Suspended council worker told: No talking about God

A Christian council worker has been suspended from his job for encouraging a terminally ill woman to turn to God.

Bosses told him that even saying “God bless” was unacceptable.

Duke Amachree, has worked for Wandsworth Council in south west London for 17 years.

The married father of two has been suspended since the incident occurred in January.

On 26 January a woman described as having an “incurable bowel condition” approached Mr Amachree for advice in his capacity as a homelessness prevention officer.

He says they spent 50 minutes discussing her concern that she might be made homeless.

Mr Amachree said: “She was in a state of absolute despair. It was out of compassion that I said to her: ‘Sometimes the doctors don’t have all of the answers’.

“I suggested she could put her faith in God. I said ‘Sometimes we read in newspapers, or see on television, instances where doctors have declared a patient’s condition incurable but they went on and recovered’.”

Mr Amachree insists the woman had not been concerned by his comments, although she did say that religion had not worked for her. He says she smiled and thanked him before leaving.

Two days later the council’s director of housing gave Mr Amachree a two-page letter informing him that he was being suspended.

“I was speechless,” said Mr Amachree. “It was a like a bad dream. I could not believe it.

“I was so stunned I could not even bring myself to tell my wife what had happened.”

Mr Amachree says he was told that he could not raise the issue of religion at work and that talking about God with a client was inappropriate.

Conservative-run Wandsworth Council confirmed that Mr Amachree is under disciplinary investigation and accused him of subjecting the woman to a “religious rant”.

A senior council source said: “This woman was subjected to a half-hour barrage and basically told it was her fault she was so ill because she had not prayed to God.

“Moreover the complainant says Mr Amachree told her not to trust what doctors say, which is very dangerous.”

The council also says that Mr Amachree has been warned in the past for raising matters of faith with members of the public.

Mr Amachree is now taking legal action against the council. He says their decision effectively “privatises” Christian faith and infringes his human rights.

His case has been taken up by the Christian Legal Centre, which has instructed religious rights barrister Paul Diamond to represent him.

Mr Amachree’s case is the latest example of a Christian being subjected to workplace discipline because of their faith.

North Somerset nurse Caroline Petrie gained widespread public sympathy when she was suspended by her local Primary Care Trust for offering to pray for a patient’s recovery.

The Trust said that Mrs Petrie’s prayer offer showed that she lacked a “personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity”, but later overturned the suspension.

And primary school receptionist Jennie Cain remains under disciplinary investigation after the headmaster got hold of a copy of her private prayer email to friends.

Mrs Cain had asked friends to pray about her five year old daughter Jasmine, who had been reprimanded by a teacher at the school for discussing her faith with another pupil.

The headmaster informed Mrs Cain that she was under investigation for professional misconduct and could be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

A highly experienced Christian foster carer has also been struck off by a council because she allowed a Muslim teenager in her care to convert to Christianity.

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