Wandsworth Council have today sacked London Homelessness Prevention Officer after previously threatening "say 'God Bless' and we'll sack you".
A Homelessness Prevention officer with Wandsworth Council was today
dismissed from work 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. Even the woman had said that she did not want
him to lose his job.
Duke Amachree, aged 53 who has worked for the local authority for almost 18 years was suspended on 28 January 2009 for discussing his faith with a client, and was told in an investigatory interview on 17 March that he should not raise the issue of religion at work. 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 26 January, 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 might try putting 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."
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 today and on previous occasions, added: "On 17 March, 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. I, 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. Today they have reached their verdict and carried out their threat of dismissing him. This is a clear manifestation of secular intolerance."
Mr Amachree will take his employers to an Employment Tribunal. His claim is that their decision effectively 'privatises' 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 and unjust 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."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
In the past, Andrea worked as Public Policy Director for the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship, an organisation with a membership of over two thousand lawyers. She was called to the Bar in 1988. Initially she specialised in Criminal and Family Law.
Andrea is married with 4 children.
View all articles by Andrea Williams