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London Borough Council Employee Told Not to Talk About God or He’ll be Fired

By Michael Ireland
03/29/09 WANDSWORTH, LONDON, ENGLAND (ANS) — An employee of a London, England, borough council has been suspended from work for nearly two months for encouraging a homeless woman with an incurable medical condition to look to God for help, after doctors told her they’d given up hope.

According to the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), Duke Amachree, (53) a Homelessness Prevention officer with Wandsworth Council, who has worked for the local authority for almost 18 years, was suspended on January 28 for discussing his faith with a client. He was told in an investigatory interview on March 17 that he should not raise the issue of religion at work.

The CLC said not only was Mr Amachree told it was inappropriate to ‘ever talk about God,’ he was also told that he may not even say ‘God bless.’

Mr Amachree, a member of the UK World Evangelism Church in London, was summoned to an interview as a result of a complaint made against him by a member of the public.

Mr Michael Phillips, a solicitor working with the Christian Legal Centre, which was consulted by the worker, said: “On January 26, Mr Amachree met a client who was due to be moved out of her home because her landlord wished to sell the property. Doctors had told the client that she had an incurable illness and, as such, could only work part time.

“In general conversation, Mr Amachree asked the lady why she believed her condition was incurable, and in encouragement, commented that sometimes doctors do not have all the answers. So concerned was he that the lady was in despair and without hope, he suggested she put her trust in God. The lady, however, explained that she had tried religion and because she did not have any faith she was satisfied with what the doctors had told her and was able to move on. She smiled, thanked Mr Amachree and left.”

CLC says that two days later Mr Amachree was handed a letter informing him that a service user (the lady) had made serious allegations against him and he was therefore suspended.

Mr Phillips, who was present at the meeting, added: “On March 17, Mr Amachree’s employers told him that ‘God had to be kept out of the workplace.’ He was accused of crossing boundaries.”

The issue of religion, according to the interviewer, should not be raised in a housing issue. Mr Phillips, on behalf of Mr Amachree, queried this statement by asking if ‘God bless’ would be an appropriate comment. He was told that it would not be appropriate and that any complaint would again lead to an investigation.

Mr Amachree is taking legal action against the Council. His claim is that their decision effectively ‘privatizes’ Christian faith and is against his human rights. His case comes after a number of public sector workers have seen their employers forcing secularist views on them.

The Christian Legal Centre, and its legal team has supported Caroline Petrie, the nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient; a Christian magistrate forced to resign over his reluctance to place children into the care of homosexual couples; a Police Officer sacked for using the internal email system to respond to blatant pro-gay advertising in his force; and a myriad of cases where Christian foster parents have been refused the opportunity to care for children on the grounds of their faith and practice.

CLC has instructed leading Human Rights barrister, Paul Diamond, to take up the case.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the CLC said: “We are supporting Mr Amachree in this case because it is absurd to think that any public body could be in a position to enforce a policy which means that you can’t even say ‘God Bless.’ This would effectively mean that faith would become entirely privatised. A Christian cannot leave faith out of any aspect of his or her life including work.”

Mr Amachree’s legal team is waiting to hear the outcome of the internal inquiry.