely remove religion is not surprising; secularism has no room for religion. It’s this sheer fact that undermines their insistence they are interested in equality. They aren’t just trying to separate religion and state, they’re trying to separate religion and society. They won’t tolerate any display of religion anywhere.

The N.S.S make a rallying call on their site for people to “add your voice to the call for a secular society” I have a rallying call of my own. Add your voice to the call for equality. People have their beliefs and they should have the right to express them but also need to make an effort to understand and respect the opposing view. Why does there have to be a secular society, a Christian society or any kind of society, why can’t we just have society?

References

[1] http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/religious-freedom/christian-gp-found-guilty-of-%E2%80%98malpractice%E2%80%99-for-sharing-his-faith

[2] http://www.secularism.org.uk

[3] http://www.bethesdamc.co.uk/index.html

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