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Source: (consider it) Thread: Nurse disciplined for praying with patients
Penny S
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Report on tribunal after sacking

This story has two different versions, that of the patients who complained, and that of the nurse who does not feel she did anything wrong, even after not following instructions to desist.

What the article does not say is that the spokesperson for the Christian Legal Centre told the TV that it was an issue about freedom, the freedom of the nurse to be the person she was and express her faith as she felt fit. (Paraphrase.)

My feeling was that the CLC seemed to miss the issue of the freedom of the patients not to be proselytised while awaiting surgery.

I don't think these cases do the faith much good.

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Garden Hermit
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Is it Racist to say that Black Christians are much more vocal about their Faith than anyone else ? I have met several and I am bowled over by their enthusiasm. Is this more a Cultural thing than Religious ?
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Boogie

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No.

A patient is vulnerable and this vulnerability should never be used by nurses or anyone else whose job it is to care for them.

They are 'using' the patient to satisfy their religious feelings/urges and or their need to evangelise - probably many other reasons too, but it's wrong imo

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Ethne Alba
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Read on from the headlines!

A closer look at the issue shows that the nurse in question did not Only offer to pray with patients in her care. Sadly it is reported that this nurse also apparently told at least one that they would be more likely to get better if they prayed.

To have two or three complaints against a nurse is unusual. But to have EIGHT?

It's sad.
Sad that the trust felt that she could not continue working with advice and guidance. But obviously they felt that a line had been crossed.
.
.

[ 30. March 2017, 18:25: Message edited by: Ethne Alba ]

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Garden Hermit:
Is it Racist to say that Black Christians are much more vocal about their Faith than anyone else ? I have met several and I am bowled over by their enthusiasm. Is this more a Cultural thing than Religious ?

If you think it is because of their colour, then yes. I've met exceedingly pale, excessively vocal Christians. And I've met very repressed Christians who are black.
And, BTW, there is no black culture in any monolithic sense.

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If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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It is unfortunate that she did not respond properly to progressive discipline. Is she doing the martyr and "I've been oppressed" schtick? Many religious people, Christian and other, don't impose and quietly set a Christian example by their lives. She is completely out of line.
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Enoch
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I venture to disagree. I find it both suspicious and disturbing that the people mangers seem to pick on in these sort of cases always seem to be ethnic, female, or in this case, both. Odd, or one could say, fishy.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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I would say the sample size is too small to demonstrate the ethnicity or gender is significant.

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Might as well ask the bloody cat.

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Nicolemr
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Sounds like she was over the line. If I were a patient in the hospital awaiting surgery, I'd feel very uncomfortable if my nurse asked me to pray with her.

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Martin60
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It wasn't in her job description.

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Love wins

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Adeodatus
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Even after you follow the link to the previous story, there are bits missing from the newspaper articles. Here's an attempt to fill in some gaps, and to sketch how the story might go.

The NHS has a central guideline document called Religion or Belief, which addresses all kinds of issues around faith in healthcare. It's readily available online as a pdf file. It came out in 2009, so no NHS institution has any excuse for not having built it into its own policies around recruitment, working practice, patient care and so on. Furthermore, every NHS Trust should have access to chaplains who can advise on these issues before anything silly happens.

Now, if a patient asks a nurse to pray with them, there's rarely a problem about that. But in almost all circumstances, a nurse may not proactively offer to pray with a patient. It is not part of the nursing role, and could be interpreted as emotional or psychological abuse. I said "almost all circumstances" - there are a few nurses who are also chaplains, but there should always be clarity about roles, boundaries, and suchlike. What is absolutely out of order in all circumstances is to claim any curative properties for the prayer. I would expect such a claim to immediately become a disciplinary matter.

If a case like this had come up at a hospital where I worked, it would have been expected that I, as a chaplain, would be involved in the nurse's supervision and education after the first instance. My role would have been to help her understand patients' vulnerabilities, and the nature and extent of professional boundaries. I would also have had a conversation with her about possible appropriate outlets for her expressions of faith in the workplace.

Even if all of the foregoing goes well, there's always a chance of further complaints. And here comes the point, I'm afraid, where patients have to be protected from such intrusion even at the expense of a talented nurse's job.

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mr cheesy
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Out of interest, what happens if the chaplain and the patient share a particular belief that certain religious actions are curative*?

Is it just that such a person would not be employed by the NHS as a chaplain? What if they were a volunteer - does that make any difference?

*maybe the use of some kind of religious oil..?

[ 30. March 2017, 19:25: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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Adeodatus
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Out of interest, what happens if the chaplain and the patient share a particular belief that certain religious actions are curative*?

Is it just that such a person would not be employed by the NHS as a chaplain? What if they were a volunteer - does that make any difference?

*maybe the use of some kind of religious oil..?

If it ain't approved by NICE (National Institute for Health & Care Excellence), you can't claim it's a cure! You can claim that spiritual "techniques" - including Christian sacraments - can help, but you can't claim they'll cure.

I don't think I've ever come across a chaplain who would claim a curative effect for what they do. Ministers visiting from outside, however, can sometimes be a right pain in the gluteus maximus.

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"What is broken, repair with gold."

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Bishops Finger
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A local fundamentalist group fell foul of the law by distributing information leaflets about their activities. They claimed to be able to 'cure' autism... [Eek!]

As a vulnerable patient, last year, awaiting brain surgery, I'm not sure how I would have felt if one of the nursing staff offered to pray with or for me. Possibly, I would have welcomed it, but to be told, in effect, that prayer would ensure my survival and recovery more likely would have spooked me.

Thanks are due to Adeodatus for sharing with us the NHS' sensible approach to this sort of thing. Sadly, the nurse in this case - and doubtless she is entirely sincere in her faith and beliefs - did not take the sensible approach.

IJ

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Martin60
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Thanks Adeodatus, how does that work? A nurse being asked to pray by a patient? What about a consultant? Either way?

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Love wins

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Adeodatus
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Thanks Adeodatus, how does that work? A nurse being asked to pray by a patient? What about a consultant? Either way?

It's not all that common, and rarer with doctors than with nurses. The nurse-patient relationship is an extraordinarily intimate one on all sorts of levels (and that's precisely why it has to be so carefully conducted). It's the nurse who's most likely to be there when the patient talks about their anxiety at 3am, and the nurse who may well be trusted with the simple request "Will you say a prayer with me?" It's a mark of great trust on the part of the patient.

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"What is broken, repair with gold."

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Ricardus
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Has the Christian Legal Centre ever won a case?

Call me Mr Cynical, but ISTM they deliberately pick indefensible cases so that when they inevitably lose, they can cite their loss as further evidence that Christians are a persecuted minority.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Thanks Adeodatus, how does that work? A nurse being asked to pray by a patient? What about a consultant? Either way?

It's not all that common, and rarer with doctors than with nurses. The nurse-patient relationship is an extraordinarily intimate one on all sorts of levels (and that's precisely why it has to be so carefully conducted). It's the nurse who's most likely to be there when the patient talks about their anxiety at 3am, and the nurse who may well be trusted with the simple request "Will you say a prayer with me?" It's a mark of great trust on the part of the patient.
I'm impressed at the wisdom of that. By the state. I hope strident secularists leave it alone. I imagine it happens between Muslim and Hindu nurses and patients too.

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Love wins

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Anglican_Brat
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I imagine that a nurse or a doctor who prayed privately in his or her home for their patients would be ok.

I remember when there was a similar kerfluffle about teachers praying in public schools. I read an article from a Christian teacher who stated that she did indeed pray for her students in private and at home . But on the job, she knew that her duty was to be professional and respect the secular nature of the public school system and not impose her religious beliefs on anyone.

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cliffdweller
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My late father's cardiac surgeon went to mass on his way to the hospital every morning to pray for his patients. Then he went to the hospital and went to work.

I don't work in a secular university, so I'm able to pray any time I want. But I often don't think it's appropriate or want to pray in a specific way for a specific student about matters that can't be disclosed. I don't find it hard to "pray on the go"-- silently praying on the train to work or even as I'm setting up the classroom & loading my ppt.

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Gramps49
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In December I had my knee replaced. I have known the Orthopedic Surgeon for years. I knew he was a man of faith. So it did not surprise me, during pre-op, when he came in to see if I was prepared and he asked if I would appreciate a prayer. I agreed. Can't remember the prayer, but I do remember it helped to settle some of the nervousness I was feeling.

As I recall, though, he did not imply my recovery would be better with a prayer than if I had refused the prayer. This appears to be the downfall of the nurse. She was implying the patients would have a better chance of survival if they allowed her to pray with them.

Someone above said prayers or sacraments do not cure. I would rather keep an open mind about that.

As a seminary student, I did a clinical pastoral education quarter at a hospital. One evening I was called to the prenatal ward. When I arrivedI was ushered into a room in which several medical personnel were trying to work with a woman who was six months pregnant and had a urinary track infection. The infection was causing her to have a high temperature and she was hallucinating.

She claimed she was seeing Jesus in the room. She knew Jesus was coming to take her home (heaven). She wanted to be baptized.

My goal was to try to help the medical staff get her to calm down, but she was panicking even hyperventilating. Finally, I said I would baptize her. Immediately after the baptism, her fever broke and she calmed down. I stayed with her and her family for about a half hour, leaving when she was finally asleep.

Did the baptism cure? I can't say it didn't. It certainly helped reduce her anxiety and it allowed the medical interventions to work.

Of course, since this was a city hospital, she was discharged the very next day and I never saw her again.

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Adeodatus
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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:
I imagine that a nurse or a doctor who prayed privately in his or her home for their patients would be ok.

No problem at all. Your home, your time, your rules. But if there are other people present, patient confidentiality must be respected. It's nobody else's business that you're in hospital.

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mr cheesy
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To me, there are few things more annoying that someone asking if they can mumble religious invectives over me. I wouldn't expect an accountant or a decorator to ask that, why would I want a nurse or doctor to do it in a circumstance where I didn't have the strength to say no?

Can I give you some unwanted, unasked for, words I think are divine? No, piss off. If you really have to mumble that nonsense, do it in the privacy of your own head, not invading mine.

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Adeodatus
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
To me, there are few things more annoying that someone asking if they can mumble religious invectives over me. I wouldn't expect an accountant or a decorator to ask that, why would I want a nurse or doctor to do it in a circumstance where I didn't have the strength to say no?

Can I give you some unwanted, unasked for, words I think are divine? No, piss off. If you really have to mumble that nonsense, do it in the privacy of your own head, not invading mine.

My former chaplaincy colleagues know that if I ever end up in their hospital as a patient, they're among the ever-reducing small number of clergy I'd trust to know the difference between their arse and their elbow, let alone pray for me.

[ 31. March 2017, 09:09: Message edited by: Adeodatus ]

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Callan
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Out of interest, what happens if the chaplain and the patient share a particular belief that certain religious actions are curative*?

Is it just that such a person would not be employed by the NHS as a chaplain? What if they were a volunteer - does that make any difference?

*maybe the use of some kind of religious oil..?

I remember being told by a former nurse, who was looking after a young mother on her ward that she was so upset by her plight - she looked to be dying - that when she was on the night shift she took the opportunity afforded by solitude in the midst of sleep to anoint the woman with the oil consecrated for the purpose. The young woman subsequently recovered - make of that what you will.

But she was quite aware that her actions were entirely inappropriate on a professional level - her emotions and her faith had got the better of her judgement. It's not fair to impose your views on someone who can't object or who could object but is in a position of vulnerability.

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Mark Wuntoo
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I have had a number of conversations with my GP about faith. He knows that I have given up my belief. We have sometimes pulled each other's leg. He is a pentecostalist. On my last visit he told me that he was praying for me. I gave a suitable (for me) response. I did not tell him that he was wasting his time but I did not thank him. I was a bit surprised but not offended. I sort of respect him for it as I know he is being kind. But if he asked me if he could pray with me I'd probably change my GP - I know he won't do that. As has been stated, praying on one's own for someone is very different to praying with that person. And I wouldn't be surprised if my GP reads this post. [Eek!]

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
My former chaplaincy colleagues know that if I ever end up in their hospital as a patient, they're among the ever-reducing small number of clergy I'd trust to know the difference between their arse and their elbow, let alone pray for me.

Chaplains are a bit different. I can imagine chatting to a chaplain about various things that I wouldn't want to talk to a nurse about - but even there I'd be uncomfortable about having them "pray over me".

I realise I have a bit of a phobia about this kind of prayer altogether.

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Callan:
I remember being told by a former nurse, who was looking after a young mother on her ward that she was so upset by her plight - she looked to be dying - that when she was on the night shift she took the opportunity afforded by solitude in the midst of sleep to anoint the woman with the oil consecrated for the purpose. The young woman subsequently recovered - make of that what you will.

But she was quite aware that her actions were entirely inappropriate on a professional level - her emotions and her faith had got the better of her judgement. It's not fair to impose your views on someone who can't object or who could object but is in a position of vulnerability.

This is why my faith is in tatters. I'd be lovely if oil anointing had some verifiable medical properties. It'd be lovely if it was really true that Christians had some kind of unquestionable power of healing - like some kind of superheroes striding through the land.

I'm afraid I don't believe it. Christians have no intrinsic power to heal.

So at best anointing with oil is a psychological comfort to the person who is sick (providing that this is part of their religious tradition and it is meaningful for them).

Most of the time, such as in the situation you mention above, it is just abusive.

Fortunately, I suppose, in this situation there is no real harm done.

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Martin60
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@mr cheesy. Bliss. I never respond to offers of magic incantations in group. I make orthogonal offerings. An ever more loved charevo asst. vicar wants to be kept informed of my condition 'to know what to pray for'. I'll tolerate that for now.


@Gramps49. My mind is completely closed therefore. To random magic. I have great faith in placebo. I do seek courage and wisdom and acceptance and faith and strength and compassion ... nearly as hopelessly! But it does create space.

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Love wins

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Adeodatus
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The very simple thing to bear in mind is, if you're having a conversation with a patient who's lying in a hospital bed, they can't walk out.

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"What is broken, repair with gold."

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Garden Hermit
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It today's PC World in which you can't say anything out Loud without offending someone else, you she have known better. She should have stuck to the Internet where you can say anything however nasty and untrue and hurtful about anyone you fancy.
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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Wuntoo:
I have had a number of conversations with my GP about faith. He knows that I have given up my belief. We have sometimes pulled each other's leg. He is a pentecostalist. On my last visit he told me that he was praying for me. I gave a suitable (for me) response. I did not tell him that he was wasting his time but I did not thank him. I was a bit surprised but not offended. I sort of respect him for it as I know he is being kind. But if he asked me if he could pray with me I'd probably change my GP - I know he won't do that. As has been stated, praying on one's own for someone is very different to praying with that person. And I wouldn't be surprised if my GP reads this post. [Eek!]

I suppose if one doesn't believe that prayer has any effect, in and of itself, the believer might think that there isn't anything to be offended by it - the non-believer thinks it is just words, so what's the harm?

And I think one can on some level rationalise it. This person cares about me and is doing something which is meaningful to them. OK.

I suppose the problem is that this still feels like abuse to me. Too often it is being used as some kind of emotional blackmail, a form of spiritual-sounding gossip or one-up-manship.

If you're praying, pray. Don't tell me, I don't give a shit. Go to your little room, close the door, draw the curtains and pray - or do whatever other rituals you think are necessary. I don't know or care what they are.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Garden Hermit:
It today's PC World in which you can't say anything out Loud without offending someone else, you she have known better. She should have stuck to the Internet where you can say anything however nasty and untrue and hurtful about anyone you fancy.

I'd gently suggest you might want to stand for a few minutes at a bus-stop in my Welsh valley. I would be amazed if someone didn't come up to you and start talking about something entirely random and quite possibly offensive.

The idea that there is some kind of "PC World" where people can't say things in public is totally bogus.

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Mark Wuntoo
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Some people even pray for their pastor's wife to rise from the dead.

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Blessed are the cracked for they let in the light.

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Anglican_Brat
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# 12349

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I believe that praying for someone is a way, primarily of expressing love and concern for that person, and not necessarily about fixing or curing a person. In that sense, I don't see prayer as being futile.

A secular example that my nonreligious friends might say to me if I was in a hospital would be "good thoughts/positive feelings to you." I don't believe that good thoughts from another person magically cures my ailment, but I take them as expressions of care and love.

I know that an atheist critic of Christianity might view this approach as a copout, of sidestepping the question of whether or not God does actually answer prayer and directly intervene in medical situations.

To return to the OP, the nurse or doctor is expected to act in a professional manner and do his or her job. The nurse is free to express her religious convictions and spiritual practices on her own time, in her home and in her church. As a professional, however, she should be sensitive to the secular and pluralist nature of the workplace.

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It's Reformation Day! Do your part to promote Christian unity and brotherly love and hug a schismatic.

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Anglican_Brat
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# 12349

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quote:
Originally posted by Garden Hermit:
It today's PC World in which you can't say anything out Loud without offending someone else, you she have known better. She should have stuck to the Internet where you can say anything however nasty and untrue and hurtful about anyone you fancy.

Well, medical professionals are expected to watch what they say. I know from a friend who works in a downtown hospital, that the emergency ward on a Saturday night is full of people who have injured themselves or become sick due to drinking a bit too much. It would be highly unprofessional for the nurse to say "You drunken idiot, you should have known better", though of course, I imagine that that is what they have been thinking.

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It's Reformation Day! Do your part to promote Christian unity and brotherly love and hug a schismatic.

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Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
I venture to disagree. I find it both suspicious and disturbing that the people mangers seem to pick on in these sort of cases always seem to be ethnic, female, or in this case, both. Odd, or one could say, fishy.

Male nurses may be a minority (still) so it’s possible that will be reflected in the number of cases that go to tribunal.

When you read the small print in these kinds of cases, they’ve been lost because of the behaviour of the plaintiff. They’ve done something contrary to the rules, they’ve been called on it after complaints, been told to stop and they haven’t. You don’t get to play by different rules to everyone else “because you’re a Christian”. The CLC then squawks about persecution – which doesn’t help anyone.

Tubbs

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"It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it up and remove all doubt" - Dennis Thatcher. My blog. Decide for yourself which I am

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mr cheesy
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# 3330

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I was also contemplating whether there is some deliberate choice of cases that the CLC take on and which therefore get publicity.

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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Callan
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# 525

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Originally posted by Mr Cheesy:

quote:
This is why my faith is in tatters. I'd be lovely if oil anointing had some verifiable medical properties. It'd be lovely if it was really true that Christians had some kind of unquestionable power of healing - like some kind of superheroes striding through the land.

I don't believe that oil has verifiable medical properties, and neither did she, which was why she did it at 3am sub-rosa, and not in consultation with other medical professionals. As I said, it was a lapse of judgement, and as you said, no harm was done.

Personally, I'm grateful that Christians aren't superheroes - much as I have often wished for a magic wand to solve other peoples problems - based on my experience of church life we'd be less like the Golden Age Superman, who was always good noble and true, and more likely to end up drunk on power. If miracles do happen, they happen as a result of holiness, which is presumably why they are rare, and not because God is some kind of supernatural battery that you can plug yourself into by saying the sinners prayer.

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Adeodatus
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# 4992

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I was also contemplating whether there is some deliberate choice of cases that the CLC take on and which therefore get publicity.

I doubt they would say so. The rest of us may well suspect it.

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"What is broken, repair with gold."

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North East Quine

Curious beastie
# 13049

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Tangent //
My daughter was born with a "lucky caul." The midwife took the caul, split it in two and prepared it so that she and I could keep them as lucky charms. I was rather startled by this! In the event I neglected it, let it dry out and then binned it, but I assume she still has hers; she told me that it was her tenth charm.

I guess that there's a limited window of opportunity to make a charm, and she erred on the side of caution and just made it. I wish I'd paid a bit more attention now and looked after it, as my daughter would have liked it.

I wonder if anyone ever objects to having bits of tissue made into lucky charms?

// End tangent.

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North East Quine

Curious beastie
# 13049

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(I would have taken more care of it had I read David Copperfield and realised it had a literary curiosity value, or indeed, had I not been preoccupied with caring for a newborn.)
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Barnabas62
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Many thanks, Adeodatus, for your very helpful contribution to this thread.

My nonconformist instincts tell me that there is not much of an argument re individual conscience or religious freedom to justify the appeal. As Claire Short once put it, "Of course you are free to disobey as a matter of conscience, and of course you are free to accept the consequences. And you are also free to argue for changes to laws you regard as oppressive. But don't mix those things up in attempting to justify your actions."

Something to that effect anyway. You can't expect to keep your job by ignoring a formal warning. While you still have a job, you can challenge an HR ruling. But if you want to keep your job, you desist from the behaviour which got you into hot water while the appeal is ongoing. If you lose your appeal, you have two options. Put up with it, or resign.

The nurse wanted it both ways. Which shows a certain arrogance. 'The rules don't apply to me, I serve a higher power'. Who was noted for His encouragement of humility.

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

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Martin60
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# 368

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@mr cheesy. My favourite kind of faith. Like Old Glory shot to hell over Gettysburg.

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Love wins

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Sioni Sais
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# 5713

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I was also contemplating whether there is some deliberate choice of cases that the CLC take on and which therefore get publicity.

Are you suggesting that they are cases mainstream law firms and unions won't touch with a bargepole?

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"He isn't Doctor Who, he's The Doctor"

(Paul Sinha, BBC)

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mr cheesy
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I have no idea. But it is quite striking that so many of their cases look so similar.

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
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quote:
Originally posted by Sioni Sais:
quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I was also contemplating whether there is some deliberate choice of cases that the CLC take on and which therefore get publicity.

Are you suggesting that they are cases mainstream law firms and unions won't touch with a bargepole?
More that they take cases that can be used to support a particular line of argument. It's hard to know whether other firms or unions would take them. They might well - but not argue them in the same way in court.

Tubbs

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"It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it up and remove all doubt" - Dennis Thatcher. My blog. Decide for yourself which I am

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Callan
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# 525

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IANAL, but I wouldn't be surprised if your average solicitor, confronted by something like this, would go for some kind of deal on the QT involving a severance payment and a neutralish reference for the future whereas the CLC would go for a blaze of publicity and a "sorry, we did our best" when it all went TU.

Ironic really, the nurse was sacked for making "God will cure you" assertions that couldn't be backed up and the CLC offered "You will be vindicated in court" assertions that also couldn't be backed up. The perfect lawyer-client combination.

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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leo
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# 1458

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Good riddance to her for being so unprofessional.

As for the Christian Legal Centre, they're a bunch of fruitcakes defending fruitcakes.

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Garden Hermit
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I suppose praying for you is better than getting fired up and setting off to Syria to fight with ISIS.
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