Olive Jones and the Christian Legal Centre

By Jonathan Bartley
December 22, 2009

Another case of the Christian Legal Centre making things worse it seems, with the misleading claim in a press release that a Christian teacher has been sacked for offering to pray for a sick girl.

A number of bloggers have been taken in by the story about Olive Jones. They include Iain Dale and Cranmer.

Tom Harris MP however has been big enough to admit his mistake. As he points out, the teacher in question has not in fact been sacked, but the complaint against her is being investigated. This is standard procedure when a complaint is made.

The family of the girl with leukaemia explain why they made the complaint here in their local press. In the article, the council also state that they "are keenly aware of the importance of an individual's spiritual belief, and we recognise Olive felt she was acting in the best interests of her students." The Telegraph also carries an explanation from the family.

Such complaints are going to continue to happen, as they did in the case of the nurse Caroline Petrie who incidently knows and prays with Olive Jones (interesting coincidence isn't it?). They are a feature of post-Christendom, and I set out the reasons in my 2005 book Faith and Politics After Christendom. The crucial question is how the churches and Christians react. There is a tendency to be fearful, get angry, manipulate the facts, and fall into a victim mentality. The alternative is to react with love, patience and truth-telling, and pursue a course of mediation and conciliation. The latter might be considered the more Christian approach.

However, the Christian Legal Centre stepping in and raising the stakes (with misleading information) is again only making matters worse. This is similar to the Duke Amachree case, where the housing officer was not initially sacked, but investigated. However, the Christian Legal Centre stepped in, issued a press release, and a story appeared in the Daily Mail. It was only subsequently that Amachree was sacked, with the council citing the fact that confidential information had been given to a national newspaper.

Let's hope that this latest case doesn't go the same way.

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