Blears ‘glad’ prayer nurse back at work

Reinstating Caroline Petrie, a Christian nurse who was suspended after offering to pray for a patient, was “common sense” says Communities Secretary Hazel Blears.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today Programme this morning Miss Blears said she wants to see an end to “political correctness gone mad”.

Also appearing on GMTV, she said: “If you look at the issue with the nurse, I am delighted that common sense prevailed, she is back at work.

“She wasn’t going to impose prayer on people, she just said ‘would you like me to’ and common sense has prevailed in that case.”

Miss Blears was being interviewed ahead of a speech to be given tonight at the London School of Economics in which she is expected to call for an end to political correctness and a more frank discussion about violent extremism.

Practices like forced marriages and female genital mutilation are also failing to be addressed because of over-sensitivity, she said.

Earlier this week the shadow secretary for community cohesion, Baroness Warsi, warned that policy-makers are failing to address the problem of polygamy because of “cultural senstivities”.

Speaking on Today, Miss Blears called for clearer dividing lines between “groups we want to engage with” and “groups that we want to challenge” whose “values are fundamentally opposed to the shared British values that are so important to this country”.

Those values, she said, “are about respect for people, equality before the law, not discriminating against people and fair play”.

The Government should only engage with those groups who were not opposed to such shared values, she said.

Last month Miss Blears invited criticism when she said Christian groups should only have access to public funding for service in the community if they promised not to evangelise.

Speaking at an Evangelical Alliance (EA) conference on Christian debt-counselling services Miss Blears spoke of a new charter for faith groups involved in social work.

Under the charter, developed with the help of the Faithworks group, religious organisations will be offered public funding for projects serving the community.

But this money will, Miss Blears said, only be available to groups “promising not to use public money to proselytise”.

During a Commons debate on the charter last year Miss Blears said “many people are motivated by faith of all kinds to do great acts of social good”.

“However,” she continued, “I am concerned to ensure that if faith groups become involved, they do so on a proper footing – not by evangelising or proselytising, but by providing services in a non-discriminatory way to the whole community”.

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