Christian midwife sues hospital, says trousers against her religion


2:36 pm - August 2nd 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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A devout Christian woman who works as a midwife is suing a hospital because she says they forced her to wear trousers against her beliefs.

During the tribunal, Hannah Adewole cited a command in the Bible that women should not wear men’s clothing.

Oh and this being the Daily Mail, there is obviously a Muslim angle.

She pointed out that Muslim midwives are allowed to vary official uniform with their own hijabs and tops.

As a midwife at City University London, Mrs Adewole was ordered to wear scrub trousers to prevent infection.

When she refused, she was moved from the labour ward to post-natal care until the end of her course.

She said: ‘I know that in many hospitals skirts and dresses are worn and this would not be so if there was any real risk of infection.

‘They would not listen and seemed angry at me. I was traumatised by the intolerance towards by religious needs.’

You can read the full story here (via @riazat_butt).

I have a strong feeling the case is being funded by the Christian Legal Centre – an offshoot of the hardline group Christian Concern for our Nation.

They’ve funded several legal cases such as this in the past.

Earlier this year the Observer reported on this outfit:

Questions have been asked about from where the centre – and its sister organisation, Christian Concern For Our Nation – obtain funding. Accounts show both organisations have little in the way of income.

Williams said all of the centre’s work was done on a pro bono basis by committed Christian lawyers and that what money it had came in small donations from more than 30,000 people who received its regular email updates.

Close observers of the centre believe it is adopting the tactics of wealthy US evangelical groups, notably the powerful Alliance Defence Fund, which, through its Blackstone Legal Fellowship, trains an army of Christian lawyers to defend religious freedom “through strategy, training, funding and direct litigation”.

CCFON was also deeply involved in the campaign to reduce the legal abortion limit (they think abortion should be banned) and even ran a campaign against Aaqil Ahmed being head of religion at the BBC on the basis that he was a Muslim.

Update: It could also be the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship as @tonyhatfield ventured on Twitter. Rachel Danae Stalker thinks the case might be too conservative even for them.

Update 2: I’ve just spoken to the hospital in question, who said should be releasing a statement tomorrow once the case has been resolved.

They also added the Daily Mail story had a few inaccuracies but did not want to go into them yet.

Update 3rd August: This case was dismissed by the Industrial Tribunal.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Huw Spanner

It seems rather odd to read someone on the left sneering at a woman because of her traditional cultural beliefs. Surely, that is the kind of bigotry one expects from the Hate?

And the way you use the pretext of being “willing to bet” that she is funded by the CLC to digress into an attack on that organisation as well is even more shameless than the way the Hate brings in Islam.

A bit of a disgrace, this post.

So she actually wasn’t ‘forced’ to wear trousers at all, and even despite her awkwardness she was able to continue her course, albeit limited in variety by her own impositions. So er, what are her grounds to sue then?

Does she follow Leviticus 19:19 as well?
“”‘Keep my decrees. “‘Do not mate different kinds of animals. “‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. “‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.”

4. Shatterface

I’m against religious exceptions on principle – but then again I don’t see why an employer should dictate that an employer should force a woman to cover her legs.

Had she said she wanted to wear a skirt because she likes the wind blowing around her nether regions rather than a belief in ghosts I’d probably be more sympathetic, not less.

5. Shatterface

I’ll try that again in English:

I’m against religious exceptions on principle – but then again I don’t see why an employer should force a woman to cover her legs.

Oh and this being the Daily Mail, there is obviously a Muslim angle.

Sh pointed out that Muslim midwives are allowed to vary official uniform with their own hijabs and tops.

So if this is permissible, why is a Christian (with better scriptual authority in this case – the Bible does actually say that, whereas I don’t believe the Qu’ran dictates female clothing in the same way) not allowed to follow her religious beliefs? Does seem a bit odd to me, although I trust neither the Mail nor Sunny to give a balanced view on this.

Actually, reading the story does suggest the problem here is that there is no clear uniform policy at the hospital; certainly, if it has not been shown to Ms Adewole, she has a case that the hospital is discriminating, even if accidently. I am also intrigued to know how a skirt is potentially unhygenic – this kind of strikes me (ironically) on the same line of thinking as women are unclean when menaustrating that used to mean women could not attend church one week in four…

That may explain the court case anyway. Obviously sensible thing is to ban all religious expression that interferes with the uniform (I don’t think covering the head would be a problem though…), but neither the Sunny-type ‘so political that I can’t see the wood for the trees’ left-wingers nor the outright idiot Christian fundamentalists (not a lot of sensible people in this debate is there?) seems to think that we should simply have rules that deal with all religions, and either demand special treatment or try and use what is essentially a reasonable (if based on questionable values) case to try and attack people who may not even be involved (albeit, as with Sunny, I would not be surprised to find the Christian nutters backing this).

Frankie D @3,

I would guess if she is following the dress code thing, she probably follows the other oddities as well – there have always been ‘Judaisers’ in Christianity who try to follow the Old Testament rules. They may seem nuts, but they generally don’t pick and chose any more than any other bunch of nutters following a holy book (other Christians, Muslims, Jews, Communists, Randites, the true followers of Peter Mandelson’s wisdom as expressed in his autobiography etc). And, to be honest, as least unlike me and (I’m guessing) you, they know the book they follow pretty well – it is probably better not to argue with them about it, and accept they will use it in their own way.

All the best,
Allan

When she applied for the job did the hospital say one of the requirements is to wear trousers?
It will be on her job description.
If it did why is she complaining?
If it didn’t contact her union or the RCN.
You cannot join the fire brigade and say well I am allergic to silver suits.
Also watchman if you think Sunny is wrong on every issue. Why post on his site ?.
You people have 80% of the press and blogosphere.
There is an authoritarian streak in the many right wing posters who only want ONE view to be prevalent.

I a normal modern non-medieval society no religious exceptions of any kind should be made for anything. Get another job if you’re demented delusions require you to wear something different to everyone else.

(your)

I don’t think Jesus wore trousers anyway.

Sunny’s Update 2: “I’ve just spoken to the hospital in question, who said should be releasing a statement tomorrow once the case has been resolved.
They also added the Daily Mail story had a few inaccuracies but did not want to go into them yet.”

Until then, @8 Guttman says it all really:
“It will be on her job description. If it did why is she complaining? If it didn’t contact her union or the RCN.”

We can leave all the ‘isms…’ & ‘ists..’ until we know a bit more about the whys and wherefores, perhaps, instead of empty speculations and angry voices. The ambient temperature is high enough already.

I am having more fun playing with my grandson and his Horrid Henry Terrible Goo and will worry about this when I know there is really something to worry about.

If she is a Christian and a true believer then surely she should be wearing something more a kin to what The Virgin Mary wore and I guess that is in line more with how Muslim women dress.

@ 8:

“Also watchman if you think Sunny is wrong on every issue. Why post on his site ?.”

So what, people shouldn’t express contrary opinions on internet blogs? Sounds rather boring to me.

15. Huw Spanner

I’m commenting as a man of the left, not the right – before anyone tries to dismiss me as a troll.

I find the intolerance and insensitivity of some of these comments present a kind of mirror image of the Hate’s bigotry: which is a shame.

The curious thing I have noticed about the Hate is that even though it spins its stories shamelessly, it does usually include all the salient facts, even if it places them well down the page. Which is more than Sunny has done here.

The Hate says that her complaint is *not* that the hospital obliged her to wear trousers but that she asked them at her interview whether that was a requirement and was told “No”; that the hospital (or one of its staff) then changed its tune, though it couldn’t actually show her any dress code; and that she was treated with hostility and disrespect and publicly humiliated.

If the issue had been to do with her racial identity rather than her religious identity, I suspect that the liberal left would have been loud in her defence.

I do think it is a shame that she is suing, though. Why does everything have to be reduced to money?

16. Frankie D.

Watchman @ 7

Do we assume as well that she stands apart from all for seven days when she is menstruating? If so, she probably couldn’t do the job anyway…..

I find the intolerance and insensitivity of some of these comments present a kind of mirror image of the Hate’s bigotry: which is a shame.

Frankly this is rubbish, for various reasons.

Every case should be judged on its own merit. I was against the girl Shabina Begum being allowed to wear strictly Muslim clothing, but thought the school excluding a Sikh child because he was wearing a bangle was OTT (and its little to do with religion).

To equate this to the Daily Mail is absurd – there are clealy cases of religious people suing over perceived slights to their faiths. If a nurse objected to treating you because of her religious belief – would you call reporting that also driven by bigotry?

Also, the link to Christian Concern for our Nation is there for obvious reasons. They are a bigoted group and if they were behind this it wouldn’t surprise me.

The Hate says that her complaint is *not* that the hospital obliged her to wear trousers but that she asked them at her interview whether that was a requirement and was told “No”; that the hospital (or one of its staff) then changed its tune, though it couldn’t actually show her any dress code; and that she was treated with hostility and disrespect and publicly humiliated.

Are you sure ?
Because if that is true the hospital doesn’t have a leg, mind the pun, to stand on.
What is the response of the RCN. They are quite a moderate body ?

If the issue had been to do with her racial identity rather than her religious identity, I suspect that the liberal left would have been loud in her defence.

Given the type of Christianity she espouses, this more or less is about racial identity.

18, according to the article that is not her complaint. She claims that they said in the interview her attire needs would be catered for, and that it hadn’t been fulfilled in a reasonable time. But she is essentially suing (possibly rightfully) for the situation that happened with her being ejected from theatre by a senior midwife and not having any official reason for that action given to her.

I’m partly with Huw, that it’s no good jumping on this just as it seems like another crackpot christian case, but at the same time it’s a story about a tribunal going on already, where the facts and the topline story don’t match. It stinks more to me of a case that’s 50/50 and she’s trying to pressure the hospital in to caving in to her demands.

But then there is a very large abyss where the facts of the matter should be, so maybe we shouldn’t hypothesise 😉

@ 17:

“Also, the link to Christian Concern for our Nation is there for obvious reasons. They are a bigoted group and if they were behind this it wouldn’t surprise me.”

Sunny, that is, at best, extremely weak circumstantial evidence. As you don’t have anything better to suggest a link, the last part of your article seems somewhat tenuous, to say the least.

That she must wear scrubs is just fine. Simple cotton clothes that are easy to launder and sterilise.

Especially in maternity wards.

However, that she must wear scrubs trousers, not so good.

http://www.shop.ezuniformsandscrubs.com/Scrub-Skirt-with-Cargo-Pockets-15-Colors-SKP2CR.htm

22. The question is whether she was ejected in 2009 for wearing her own scrub dress, or just her own dress/skirt, for me. There’s ambiguity there.

The bible also says that anyone who works on the Sabbath should be stoned to death. I hope she hasn’t pulled any weekend shifts.

As an aside, would a hijab actually be more hygienic since the hair would be covered?

I’m not aware that the CLC is behind this – it’s not on their website, and they’ve got the latest update on the Colin Atkinson case from yesterday.

The Atkinson case BTW has flared up again and the Mail is in full why-oh-why mode about it:

http://zelo.tv/p7Srr6

Will be interesting to see if they send hacks and snappers to crawl all over the employer’s head office and car park this time.

26. Darwin was right

I’m with Bill Hicks. When are we going to stop giving these deluded walking impediments to progress special treatment? They can believe whatever unscientific guff they like about men who live in the sky and demand they wear certain things and do stuff at particular times of day for fear of his wrath, but they can also abide by the same rules and laws as everyone else.

27. the a&e charge nurse

Given the parlous state of midwifery at the moment I would have thought a trivial matter like this came a long way second to having somebody appropriately qualified to deliver babies?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tees-13900193

After much dithering, the authorities in Austria have finally recognised the Pastafarian religion:

An Austrian atheist has won the right to be shown on his driving-licence photo wearing a pasta strainer as “religious headgear”.

Niko Alm first applied for the licence three years ago after reading that headgear was allowed in official pictures only for confessional reasons.

Mr Alm said the sieve was a requirement of his religion, pastafarianism.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14135523

Famously, according to responses for the 2001 Census in Britain, Jedi was the fourth largest reported religion:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census_in_the_United_Kingdom

@24 Yeah I was thinking that, can’t really see the hospital complaining over-much about religious clothing that has the side benefit of being more hygienic. Though I do recall a Muslim nurse/doctor kicking up a fuss about not being allowed to wear full length gloves due to hygiene concerns.

Well, if you want to live by a book that is 2000 years old then don’t work for the NHS. It did not exist 2000 years ago.

Funny how the right wing media, who are usually dismissive of workers rights find that these religious freaks should be allowed to hold every work place to ransom.

Mrs Adewole should be thankful she has a job, because if she was living 2000 years ago she would have jack shit and no rights.

Am I alone in thinking this is political correctness gone mad?

“Am I alone in thinking this is political correctness gone mad?”

Yes, but it is right wing political correctness. The media have no problem with the right wing version.

Don’t know who it is but it’s not CLC. They’d have press-released.

34. Huw Spanner

As I understand it, the NHS would be stuffed if it didn’t recruit large numbers of nurses and midwives and others from Africa, South America, the Philippines &c. A large percentage of whom will be Christians. A large percentage of whom will have gone into nursing, midwifery &c *because* they are Christians.

And, frankly, it doesn’t matter what the status of this woman’s beliefs is. It would make no difference if she had simply had an irrational fear of trousers, or a superstition that wearing trousers would bring her seven year’s bad luck. The point is – if she is telling the truth – and Sunny offers no evidence to suggest that she isn’t, except his own Mail-like bigotry – she told the hospital at her interview about her unwillingness to wear trousers and was assured that this would not be a problem. And was subsequently, so she says, treated with disrespect and hostility and then publicly humiliated.

Merely expressing your contempt for her belief/phobia/superstition merely repeats the hospital’s error.

Anyway, I always thought that liberals basically respected other people’s cultures and were sensitive to their sensibilities – I thought that was the admirable consideration for other people’s feelings that the Hate likes to damn as “political correctness”. But evidently not. Or maybe Sunny and the other sneerers on this thread are only pretend liberals.

There are statutory limits to the practices of religious faiths and cultural traditions which many of us wish to continue to see enforced in Britain regarding:

– polygamy
– forced marriages
– honour killings
– female genital mutilation
– sexual abuse of children
– witchcraft and socery

I hope most here will agree.

36. Mr S. Pill

@35

“witchcraft and socery”

What??

37. Leon Wolfson

It’s amazing how the anti-tolerance brigade always come out for these stories.
The hard-line atheists, that is.

@36: “witchcraft and socery” What??

For starters, try:

Mary is a pretty five-year-old girl with big brown eyes and a father who kicked her out onto the streets in one of the most dangerous parts of the world. Her crime: the local priest had denounced her as a witch and blamed her “evil powers” for causing her mother’s death.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/nigeria/3407882/Child-witches-of-Nigeria-seek-refuge.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_African_Vodun

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necromancy

Oh dear…

What this ridiculous case demonstrates more than anything else is the absurdities that arise when you try to take a literal interpretation of a text that has been through at least four or five different languages before it got to English.

The ‘no male attire’ rule, which comes from the Old Testament, is one that has attracted the attention of modern biblical scholars because its incongruity and, when you go back to the earliest known texts and translate them accurately it turns out that the only the male attire that the Bible commands women not to wear is that worn by men when going into battle.

So, unless her employer orders all its scrubs in khaki or a selection of camoflage patterns, then our poor deluded midwife is barking up entirely the wrong scriptural tree.

40. Mr S. Pill

@38

Oh right gotcha – the way I originally read it was as part of your list, as if actual witchcraft & sorcery were threats..! Apologies for miscomprehension!

@39: “So, unless her employer orders all its scrubs in khaki or a selection of camoflage patterns, then our poor deluded midwife is barking up entirely the wrong scriptural tree.”

The Bible is explicit on chastity laws – is said midwife pressing for those to be enforced?

20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:

21 then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die; because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

Deuteronomy 22:20-22
http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/kjv/deu022.htm

42. Zarathustra

Can I point out another reason why the hospital might want her to wear trousers rather than scrubs?

For manual handling reasons – if your job involves clambering over beds and suchlike, then it’s less restricting to do it in trousers rather than skirts.

Yes, I know historically nurses and midwives have worn skirts and dresses as part of their uniform. The hospitals used to issue them as big billowy dresses that would allow plenty of room to manoeuvre. Then the nurses would come in a week later, having gone to work with a sewing machine, raising the hemline, tightening it up, so that you’re left with something straight out of your “naughty nurse” fantasies but totally impractical for a job that involves lots of bending, stooping and leaning. Hence why these days nurse uniforms tend to have trousers.

‘Or maybe Sunny and the other sneerers on this thread are only pretend liberals.’

Of course they are true liberals.

Given a conflict between employer and employee,: they reflexively side with the employer. The only valid limits on employer power are those that come in the form of clauses in an employment contract. All relevant laws should be universal, unambiguous and context-free.

What did you think the word ‘liberal’ meant?

44. Huw Spanner

@43 *sigh* I know this is a long thread, but it might help if you read all of it.

You say: “All relevant laws should be universal, unambiguous and context-free.” The midwife’s complaint appears to be that she specifically asked at her interview what the rule was regarding dress (ie she says she told the interviewers: “My religious beliefs do not allow me to wear trousers. Would that be a problem?”). Presumably, if they had said, “Yes,” she would not have taken the job. How difficult is this very basic point to understand?

Once she had taken the job, her superiors then decided that her scruples were of no consequence, because they didn’t matter to *them*, and they accused her of being “unprofessional” and in the end, she says, publicly humiliated her. As I understand it, she is not complaining that the hospital requires midwives to wear trousers. (In fact, she complains that her superiors were not able to show her any dress code that stated that.) What she is complaining about is that the management (she alleges) told her she wouldn’t need to wear a dress and then, once she was on their payroll, criticised her and “humiliated” her for not doing so.

I would have expected a liberal, whose instinct (I always thought) was to side with the individual against the corporation, would have been, prima facie, on this woman’s side. But it seems that for many of Sunny’s readers “liberalism” = irrational (and generally ill-informed?) hostility to religious belief, and so the fact that this woman has a (rather bizarre) religious belief overrides any consideration of the fact that she may have been unjustly treated.

For the record, my COED defines “liberal” as “respectful and accepting of behaviour or opinions different from one’s own; favourable to individual rights and freedoms; … ; favouring individual liberty… ; … ; …generous…” I would say that Sunny’s post and many of the responses are, on that basis, decidedly illiberal.

And the way he originally worked in the CLC (oh! I see he has altered “I’m willing to bet” to “I have a strong feeling”, without noting the change. Good, honest journalistic practice…) was worthy of the Hate itself, I thought.

One last thought: why do so many people hide behind pseudonyms when they take part in a discussion like this? It’s interesting to note who in this thread, apart from Sunny, is happy to identify themselves and who isn’t. As so often on blogs, it’s the people who are least temperate who disguise who they are.

44. Let’s wait for the real facts.

@44 To be fair – she was able to work without wearing trousers. Indeed it explicitly says that she continued working in the post-natal care department.

47. Mr S. Pill

@44

“irrational […] hostility to religious belief”

Er, what? If anyone’s “irrational” here it’s Christians/Muslims/Jews/Hindus/whatevers who think that their particular sky-fairy mumbo-jumbo trumps the law of the land.

@ 47:

A post which, ironically enough, is a very good example of knee-jerk, irrational hostility to religion.

But it seems that for many of Sunny’s readers “liberalism” = irrational (and generally ill-informed?) hostility to religious belief,

I could have added that as another characteristic of liberalism, but I thought I might be setting up a bit of a straw man: obviously, not all liberals are that kind of bigot.

But the hostility to the idea of any mere worker having a say in what they actually do all day, a kind of boss-authoritarianism, is pretty much defining. If they didn’t have that particular view of the legitimacy of arbitrary employment contracts, they would be a leftist, not a liberal.

I don’t see why this is a problem – I don’t find myself agreeing with the Daily Mail usually, but I don’t see why allowances shouldn’t be made, as long as they don’t cause disproportionate practical problems. There’s a difference, though, between wearing something which is just a symbol of identity, and wearing an item which someone believes God has decreed they must wear. Where cases brought by Christians about crosses have fallen down in the past is that no-one seriously believes it’s a sin to be in public without wearing a cross, unlike a hijab or turban. This strikes me as a case with at least a bit more substance – ludicrous though it may be, there certainly are Christians out there (although not in large numbers in the UK any more) who believe it’s a sin for women to wear trousers. It may be, of course, that the woman’s demands were in fact impractical for some reason not reported by the Mail, with it’s pre-determined story on these things.

Of course, I’m not really agreeing with the Mail since the articles really about how Muslims get every little thing they wish for while “we” are stomped on by malevolent anti-Christian socialist types – i.e. they’re complaining about the lack of pro-Christian discrimination.

Nowadays, religious folk tend to be selective about which scriptural prescriptions they choose to apply. These days, we tend to get more of this:

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Matthew 25:29
http://www.o-bible.com/cgibin/ob.cgi?version=kjv&book=mat&chapter=25

Than this:

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12
http://www.o-bible.com/cgibin/ob.cgi?version=kjv&book=mat&chapter=7

“If they didn’t have that particular view of the legitimacy of arbitrary employment contracts, they would be a leftist, not a liberal.”

Here we live in fucking topsy-turvy world, where black is white and up is down, everyone.

53. Huw Spanner

@51 Bob, are you writing from the US by any chance? (That “religious folk” kind of suggests that you are.) In Britain, I doubt that you will find many Christians who still read, let alone quote, the King James Version of the Bible. There are any number of modern translations and most churches use one or another. In the New International Version, for example, Matthew 7.12 has Jesus saying, “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

For the record, I don’t think I know a single Christian who wouldn’t say that that is what the Bible’s ethics boil down to. I accept that I don’t know any ?Nigerian Christians. I have never heard any Christian quote Matthew 25.29 as a rule of life. In fact, most would say, like me, “H’mm. I’m not sure what Jesus was talking about there.”

DIRTY CHRISTIANS ARE THE EVIL OF THE WORLD

“In Britain, I doubt that you will find many Christians who still read, let alone quote, the King James Version of the Bible.”

Not really convinced there. My experience is that the more fundamentalist the more likely it is the KJB that is quoted.

56. Huw Spanner

@55 Oh sure. But how many fundamentalist Christians are there in Britain? More among the immigrant African community than anywhere else, I suspect.

“But how many fundamentalist Christians are there in Britain?”

Depends on how many our old lodger has managed to convert I suppose.

Lordy were we happy when he moved out……

@53: Huw Spanner

I’ve never been to America. As an ancient, I was brought up on the King James’s version so its text is the more familiar. Besides, it’s been around a lot longer than the other translations.

@53: In the New International Version, for example, Matthew 7.12 has Jesus saying, “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

As George Bernard Shaw advised way back: Don’t do unto others what you would have them do to you – their tastes may not be the same. I thought he was onto something there. Personally, I tend to go for the Confucian ethic instead:

Tsze-kung asked, saying, `Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?’ The Master said, `Is not RECIPROCITY such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.’ [Confucius: Analects 15:23]
http://www.clsp.jhu.edu/~yisu/files/cnfnl10u.pdf

To: Huw Spanner and also Leon Wolfson,

I congratulate you on your well considered, thoughtful and sensible posts on this matter – which is in great contrast to the vast numbers of intolerant, smarmy, lacking in respect folk who has posted here.

It is absolutely fine to bring secular and atheistic views and takes on our culture and society into the mainstream: but it is not fine at the same time to belittle, rubbish, snear and look down upon people who follow their religion. People from religious coemunities do an awful lot of good in our society – why knock it and try to push through an aggressive, secular atheistic society that does not tolerate other beliefs. (And by the way you can belong a religious community and take part in fostering community and taking social action and doing social good without necessarily believing the construct of ‘God’ to equate to say a belief in a ‘sky god”).

It is so hypocritical to knock ordinary Christian folk whose belief values are traditional and would have been the normative values of our society only a relatively short time ago – when the same folk on here get so worked up about any other form of discrimination.

Ordinary Christians in this country going about their business consitute no threat to our society. And yet as a perceived minority now, they are being treated less well in many individual situation than other minorities.

Moral relativism gone mad or what?

(By the way I am not a Christian).

@ 58:

“As George Bernard Shaw advised way back: Don’t do unto others what you would have them do to you – their tastes may not be the same.”

Well presumably you’d rather that people made allowances for your tastes rather than trying to force their own likes on you, so you should therefore do the same to others.

Everyone:

Haven’t posted again on this one ‘cos I am a bit fed up, not to say disgusted, with all the twists and turns..

However, as an Eng Lit lecturer I often got asked what book/character had influenced me most as a child. No contest: Mrs Do-as-you-would-be-done-by in Kingsley’s The’Water Babies’. But I didn’t have any time for her sister, Mrs Be-done-by as-you-did. This was of course long before I was old enough to understand the concept of Muscular Christianity, or Moral Fables btw.

Mrs DAYWBDB exemplifies the Golden Rule to which I hope we would all aspire what ever faith or political allegiance?

@59: “I congratulate you on your well considered, thoughtful and sensible posts on this matter – which is in great contrast to the vast numbers of intolerant, smarmy, lacking in respect folk who has posted here.”

A recurring issue for some of us is the selective invocation of scriptural authority by those with religious faith to justify their personal rejection of social norms and to issue prescriptive and proscriptive injunctions for the rest of us to follow:

Let’s recap a little more widely:

When Ireland’s prime minister, Enda Kenny, dared to attack the Vatican’s role in the alleged cover-up of child abuse, he unleashed an unprecedented row between the Catholic church and the Irish state, with Rome recalling its ambassador to Dublin, and one priest even comparing Kenny to Adolf Hitler.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/29/vatican-row-new-ireland

(AP) CANBERRA, Australia — Roman Catholic hospitals in Australia apologized on Monday for forcing unmarried mothers to give up babies for adoption decades ago and urged state governments to accept financial responsibility for the once-widespread practice.
http://www.xydo.com/toolbar/24993954-catholic_health_australia_regrets_adoption_policy

Child migrants: ‘I didn’t belong to anybody’: Harold Haig was among thousands of child migrants who were deported to Australia and subjected to horrific physical and sexual abuse. A new film depicts their plight
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/apr/07/child-migrants-oranges-and-sunshine-film

@59: “Moral relativism gone mad or what?”

I think David Hume – a declared Tory – made a fairly convincing case for the roots of our moral sentiments in his essay in 1748:

“All moral duties may be divided into two kinds. The first are those to which men are impelled by a natural instinct … which operates on them, independent of all ideas of obligation, and of all views either to public or private utility. Of this nature are love of children, gratitude to benefactors, pity to the unfortunate. … The second kind of moral duties are such as are not supported by any original instinct of man but are performed entirely from a sense of obligation, when we consider the necessities of human society, and the impossibility of supporting it, if these duties were neglected. …. We shall only observe, before we conclude, that though an appeal to general opinion may justly, in the speculative sciences of metaphysics, natural philosophy, or astronomy, be deemed unfair and inconclusive, yet in all questions with regard to morals, as well as criticism, there is really no other standard, by which any controversy can ever be decided.”
http://www.constitution.org/dh/origcont.htm

Oh and now I am in a thoroughly bad mood due to some of the more outrageous statements on this thread I would just like to point you all to the words written by the wonderful Holly Near, sung so well in this link by Roy Bailey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3c192pa6f_o
refrain ‘I am afraid of what you do in the name of your God’ – God here being the generic God of all religions.

And yes I do practise a religion but would hate to say which one in case someone felt it OK to deride it ‘just because’. I won’t force mine at you if you don’t force yours [or lack of yours] at me. OK?

@60: “Well presumably you’d rather that people made allowances for your tastes rather than trying to force their own likes on you, so you should therefore do the same to others.”

FWIW I think that the Confusian ethic cited @58 is preferable to the familiar Christian ethic.

For a start, the Confucian ethic would have cleared out ruled the Optium Wars 1839-42 and 1856-60 as well as General Dyer’s Amritsar massacre in 1919.

@ 64:

“For a start, the Confucian ethic would have cleared out ruled the Optium Wars 1839-42 and 1856-60 as well as General Dyer’s Amritsar massacre in 1919.”

Erm, so would the Christian ethic. Unless you’re suggesting that the British would have liked to be invaded by another country, or General Dyer would have liked to have been killed by British soldiers?

I see a number of Christians have been writing to various papers trying to distance themselves from the events in Norway, and claiming that the terrorist was not really a Christian.

And as if by magic another Christian nut pops up. I mean ,it is not as if Christians don’t like pushing their views down everybody’s throat. Christians, Jews, Muslims, they all want to live according to what was written in books over a thousand years ago.

I do wish they would all just fuck off.

@65: “Erm, so would the Christian ethic. Unless you’re suggesting that the British would have liked to be invaded by another country, or General Dyer would have liked to have been killed by British soldiers?”

Britain’s prevailing de facto foreign policy ethic in those times was “might is right”, as exemplified in the unofficial anthem: Britannia Rules the Waves, which dates from the 1740s btw.

I suspect General Dyer would have declared himself willing to be massacred by a superior power but took his higher military duty to be that of preserving the (Christian) British Empire by massacring any (heathens) demonstrating for Indian independence. The interesting insight is that for all the later criticisms of General Dyer, he wasn’t Court Martialed.

Famously, Christianity had little influence in East Asia but that sub-region, with its Asian tiger economies, has been manifestly more successful at economic development since WW2 than have Africa south of the Sahara and South America where the Christian churches have had extensive influence. That has led to a continuing debate as to whether the Confucian ethic is more conducive to economic growth than the Christian ethic. It is estimated that China c. 1800 contributed about a quarter of the world’s GDP.

68. Leon Wolfson

@62 – Yes, thanks for pointing out some abuses by Christianity, mostly Catholicism.

Then abusing religion in general.

Want to go over the entire “Stalin is an atheist” bit again, or do you want to target more carefully?

69. Mr S. Pill

@48

“A post which, ironically enough, is a very good example of knee-jerk, irrational hostility to religion.”

So why do you think it’s ok for one person’s irrational beliefs (religions are never rational, at all) to trump the (secular) law of the land?

70. Leon Wolfson

@69 – So, you’d be opposed to…say…. the (originally Jewish) jury trial then, as irrational. Nice.

Straw man at 70.

@68: “Then abusing religion in general.”

The Catholic Church – which only exonerated Galileo in 1992 – wasn’t the only Christian institution implicated in the forced settlement in Australia of children put up for adoption:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8360150.stm

As for other religions, try the thread here on: A US blogger, an email from Norway and Muslim demographics

FWIW I think David Hume had the right insights in his assessment of the roots of our moral sentiments – see quote and link @62

Try too his posthumously published work: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion:
http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdf/humedial.pdf

73. Huw Spanner

@64 Bob, maybe I am being obtuse, but I don’t really see that much difference between the two statements of the so-called golden rule, except that Confucius’ version could be taken as purely negative, generating a list of “Don’t do”s but no “Do”s. For example, Jesus’ version would mean “Show kindness to others, just as you would wish them to show kindness to you,” whereas Confucius’ could be taken more narrowly to mean only “Don’t actually be unkind to other people, just as you would prefer them not to be unkind to you.” Why does that seem to you better?

You say that “a recurring issue for some of us is the selective invocation of scriptural authority by those with religious faith to justify their personal rejection of social norms and to issue prescriptive and proscriptive injunctions for the rest of us to follow.” What mystifies me is why so many readers of Sunny’s post have such a raw nerve on this subject that they leap into the attack on that kind of religion – even though this blessed woman was *not* trying to dictate how anyone else dresses. She merely – if the Hate has got it right – told her prospective employees that she personally couldn’t dress a certain way, and would that be a problem; and they said no. As I said above, it makes no difference whether the issue for her was a matter of religion, superstition, phobia, cultural taboo or even sheer eccentricity – she was offered the job on one basis (that her stipulation was not a problem) and then, by her account, criticised and humiliated.

@66 Re the Norwegian man being or not being a Christian, that’s a difficult one. Was Stalin a Marxist just because he said he was one, and can Marx be held in any way responsible for the many millions Stalin arranged to have starved to death? Can we blame atheism for the even more millions that Mao saw off? I know these are hoary old questions, but no hoarier than yours.

@67 It’s curious, at least from an aggressively rationalist, anti-religious point of view, that Christianity has exploded in China over the last few decades, in spite of (sometimes unspeakably cruel) persecution. Today, at a conservative estimate, over 100 million Chinese profess Christianity, which must be well over one in 10 of the adult population – up from a few million a few decades ago. And I have heard that while persecution continues in some provinces, in others the authorities are discreetly inviting Christian missionaries in because they have found that Christian Chinese tend to be more public-spirited than others. Of course, you can interpret that in different ways, but it is fascinating however you read it.

@ Bob B

David Hume was not a Tory. He just seen the factions as arising out of factional disputes. Whatever he had to say about them was not said as a partisan but as a philosopher.

” as no party, in the present age, can well support itself without a philosophical or speculative system of principles annexed to its political or practical one, we accordingly find that each of the factions into which this nation is divided has reared up a fabric of the former kind in order to protect and cover that scheme of actions which it pursues.”

” It belongs, therefore, to a philosopher alone, who is of neither party, to put all the circumstances in the scale, and assign to each of them its proper poise and influence. . . . If he indulges any passion, it is that of derision against the ignorant multitude, who are always clamorous and dogmatical, even in the nicest questions, of which, from want of temper, perhaps still more than of understanding, they are altogether unfit judges. . . . The following reflections will, I hope, show the temper, if not the understanding of a philosopher.”

My favourite quote.

“I have written on all sorts of subjects… yet I have no enemies; except indeed all the Whigs, all the Tories, and all the Christians.”

@73: “For example, Jesus’ version would mean ‘Show kindness to others, just as you would wish them to show kindness to you,’ whereas Confucius’ could be taken more narrowly to mean only “Don’t actually be unkind to other people, just as you would prefer them not to be unkind to you.” Why does that seem to you better?”

Exactly what constitutes “kindness” is theologically malleable. In Europe, we had 30 years of war 1618-48, with one or another Christian sovereign state invading a neighbouring state to install the theologically “correct” sectarian brand of Christianity on its inhabitants to save their immortal souls from eternal perdition. What could be kinder than that? It is a serious mistake to suppose such impelling sentiments have entirely dissipated by now:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10493551

The Confucian ethic, unlike the Christian ethic, allows for the possibility that your personal preferences may differ from mine. The Christian ethic doesn’t.

@73 “It’s curious, at least from an aggressively rationalist, anti-religious point of view, that Christianity has exploded in China over the last few decades, in spite of (sometimes unspeakably cruel) persecution.”

For various reasons, Christianity had relatively little historic influence in other East Asian countries besides PRC.

The challenging issue is to explain why it is that post-WW2 East Asian economies, starting with Japan, have performed so well compared with economies in Sub-Sarah Africa and most of South America where the Christian churches have had extensive influence.

Various hypotheses have been put up, of which the Confucian ethic v the Christian ethic is only one. The social consequences of traditional means of cultivating rice is another – neighbourly cooperation is required to maintain irrigation systems and for planting and harvesting rice. The higher population densities of Asia is another as this facilitates social interactions and the exchange of ideas.

76. Leon Wolfson

@72 – Then maybe Gallilo Gallei, who was a braggot and lacked common politeness, should not have called one of his major supporters, the Pope, a simpleton. In print. He was as much the author of his misfortune as anyone, and there are far better examples of martyrs you can pick.

Again, it’s not my religion, and your blaming me for it is as sensible as my blaming you for Stalin.

Want to go over the entire “Stalin is an atheist” bit again, or do you want to target more carefully?

He was indeed. Alas for your argument he was far more likely to have been motivated by his political ideology than by his lack of belief in Xenu (to pick a random valid example).

78. Leon Wolfson

Why alas for anything? He was an atheist, and atheists are being obnoxious in this thread.

If this doesn’t make sense to you, then consider the fact that – just perhaps – saying that all religious people are irrational because of the actions of the leaders of one religion might just be obnoxious in itself.

Not to mention intolerant.

Especially since this case looks like, unless we have further information, a breach by the hospital. There are, as has been pointed out, scrub trousers so it’s likely that accommodation could have been made well within the realm of medical safety as well.

@78 She didn’t actually get the sack you know, just couldn’t work where she liked – it even says as much in the bleeding OP. ISTM that the hospital took on board her views and assigned her work where she wouldn’t need to wear scrubs which then wouldn’t conflict with her beliefs.
Or perhaps the Hospital are being outrageous shits by not ordering her special scrubs so she could work in the hygiene concious areas of natal care. *shrugs*

80. Leon Wolfson

Ah, so it’s fine with you to exclude anyone with beliefs which don’t fit into a narrow range from SOME, but not all activities, even if there are reasonable adaptations (which would generally be at THEIR expense) which could be made? I see.

Or… tolerance is tolerance, and exclusion is exclusion, which is something I’ve believed for years, been attacked over (hi BNP!) and am quite willing to stand up for.

It’s sad that people like you want to drive me from this country, Britain.

@80 Perhaps my opinion is coloured by the fact my employment contract essentially boils down to ‘do what we tell you to do, and you’ll receive fantastic cash prizes every month’.

@ 67:

“Britain’s prevailing de facto foreign policy ethic in those times was “might is right”,”

An idea which is completely contrary to Christian ethics as espoused in the Gospels.

“I suspect General Dyer would have declared himself willing to be massacred by a superior power but took his higher military duty to be that of preserving the (Christian) British Empire by massacring any (heathens) demonstrating for Indian independence.”

Firstly, there’s no evidence that the massacre was religiously motivated, so I’m not sure what “Christian” and “heathens” are doing there. Secondly, I think we need a bit more than your suspicions to go on.

“The interesting insight is that for all the later criticisms of General Dyer, he wasn’t Court Martialed.”

Interesting, but not, as far as I can see, particularly relevant.

@ 69:

“So why do you think it’s ok for one person’s irrational beliefs (religions are never rational, at all) to trump the (secular) law of the land?”

I never said it was, merely that your post was an example of “irrational… hostility to religious belief”. Phrases like “sky-fairy mumbo-jumbo” make you look rather hostile and irrational, you know.

Also, on what grounds do you claim that “religions are never rational, at all”?

@ 75:

“The Confucian ethic, unlike the Christian ethic, allows for the possibility that your personal preferences may differ from mine. The Christian ethic doesn’t.”

Erm, no. You’d presumably want other people to take reasonable steps to accomodate your preferences; therefore, you should take reasonable steps to accomodate other people’s preferences.

@ 77:

Oh, I see, so because Stalin was motivated by political ideology, all political ideologies are wrong. Just like how some people were motivated to do bad things by religion, therefore religion is wrong.

@82 : “Interesting, but not, as far as I can see, particularly relevant.”

Try this on General Dyer and the massacre at Amritsar in 1919:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reginald_Dyer

On his return to Britain, Brigadier Dyer was presented with a purse of 26,000 pounds sterling, a huge sum in those days, which emerged from a collection on his behalf by the Morning Post, a conservative, pro-Imperialistic newspaper, which later merged with the Daily Telegraph. A Thirteen Women Committee was constituted to present “the Saviour of the Punjab with sword of honour and a purse.”

Oh, and also @ 69:

Unless there’s been some law passed without my notice which requires nurses to wear trousers, she’s not actually trying to say her religion should trump the law. Nor is she trying to impose her trouser-related beliefs on other people. Instead, she’s just trying to do what she was told she’d be able to do when she started work at the hospital. You may not think the Daily Mail accurate enough to trust it as a source, but the correct thing to do then is to wait until further details emerge, not make up your own details based on your own anti-religious prejudice.

@ 86:

I still fail to see the relevance of this to a debate on Christian vs. Confucian ethics.

@88: “I still fail to see the relevance of this to a debate on Christian vs. Confucian ethics.”

I feel sure that the Morning Post couldn’t have regarded General Dyer’s massacre at Amritsar in 1919 as conducted by anything other than the best Christian principles or the paper wouldn’t have campaigned so assiduously on his behalf.

@85 Straw man – its much more likely that Stalin’s particular political ideology is wrong, You’ll not find many Secularists or Atheists willing to tear out Jainists for example, but fundamentalist Christians/Muslims/whatevers on the other hand… (and that’s despite the rather unfortunate theft of Jainism’s holy symbol, the swastika)

Plus I’ve not actually made one of those sweeping statements you mentioned in this thread, however the claim that ‘Stalin was a murderous twunt because of his atheism’ is incorrect compared to the claim of ‘Stalin was a murderous twunt because of his Stalinism’. The latter provides a motivation, the former tells you sweet fa.

91. Huw Spanner

@75 I think that most students of the Bible would totally reject your notion that there can be any such thing as a “Christian sovereign state”. Individual people are Christians, not politico-economic structures. And, as I said earlier, Jesus himself made it clear that we could discern whether people were genuinely his followers by the “fruit” their lives bore – fruit that the apostle Paul identified as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. Not exactly the hallmarks of the Thirty Years War.

I see you just ignore my point about China. Ah well. Faced with the phenomenal growth of pernicious, medievalist religion in a state that has used the most extreme violence to try to eradicate it altogether, let’s talk about economics instead, it’s so much less threatening.

Re Stalin, Hitler, Mao &c, I think this observation by John Gray is very shrewd:

“The secular realm is a Christian invention [which] goes back to the precept of Jesus to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, which later on was theor­ised by Augustine in his idea that human government will always be radically imperfect. The notion of sep­ar­ating religion from the practice of politics is a very wise precaution against fanaticism, which was, par­adoxically but predict­ab­ly, forgotten when secular moral enthusiasm re­placed Christianity.

“What then ensued were the political religions of the 20th century, which was the worst century in history in terms not only of the numbers murdered but also of the reason they were killed. People have al­ways been killed by tyrants, and even by intoler­ant rel­igions; but what was unique in the 20th century (though I think the first instances of it go back to the Jacobins) is that very large numbers of people were slaughtered in order to perfect humanity.

“The notion of perfecting humanity by regener­at­ive violence is new. And that is a mutation, it seems to me, of the moral passions of Western mono­the­ism (in which I would include Islam in this respect) whilst removing the wise precautions that August­ine and other great Christian thinkers insist on, that, first, you cannot know exactly what the prov­id­­ent­ial or­der is going to be in the world, so you should never take it on yourself to implement it, and, sec­ond, that human institutions are incorrig­ibly flawed, so you should never try to perfect them.”

92. Charlieman

@45. Lee Griffin: “Let’s wait for the real facts.”

Exactly. The reporting of this story smells very fishy.

@44. Huw Spanner: “One last thought: why do so many people hide behind pseudonyms when they take part in a discussion like this?”

I use a nickname but I do not hide behind it. For convenience, I have used the same nickname for about 15 years on a variety of forums. I use the nickname so that my work career identity is not associated with my social life identity (also, there is another geezer with the same name as me in the same business, and I would not wish to cause problems for him). Lots of people can easily work out the real name of Charlieman; but if you started off from my real name, the connection would be more difficult to establish.

93. Huw Spanner

Is anyone else enjoying the irony of this page being graced with an ad for “the Good Shape dress”? Now, if only all midwives had to wear that…

@ 89:

The fact that some people have misunderstood Christian ethics doesn’t prove that Christian ethics are flawed. Some people have misunderstood hedonism to mean continual self-gratification, but that in itself doesn’t prove that hedonism is flawed.

@91: “And, as I said earlier, Jesus himself made it clear that we could discern whether people were genuinely his followers by the “fruit” their lives bore – fruit that the apostle Paul identified as ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’.”

And where exactly does that leave the Catholic church?

96. Huw Spanner

@95 Where indeed? Or any other church? As I said, it is individual people who are Christians, not organisations or structures.

An interesting aspect of Christianity as (if you like) a theory of everything is that it not only explains how things can go wrong but it predicts that they will do. As the old joke goes in the pews, there is no point looking for the perfect church, because as soon as you join it you’ll spoil it. It is no shock to Christians when people point out that their “saints” are deeply flawed, because that is exactly what the “theory” says they will be, because they are fallen human beings. Christians may look forward to “the New Jerusalem”, they may try to create a foretaste of it, but (pace Blake, and unlike the Jacobins, the Nazis, the Maoists, the Khmer Rouge and others) they should not be under any illusion that they can actually build it here.

An example of the unpleasant intolerance being shown on this thread: –

sally@30 –

“Funny how the right wing media, who are usually dismissive of workers rights find that these religious freaks should be allowed to hold every work place to ransom.

Mrs Adewole should be thankful she has a job, because if she was living 2000 years ago she would have jack shit and no rights.”

and sally@66

And as if by magic another Christian nut pops up. I mean ,it is not as if Christians don’t like pushing their views down everybody’s throat. Christians, Jews, Muslims, they all want to live according to what was written in books over a thousand years ago.

I do wish they would all just fuck off”

Apart from the unnecessary bad language, “sally” refers to ordinary people who are practising Christians as – religious freaks and a Christian nut.

She then makes an appalling statement wishing that Christians, Jews and Muslims just go away. This statement must surely be challenged. What does “sally” want to happens to Christians, Jews and Muslims? Killed, locked up, undergo brainwashing a la 1984?

And our Sunny (fresh from his battering by MP) lays into Christians but surely he should express horror at what Sally has said about Muslims.

As for the serial problems of the Catholic Church, this assessment as to causes by Father Amorth, the Vatican’s chief exorcist for 25 years, is starting to look alarmingly credible:

The evil influence of Satan was evident in the highest ranks of the Catholic hierarchy, with ‘cardinals who do not believe in Jesus and bishops who are linked to the demon,’ Father Amorth said.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/7416458/Chief-exorcist-says-Devil-is-in-Vatican.html

Well. Case dismissed.

“Well. Case dismissed.”

But is there any other possible explanation, other than Satanic infiltration, for the serial problems of the Catholic Church, with the sexual abuse of children by the priesthood, which go back decades according to the unending reports in the news? As the Vatican’s chief exorcist for 25 years, I reckon Father Amorth was placed to know more a thing or two about recognising demonic manifestations when he encounters them.

IMO they will need to bring back the Spanish Inquisition to get to the truth:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSe38dzJYkY

@ 90:

It’s exactly the same kind of logic being used by Bob B, if “logic” is really the right word.

@101 It’s not the word I’d use anyway.

103. Flowerpower

Bob B

The first are those to which men are impelled by a natural instinct … which operates on them, independent of all ideas of obligation, and of all views either to public or private utility. Of this nature are love of children…

Tell that to Hindley & Brady. They didn’t seem so “impelled”.

I suspect General Dyer would have declared himself willing to be massacred by a superior power but took his higher military duty to be that of preserving the (Christian) British Empire by massacring any (heathens) demonstrating for Indian independence. The interesting insight is that for all the later criticisms of General Dyer, he wasn’t Court Martialed.

Considering Amritsar in tems of religion is a pretty worthless line of analysis. And Dyer was stripped of his post and employment in the army following a Committee of Enquiry.

But this is Bob ‘Rowley Birkin QC’ B we’re talking about here. Did I ever tell you about the time I was in Poona…mumble mumble…

105. Robin Levett

One thing I don’t fully understand here. Ms Adewole refuses to wear scrub trousers because of a bible verse forbidding women from wearing men’s clothing. What exactly was “men’s clothing” in 7th Century BC Palestine? I would be vaguely surprised if it was scrub trousers.

Wouldn’t scrubs generally, whether skirt or trousers, be a problem anyway for anyone applying Leviticus 19:19 in all its strictness? Given that they are all mixed fibre, with the synthetic being at least in part originally animal in derivation.

PS. Could those arguing over Stalin please mention his education?

106. Huw Spanner

@105 Robin, for those who dismiss all religion as irrational mumbo-jumbo, this woman’s belief is no dafter than the Archbishop of Canterbury’s. However, for those of us who can recognise that a lot of religion is both rational and reasoned, it does seem a bit potty. That’s why I have argued above a) that her case against the hospital would have had the same force if the issue for her had been a superstition, a phobia or merely a bizarre eccentricity, and b) that her issue is as much cultural as religious.

I don’t know what a rabbi or an Old Testament scholar would say was the point of this ancient law against cross-dressing – maybe it was just a taboo against transvestitism, maybe it was to prevent people adopting specific, deliberately pervy magical ritual practices from surrounding cultures, maybe it was a necessary measure to try to create some order in what was then (I think) still a rabble of former slaves, steeped in violence, living in, in effect, a vast, migrating refugee camp. Who knows? But, anyway, the issue was presumably that men should not dress up as women and vice versa. If this woman had spoken to the hospital chaplain, no doubt s/he would have pointed out that in Britain wearing trousers does not = dressing up as a man, since trousers are now universally accepted here as non-gender-specific clothing. (Meanwhile, in Nigeria it is normal and acceptable for men to wear clothes that in this country most blokes would consider decidedly feminine: http://bit.ly/oN1xBk!) In short, I think this woman’s belief was shaped more by her cultural assumptions as an African than by any understanding of the point of that ancient Hebrew law.

107. Huw Spanner

Various posts on this thread (not least re the Amritsar Massacre) prompted me to look up the history of the rules of war in Wikipedia. The oldest humanitarian laws cited were laid down by the first Caliph in the early 600s AD:

“Do not act treacherously. You must not mutilate dead bodies, or kill a child, a woman or an old man. Do not damage or burn trees, especially fruit trees. Don’t kill any of the enemies’ livestock except for food. When you encounter any monks, leave them be” (my paraphrase, to get rid of the quaint old English).

These rules were put into practice during the early Muslim conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries. After the expansion of the Caliphate, Islamic legal treatises from the 9th century onwards covered the application of Islamic military jurisprudence to international law, including the law of treaties; the treatment of diplomats, hostages, refugees and prisoners of war; the right of asylum; conduct on the battlefield; protection of women, children and non-combatant civilians; contracts across the lines of battle; the use of poisonous weapons; and devastation of enemy territory.

These laws were put into practice during the Crusades, most notably by Saladin and Sultan al-Kamil. After al-Kamil defeated the Franks, Oliverus Scholasticus praised the Islamic laws of war, commenting on how al-Kamil supplied the defeated Frankish army with food:

“Who could doubt that such goodness, friendship and charity come from God? Men whose parents, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, had died in agony at our hands, whose lands we took, whom we drove naked from their homes, revived us with their own food when we were dying of hunger and showered us with kindness even when we were in their power.”

Obviously, Christians have to account for the atrocious behaviour of the Crusaders, who were at least in part inspired (and don’t seem to have been constrained) by their religion. But I would be interested to know whether the ardent atheists on this thread can cite earlier examples of humanitarian rules of war propagated by secular humanist rulers. Maybe Alexander? Marcus Aurelius? Does anyone know?

@Flowerpower: “Tell that to Hindley & Brady. They didn’t seem so ‘impelled’.”

No, they certainly didn’t, nor Graham Young, but what has that to do with the sources of our moral sentiments? Some humans – including those professing profound religious faith, like all those Catholic priests who abused children and the Islamic terrorists – lack a moral compass. Most psychiatrists recognise psychopathy as a mental illness. Try this clinical discussion of sociopaths versus psychopaths, which sets out diagnostic tests:

Traits that sociopaths and psychopaths share include:
– a disregard for the rights of others
– a failure to feel remorse or guilt
– a disregard for laws and social mores
– a tendency to display violent behavior and emotional outbursts
http://helpingpsychology.com/sociopath-vs-psychopath-whats-the-difference

Btw while I note the accusations being flung around here about my supposed lack of “logic”, I also note the glaring absence of analytical discussion as to where my reasoning is supposedly flawed. One essential point is the highly selective use of scriptural references to justify personal rejections of social norms and to issue prescriptive and proscriptive injunctions for the rest of us to follow. On the evidence, that can hardly be disputed otherwise we would stoning to enforce chasisty laws as prescribed in Deuteronomy 22:20-22
http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/kjv/deu022.htm

Anyone think she might be crap and they were looking for an excuse.
By the way which country did this lady train to be a midwife, there might be cultural or practices that differ from the rest of the midwives, hence the problem between herself and the staff.

Traits that sociopaths and psychopaths share include:
– a disregard for the rights of others
– a failure to feel remorse or guilt
– a disregard for laws and social mores
– a tendency to display violent behavior and emotional outbursts
Christ, sounds like the mother in law.
Bob, I recommend Jon Ronson’s new book on this issue, a tad simplistic but the idea that many CEO’s are border line Psychos is an amusing hypothesis.

“Bob, I recommend Jon Ronson’s new book on this issue, a tad simplistic but the idea that many CEO’s are border line Psychos is an amusing hypothesis.”

They call it “leadership”, don’t they?

Btw Graham Young and his obsessive interest in toxicology was an example I was thinking of what most psychiatrists agree is that of a psychopathic personality. He ended up in Broadmoor.

Young was very knowledgeable about poisons and made no attempt to conceal his special interest in what amounted to a hobby. He liked to administer poisons to unwitting victims to observe and write up the effects with evident detachment.

The instructive (and alarming) case history is here:
http://www.crimeandinvestigation.co.uk/crime-files/graham-young/crime.html;jsessionid=B4748D3F74FE1FD8F4832C984D1FA154

113. Just Visiting

The Telegraph reports the Tribunal outcome:

On Tuesday night the midwife’s claim was rejected by the tribunal. It ruled that the strict uniform policy in force at Queen’s Hospital did not disadvantage Christians and was “legitimate and proportionate for infection control”.

Interesting – has that Tribunal really had to time to check that 100% of other hospitals enforce trousers too? Or how did they decide it was legitimate and proportionate?

114. Just Visiting

A quick google found a page from Royal United Hospital Hospital, Bath:

Clinical staff working in the operating theatres MUST don the conventional theatre clothing provided i.e. suit or dress.

So dresses are allowed at that hospital…

http://www.ruh.nhs.uk/about/policies/documents/clinical_policies/blue_clinical/Blue_741_Operating_Theatre_Dress.pdf

Just visiting’s concern for workers rights is soooooooooooo boring.

Because this person is a Christian they get special treatment by the loony right wing

@113 I imagine this line might be important:

It ruled that the strict uniform policy in force at Queen’s Hospital did not disadvantage Christians and was “legitimate and proportionate for infection control”

For it to disadvantage Christians (plural) it needed to be shown that it actually affected more than one single women following an esoteric interpretation of Christianity. Which, unless Christianity has taken an interesting turn in this here nation, it clearly doesn’t.

117. Just Visiting

Not sure why so few here are interested in the facts: But the local newspaper suggests that Mrs Adewole’s tribunal claim was thrown out, because the hospital did later allow her to wear dresses:

the tribunal heard that after complaining repeatedly to her bosses Mrs Adewole received two scrub dresses and others had been ordered for her.

http://www.bdpost.co.uk/news/queens_midwife_s_christian_discrimination_claim_thrown_out_1_984540

I wish Mrs Adewole’s would stay at home and serve her husband because that is all she is good at.

119. Just Visiting

Sally, maybe you didn’t read what I posted.

To spell it out -the hospital staff that forced the women to wear trousers were WRONG – and the hospital later reversed their actions and issued her with dresses.

So Mrs Adewole appears to be the innocent party in this situation.

One day Sally, maybe Sunny will ban your hate-filled posts.

120. Leon Wolfson

@117 – So, they did in fact act (probably /after/ the tribunal action was launched, funny how that works) to do the reasonable thing.

Well, there we go.

They caved in because of her religion. No doubt she will want something else next week, and the rabid right wing will demand it because she is a christian.

In my experience of hospitals, they each like to have their own distinctive uniforms for nursing staff and post colour-printed charts to so inform in-patients to enable the latter to distinguish between nursing auxiliaries, nurses, staff nurses, sisters etc.

This is the first time that I’ve come across any nurse/midwife claiming that wearing trousers offends their Christian principles.

Shame she didn’t get her hands on that 7 grand of taxpayers money she was after.

My point in posting details of the Graham Young case @112 is to illustrate, in an extreme form, the observable characteristics of a psychotic personality and, by implication, to suggest that likely corresponds with Anders Behring Breivik’s condition – as well as that of at least some of the 7/11 and Mumbai Islamic terrorists.

It was also discernible among the Nazi hierarchy. By many accounts, Reinhard Heydrich, who was tasked in the SS with detailed logistics planning for the holocaust, was a cultured, charming man who loved classical music. He was not otherwise brutish and nor was he obviously irrational.

Are not other posters concerned at the hate filled, vitriolic anti Christian, anti Jewish and anti Muslim posts of ‘sally’.

She goes on about a rabid right wing – what about a rabid sally? If she claims to be rabid left wing then the left is indeed in a sorry place.

126. Huw Spanner

@124 Bob, have you read the novel “The Kindly Ones”? http://amzn.to/qZRwYf Disturbing but fascinating.

@125: Paul

I suspect that Sally feels repelled by all the harm and hurt inflicted by the most ardent professed adherents of religious faiths.

@126: Huw

I seldom read novels nowadays – there’s a pile of non-fiction books besides me to read before I get to novels.

128. Leon Wolfson

@127 – That’s an excuse for Sally’s actions. If she feels that way, she should call them out.

Instead, she’s being intolerant, when the majority of those groups hasn’t done anything in violation of the societal norms we have today.

Rabid is rabid, regardless what ideology they try and espouse. When it’s only a few, it’s just that some people are like that. It’s only when it’s a *lot* of them that it’s a real problem. And I’m looking at the BNP and EDF there, to be clear.

129. Just Visiting

Sunny

why do you allow Sally to post such rubbish – it is not based on facts, and does not add to a meaningful debate.

She is a stuck record – constantly attacking christians and the ‘rabid right’.

> They caved in because of her religion.

No Sally – they caved in because they realised they had no grounds to force this women to wear trousers – so they issued her with scrubs trousers.

If you look back on LC there are long debates about the ‘clothing’ issue of the Hijab ban in France for example: where many LC people express reluctance that dress codes should be enforced by law.
But in this case, LC folk are strangely silent about dress codes being enforced in a discriminatory way….

This reflects of course the obvious anti-christian bias of Sally and other LC posters.

Indeed Sally, you ignore the fact that those of non-christian faith were allowed to wear clothes in theatre that matched their faith needs – but that some management staff decided arbitrarily to not apply that flexibility to her.

> No doubt she will want something else next week,

You are so certain in your views Sally, you don’t realise how bigoted you sound.
Christians ‘always want something else’ in your view, eh?
But the facts of this case, are that she only wanted what any employer should provide – not to have a dress code enforced on her without good grounds.

> and the rabid right wing will demand it because she is a christian.

I don’t see any demands so far from the right wing – rabid or not.

I just see some public sector staff who appear to have victimised this woman. Why they victimised her, The facts I’ve read don’t explain: was it work-place bullying – was she selected because of her faith? Or culture or accent?

130. Just Visiting

whoops -Edit is needed:

> so they issued her with scrubs trousers.

I meant

> so they issued her with scrubs dresses

Shame she didn’t get her hands on that 7 grand of taxpayers money she was after.
I hate to say this but you have nailed it.
I bet you an ambulance chasing lawyer is behind this.
Also what does the RCN say about the incident

“The Telegraph reports the Tribunal outcome:

On Tuesday night the midwife’s claim was rejected by the tribunal. It ruled that the strict uniform policy in force at Queen’s Hospital did not disadvantage Christians and was “legitimate and proportionate for infection control”.

Interesting – has that Tribunal really had to time to check that 100% of other hospitals enforce trousers too? Or how did they decide it was legitimate and proportionate?”
Perhaps the tribunal felt that this hospital had higher hygienic standards.
Also are we getting all the facts, the tribune will have them.
Remember she can still go to the civil courts.

@126. Huw Spanner
@124 Bob, have you read the novel “The Kindly Ones”? http://amzn.to/qZRwYf Disturbing but fascinating.

Thanks for the heads up on this novel, Huw. I have just ordered it from you-know-where [no advertising!]

I have followed this thread with increasing concern, watching with dismay the way that various contributors have used the debate to air their own particular bigotries and make closed mind and rather inflammatory statements. Some participants in the debate have made rather odd linkages [eg Christian = right wing, definitely not in my case matey!] and pleas for tolerance from myself and others and interesting discussions on the Golden Rule have been swamped by rants on Amritsar and any other atrocity that could be linked – however vaguely – to any religion. Colonialism and the ills of Empire have also been invoked.

Yet if we take the case back to the start what do we have? A woman [sorry to have be gender specific here but I am stating FACTS] was employed by an NHS facility. At her interview she stated she would not wear trousers [no need really to say why] Interviewer said that was fine, no dress code here. On entering the job she was told she must wear sterile ‘scrub’ trousers. Now an employee she expressed her unwillingness to wear such trousers and although she was not sacked she was told that she could not therefore work in/ access all areas to which her training would entitle her. Employer has now provided her with sterile clothes which are acceptable to both sides. All is now peaceful. A good story? Only when the contentious words “Christian” & “Muslim” and the names of any fundalmentist orgainsations who ‘might’ be helping are mixed in with it and a bit of bigotry from a few observers we end up with a thread of over 130 increasingly angry comments.

Enough already!

Yet if we take the case back to the start what do we have? A woman [sorry to have be gender specific here but I am stating FACTS] was employed by an NHS facility. At her interview she stated she would not wear trousers [no need really to say why] Interviewer said that was fine, no dress code here. On entering the job she was told she must wear sterile ‘scrub’ trousers. Now an employee she expressed her unwillingness to wear such trousers and although she was not sacked she was told that she could not therefore work in/ access all areas to which her training would entitle her. Employer has now provided her with sterile clothes which are acceptable to both sides. All is now peaceful. A good story? Only when the contentious words “Christian” & “Muslim” and the names of any fundalmentist orgainsations who ‘might’ be helping are mixed in with it and a bit of bigotry from a few observers we end up with a thread of over 130 increasingly angry comments.

Enough already!
True but who took the story to newspaper and made accusations against muslim fellow workers of favouritism.

@134 Guttman
True but who took the story to newspaper and made accusations against muslim fellow workers of favouritism.

True, you have me there! However I have looked at the original Mail article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2021483/Devout-Christian-midwife-sues-hospital-making-wear-trousers-surgery-Muslims-vary-uniform-religious-reasons.html#ixzz1U98lbRYb This is not a quality piece of journalism, imo, f’r instance it does not make it clear which hospital is the one ‘at fault’ – City Hospital, London or Queens Hospital, Romford. And it is the Mail headline which links ‘Devout Christian’ with ‘Muslims’. Quality.

If a journalist looked at the bare bones of the story as I did and then thought ‘how could I make this sensational?’ – well that’s the way it is done. Good lesson for aspiring gutter press writers. Whilst I and many others could supply quality press writers with far more true ‘scandals’ like the disabled who are being turned down by the ATOS system for benefits – but that wouldn’t be such fun to rant about would it!!

[For those who asked which part of the Bible the midwife was quoting, the article states it is Deuteronomy 22:5 (New International Version) states: ‘A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does.’]
:

El
Sorry my tone was “not have you”
I think your correct.
The whole issue could have been sorted out internally, which it was.
Both sides wanted to make a political point.
But she obviously also wanted to make a political point.
Also as C pointed out the compensation culture with public bodies may behind this story

@135 An arguably transphobic verse from the bible, it’s worth pointing out.

138. Huw Spanner

@137 I’ve already suggested that at @106 as one possible reason for the prohibition, plus two others. You’d really have to ask a rabbi to explain what it was all about.

“For those who asked which part of the Bible the midwife was quoting, the article states it is Deuteronomy 22:5 (New International Version) states: ‘A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does.'”

But why invoke Deuteronomy 22:5 and not Deuteronomy 22:20-22 to stone unchaste damsels and adulterers as the Islamacists want to?
:

140. Huw Spanner

@139 The problem is, Bob, that you dismiss Christianity out of hand as irrational mumbo-jumbo and then wonder why none of it makes sense. To make any sense of *anything*, from hieroglyphics to mathematics, you first have to admit the possibility that there is sense to be made, and then actually listen with an open mind while someone explains to you what that sense is.

141. Leon Wolfson

@140 – Not even that.

It’s a matter of tolerance. If reasonable accommodation can be made, then it should. What’s “reasonable” is going to vary, of course, and sometimes the person should be expected to bear part of the cost.

@140: “you first have to admit the possibility that there is sense to be made, and then actually listen with an open mind while someone explains to you what that sense is.”

Various folk have been trying to get me into religion for decades – I even got taken to a Billy Graham meeting at one time. Try Elmer Gantry for inspiration:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMXR2wBcLIM

All I’m asking right now is why we should be following the scriptural authority of Deuteronomy 22:5 but not Deuteronomy 22:20-22 ? That shouldn’t be too difficult.

@142 Bob B
“All I’m asking right now is why we should be following the scriptural authority of Deuteronomy 22:5 but not Deuteronomy 22:20-22 ? That shouldn’t be too difficult.”

We could all go on throwing Biblical quotes and references to each other to prove/disprove whatever we wanted. The above reference by you proves that in this quote it was thought father should feel himself/be made to feel himself/ responsible for the actions of his daughter before she is stoned to death for her promiscuity.

A few of my thoughts on this [and these are my thoughts as a Christian so please don’t attack the whole history of religion, Christianity or otherwise, just because you may disagree with me]:

1. I am really glad I didn’t live in these times, because when this was written it was obviously a reflection of the contemporary times of the writer.
2. Other cultures do still regard promiscuity/adultery in women as a very serious crime. Again I am very glad I live in the UK in the 21st century – not for me, I am too old [!] but for my sisterhood!
3. As has been the subject of many comments on here, whatever version of the Bible one reads there are many translations so we can never be sure that what we are reading is what the writer intended – whether we like what we are reading or not.
4. No one person wrote the Bible. It is rather like a Newspaper today – we may like one article by one journo but not one by another. In fact the word ‘gospel’ means ‘good news’ – and were written after the events described by four different ‘authors’ . Therefore Matthew’s view of the Beatitudes, say, might and do differ from Luke’s account.

Please Bob, allow that others may have a different view of religion to you but don’t trash their views. I can accept other views [obviously I think I am right – otherwise I wouldn’t be thinking this way!] but we can all live peacefully together if we are all tolerant. Sadly too many of any persuasion [religious or otherwise] feel that force is the only way to win an argument. So my favourite Beatitude is:
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God
and if you don’t want to admit the existance of God replace it with ‘Man’, or ‘Earth’ or ‘Nature’ or whatever.

And my final, final, quote on this thread I will give to someone much wiser than me, H.G. Wells a fervent atheist, in a note to G.K. Chesterton a fervant Roman Catholic:
“….. when H.G. Wells was seriously ill, he wrote Chesterton and said, “If after all my Atheology turns out wrong and your Theology right I feel I shall always be able to pass into Heaven (if I want to) as a friend of G.K.C.’s. Bless you.”

To this Chesterton replied, “If I turn out to be right, you will triumph, not by being a friend of mine, but by being a friend of Man, by having done a thousand things for men like me in every way from imagination to criticism……”
[with thanks to http://www.tentmaker.org/biographies/chesterton.htm for this quote]

144. Huw Spanner

@143 That exchange between Wells and Chesterton is fascinating. Thank you for posting that.

The reference to Wells I had earlier thought of posting on this thread was that his scientific rationalism led him to embrace, at least for some years, some rather dreadful ideas.In his ‘experiment in prophecy’ “Anticipations”, published in 1901, he wrote: ‘[What of] those swarms of black and brown and yellow people who do not come into the needs of efficiency? Well, the world is not a charitable institution, and I take it they will have to go.’ Four years later, in “The Modern Utopia”, he wrote: “There is only one sane and logical thing to be done with a really inferior race, and that is to exterminate it.” I think I read in Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” that Wells said that it would be good if half the human race was exterminated so that the other half could prosper (but I may have got that wrong).

If he changed his mind in later life, I suspect he would have said that “sentiment” overcame “reason” in him. Religion has a lot to do with “sentiment” – what “the heart” tells us rather than what “the mind” tells us – and I would have thought that the mass extermination programmes of Stalin, Hitler, Mao &c had a great deal to do with their irreligion, if not their atheism. Culling the human population, today even more than in the late 19th century, may seem utterly heartless, but it certainly wouldn’t be mindless. In my experience, when ardent atheists splutter indignantly and insist that they are every bit as moral as religious people, what they are really saying is that they are not as entirely governed by “reason” as they like to think, they are governed also by “sentiment” – only, unlike Christians, they can’t actually say why that “sentiment” has any validity, let alone authority to override what “reason” tells them.

The Chesterton quotation I had thought of posting was: “”The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

@144 Huw

“That exchange between Wells and Chesterton is fascinating. Thank you for posting that.

The reference to Wells I had earlier thought of posting on this thread was that his scientific rationalism led him to embrace, at least for some years, some rather dreadful ideas.In his ‘experiment in prophecy’ “Anticipations”, published in 1901, he wrote:”

I am glad that you like the quote Huw, it makes me cry everytime I quote it. That was very awkward when lecturing! True HG had some wierd ideas early in the 19thC – or I should say weird to us now. They were written at a time when all sorts of new philosophical ideas were being ‘tried out’ due to the findings of those like Darwin and Galton. The Fabian society – whilst not espousing eugenics were discussing them. Marie Stopes – it is argued – was championing birth control not only for the sake of women’s health – but for a form of eugenics which would ensure that birth defects [this included wearing spectacles!!] and poverty were eradicated!! Wells’ views changed – which I think you can gather from the quoted exchange between Wells and Chesterton later in the century. The trouble is with Wells that he ‘trialed’ a lot of his thinking in print, to the glee of his critics who later published unreliable biographies years after he died. [A brilliant biography of him, sadly now out of print, was written by Michael Foot in the 1990s. Elizannie sighs here, two of her heroes together!]

I love your Chesterton quote [yes another hero of mine!]

I keep saying that that this is my last word on this thread, but I couldn’t resist answering your comment. I have expanded my comment @143 on my blog:
http://rephidimstreet.blogspot.com/2011/08/blessed-are-peacemakers.html
HG does get a mention in other blogs in the archive!

146. Huw Spanner

@142 Bob, why “shouldn’t it be too difficult”? I don’t mean to imply a conflict between science and religion (because I don’t believe there is one), but how would you react if you heard some sceptic demanding, scornfully, that a physicist explain to him in a few sentences why the theory of special relativity must be true – let alone how, if Einstein was right, scientists and engineers are still regularly referring to Newton?

I was going to say that it would be very hard to find anyone at all except ultra-Orthodox Jews who tries to live according to Deuteronomy 22, but when I looked it up I found that it is a very odd ragbag of rules, some of which seem very humane and way ahead of their time. Deuteronomy was compiled maybe only a hundred years after the Iliad was written down, but (like much of the Iliad) its prescriptions may be a lot older. To assess its moral vision, you’d have to find out what was generally considered right and proper at the time. Moral understanding, much like scientific understanding, seems to take centuries to develop.

The obvious difference between (almost all) Christians and, say, ultra-Orthodox Jews and Muslims is that the former believe that God’s revelation has been progressive, over many centuries, and that earlier revelations have to be understood in the light of later ones – most of all, the teachings of Jesus and his disciples. Jesus’ observation that the whole of “the Law and the Prophets” could be summed up in the so-called Golden Rule dictates how Christians (try to) work out what the moral principles that underlie the Mosaic law are.

Of course it’s easy to sneer and point out that stoning a young woman to death at her father’s door doesn’t sound much like “doing as you would be done by” and I doubt that there is a Christian in the world who wouldn’t agree. Obviously, “doing as you would be done by” involves having a tolerant, reasonable, educated, egalitarian society with a modern police force and justice system and a common value system (deeply influenced, as it happens, by the teachings of Jesus); but unfortunately nothing like those conditions existed 2,700 years ago, when “doing as you would be done by” seems to have involved choosing the least dreadful and socially destructive of a range of available options that would *all* have appalled us today.

That would be my (not very expert) stab at it. I don’t know if that helps.

147. Just Visiting

Bob B

Good advice has been given to you by others here – I won’t duplicate it.

But I will pass you a tip from Wikipedia – if you want a meaningful debate about religion on LC (or indeed a debate about anything, online)

Wiki define a thing called OR – Original Research. And their rules ban it. On Wiki you must always quote a reputable source for any statement.

In particular on Wiki – you can’t quote from a holy Book and then say ‘this means religion X is evil/good’. You need to quote a reputable source from that religion, who themselves say that.

So regards Christianity -taking the Wiki line you should stop looking in isolation at verses from the bible – and instead, search Google for reputable Christians who use those verses to advocate something – to see what christians today make of those verses.

In the case of women wearing trousers -you’ll find pretty much no mainstream churches today saying women shouldn’t- which tells you that most mainstream churches don’t interpret that verses as being ‘legally binding’ today.

@143: Elizannie

“No one person wrote the Bible”

True enough but in this case I’m genuinely puzzled as to why we should accept as binding the authority of one verse in Deuteronomy 22 but not other verses.

“Please Bob, allow that others may have a different view of religion to you but don’t trash their views.”

I’m not “trashing” their views – just subjecting their ideologies to the sort of analytical scrutiny which ought to routinely apply to any ideology IMO.

The absence of rational responses to specific questions about Biblical authority suggests logical incoherence. But I claim no pioneering endeavour in this. As with many issues, I defer to David Hume and to an illustrious line of agnostics.

“H.G. Wells a fervent atheist”

HG Wells was an unspeakably horrible man IMO who advocated eugenics.

149. Huw Spanner

@148 Bob, I don’t know why you are ignoring me, as I was trying to be helpful and was perfectly civil.

I have tried to explain that no one expects you to “accept as binding the authority” of any verse in Deuteronomy. No one except this ?Nigerian woman and her church have to answer for their (unusual) beliefs – but even she was not asking anyone else to comply with her interpretation of that verse, she was asking only for the freedom to comply with it herself.

However, as I explained above, most Christians interpret earlier things in (what they regard as) God’s revelation in the light of later things, and try to discern the direction in which that unfolding revelation is pointing.

Googling for explanations of that one verse in Deuteronomy 22, I happened across this: http://bit.ly/qeLGSl I’ve no idea who this guy is (and his blog seems a bit muddled to me), but he seems to share my suspicion, expressed above, that this verse is to do with deliberately pervy pagan sex-magic rituals. (Interesting to see that it was this verse that was used to condemn Joan of Arc, incidentally – a shameful coincidence of unscrupulous religion and politics…)

Probably the reason that this verse is unknown to most Christians is that very few Christians nowadays face any temptation to indulge in pervy pagan sex-magic rituals. Jesus himself seemed much more exercised about the dangers of hypocrisy and financial greed – which still are very real today, not least for the churches.

@148 Bob B

“HG Wells was an unspeakably horrible man IMO who advocated eugenics.”

Once again Bob you are just proving that you will take any part of a text to try and prove your point. You obviously did not read or consider everything I said agout HGW and neither do you know a lot about him. Actually I do and your are quite wrong. At one time in his life it was something that he and other contemporary thinkers – writers, philosophers erc – discussed and fortunately desisted from. I suggest if you want to know more you read an awful lot more.

I actually really don’t feel it is worth debating with you when you so obviously display an unwillingness to really accept that any one else who has a different view to you may have a good reason to hold that view.

151. Just Visiting

Sunny

This thread has exposed your bigotry.

It demands a response from you.

Have you the steel to do what you wish newspapers to do : to give equal prominence to the corrections they print?
Will you start a new topic – and apologise there?

The facts are so plain against you Sunny.
The employee you were so quick to condemn – is the innocent party. The Hospital management you supported is the guilty, illiberal party. After a period of bullying , they did climb down and stop insisting that trouser suits are the only clothes permitted.

152. Just Visiting

Oh Sunny

The over-riding bigotry you exposed, was your anti-christian one.

As you have form on that on LC – whereas you haven’t got a track record here of saying minorities should wear what the majority decide, nor of defending bullying management against victimised employees.

153. Chaise Guevara

I think we don’t have enough info from the OP to know whether or not this woman was in the right. IMO: if the hospital had always required trousers, and she decided to kick up a fuss after deciding they were against her religion, she’s in the wrong. If the hospital suddenly decided to require trousers because they like the look of them or whatever, she’s in the right. If they decided to require trousers based on relevant information, such as a recent discovery finding they were less likely to spread infection than skirts, then it’s tricky… perhaps the hospital should offer her another role or generous severance pay.

I normally disagree with Just Visiting when this issue comes up, but this time I have to admit that the tone of the OP is very different to previous articles about Muslims wanting to wear religious clothing.

154. Chaise Guevara

@ 150

“Once again Bob you are just proving that you will take any part of a text to try and prove your point. You obviously did not read or consider everything I said agout HGW and neither do you know a lot about him. Actually I do and your are quite wrong”

Hang on… there seem to be quite a lot of quotes around from HGW that support eugenics, some of which seem to suggest that genocide would be an acceptable way to achieve it. Admittedly this was at a time when a lot of people honestly believed that white people were superior as a scientific fact, but that doesn’t entirely give him a free pass.

@150: “I actually really don’t feel it is worth debating with you when you so obviously display an unwillingness to really accept that any one else who has a different view to you may have a good reason to hold that view.”

I can’t admit to feeling devastated at that prospect. I believe in debating robustly and I’ve been doing it even before I went to uni more than half a century ago – you’ve still not explained why we have to accept the scriptural authority of one verse in Deuteronomy 22 but not others.

If you dig a little, more than a few folk regarded HGW as a horrible little man for a variety of reasons, including the way he treated women and the many he supposed were his intellectual inferiors, hence his belief in the benefits of eugenics.

He went to the Soviet Union in the late 1930s, along with GBS and Sydney Webb, to meet Stalin and came back an admirer – see the report in Alan Bullock: Hitler and Stalin. Stalin was an even greater mass murderer than Hitler and the Nazis – which tells us a lot about Wells’s capacity for making judgements about politics and people. But you have every right to your preferences.

156. Just Visiting

Chaise 153

Thanks for agreeing – despite us often being sparring partners here on LC!

Sunny really does have to answer regarding his anti-Christian bigotry.

> I think we don’t have enough info from the OP to know whether or not this woman was in the right. IMO

But we do – whatever reason the management (privately or publicly) used to force her to wear trousers at the start – they backed down; which suggests that they didn’t start with a logical, defendable position at all.

> if the hospital had always required trousers

If they did, it was not based on science or logic – as they changed tack.

> If they decided to require trousers based on relevant information, such as a recent discovery finding they were less likely to spread infection than skirts, then it’s tricky…

That was not the case – as they would not have backed down, but stuck to the science of the recent discovery.

157. Chaise Guevara

@ 156

All good points, JV.

Regarding Sunny: I wouldn’t go so far as to call his attitude bigoted, it’s more biased. Because a lot of conservatives routinely defend Christians and criticise Muslims, he (and loads of others) tends to go the other way. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with his opinion of either religion, it’s more how they fit into the liberal/conservative debate. So yeah, you do end up with LC sometimes looking a bit like the Daily Mail, only in reverse.

@ 154 Chaise Guevara
“Hang on… there seem to be quite a lot of quotes around from HGW that support eugenics, some of which seem to suggest that genocide would be an acceptable way to achieve it. Admittedly this was at a time when a lot of people honestly believed that white people were superior as a scientific fact, but that doesn’t entirely give him a free pass.”

Actually that was part of my [earlier] point to Bob B that HGW did ‘discuss’ in some of his books in the early 20thC theories of Eugenics, which was a discussion point with many intellectuals at that time. What I was trying to point out to him, and which even in his last comment in reply to me is that HG moved on from this position as the century wore on. As indeed he changed his mind/worked through other stances/views, as indeed many do. F’r instance [again like many others] when WW1 began he was pro-War, by the end of the war he had more pacifistic views and was one of the supporters of the fledgling League of Nations.

Bob B has quoted other critics of HG to me, suggesting that he knows more about the writer than I do, but then again it depends what and where he has studied. F’r instance the Wikipedia page H.G.Wells is badly flawed and one day when I have time I will perhaps go in and correct it!

@155 Bob B
“I can’t admit to feeling devastated at that prospect. I believe in debating robustly and I’ve been doing it even before I went to uni more than half a century ago – you’ve still not explained why we have to accept the scriptural authority of one verse in Deuteronomy 22 but not others.”

Yes I like a robust debate but since I don’t accept that verse as authority any more than you do, but I respect that the lady in question did and mentioned at her job interview that she wouldn’t wear trousers for work, that is all that is necessary for me in the discussion. My ‘brand’ of Christianity lets me wear what I like, luckily for me I suppose!

“If you dig a little, more than a few folk regarded HGW as a horrible little man for a variety of reasons, including the way he treated women and the many he supposed were his intellectual inferiors, hence his belief in the benefits of eugenics.”

Well, I have been studying, writing on and teaching H.G for a long, long time – certainly reading him before I went to uni and I have been retired for a while now so lets not trade years. I have I think every auto- and biography written on him and over the years have built up a picture of him that I can live with, warts and all. He had some very unappealing sides to him and views which I do not agree with but others which I admire. He was a very clever, but very annoying man. What more can I say?

“He went to the Soviet Union in the late 1930s, along with GBS and Sydney Webb, to meet Stalin and came back an admirer – see the report in Alan Bullock: Hitler and Stalin. Stalin was an even greater mass murderer than Hitler and the Nazis – which tells us a lot about Wells’s capacity for making judgements about politics and people. But you have every right to your preferences.”

Thank you. But if you read a little bit more about HG’s view on Stalin they did change, and don’t forget his last mistress was Moura Budberg who is uspected of being a double agent to Russia and Britain so he was privy to a lot of what was going on. As one of my favourite comedy characters would say ‘What fun!’ Moura was half g.g.aunt to Nick Clegg – the only interesting thing I know about the latter!

Warning: to anyone using the Wikipedia page on H.G it is seriously flawed and if anyone is really interested in him youknowwho.co.uk has some s/h copies of Michael Foot’s biog of H.G.

Hiya! Awesome blog! I happen to be a daily visitor to your site (somewhat more like addict ) of this website. Just wanted to say I appreciate your blogs and am looking forward for more to come!


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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Christian midwife: sues hospital, says trousers are against my religion http://bit.ly/nTi2rS

  2. EdH

    I thought this was a joke at first RT @libcon: Christian midwife: sues hospital, says trousers are against my religion http://bit.ly/nTi2rS

  3. Jimmy Richards

    RT @libcon: Christian midwife: sues hospital, says trousers are against my religion http://t.co/jVmYXoz

  4. Aaron Chandra

    Christian midwife: sues hospital, says trousers are against my religion http://bit.ly/nTi2rS

  5. sunny hundal

    Christian midwife sues hospital, says trousers are against her religion http://bit.ly/nTi2rS << but who is funding this?

  6. Craig

    RT @sunny_hundal: Christian midwife sues hospital, says trousers are against her religion http://bit.ly/nTi2rS << but who is funding this?

  7. Abortion Rights

    Ah, the Christian Legal Centre – anti-abortion and anti-trousers. All the big issues. http://t.co/vqbykdk via @libcon

  8. Gemma Tumelty

    Ah, the Christian Legal Centre – anti-abortion and anti-trousers. All the big issues. http://t.co/vqbykdk via @libcon

  9. Andy Saul

    Christian midwife sues hospital, says trousers are against her religion http://bit.ly/nTi2rS << but who is funding this?

  10. nicky clark

    Christian midwife sues hospital, says trousers are against her religion http://bit.ly/nTi2rS << but who is funding this?

  11. Ma

    Christian midwife sues hospital, says trousers are against her religion http://bit.ly/nTi2rS << but who is funding this?

  12. Percolate Magazine

    Ah, the Christian Legal Centre – anti-abortion and anti-trousers. All the big issues. http://t.co/vqbykdk via @libcon

  13. Michael Bater

    Christian midwife sues hospital, says trousers against her religion | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/QUo6T1x via @libcon

  14. Rachel Danae Stalker

    For the avoidance of doubt…trousers are against my body shape :-S http://t.co/XDecEYy (via @sunny_hundal)

  15. Zena West

    Ah, the Christian Legal Centre – anti-abortion and anti-trousers. All the big issues. http://t.co/vqbykdk via @libcon

  16. elizabeth veldon

    another bit of christian bollocks http://t.co/W2jR01u with thanks to @libcon #fb

  17. neil lambert

    Christian midwife sues hospital, says trousers are against her religion http://bit.ly/nTi2rS << but who is funding this?

  18. Mark Trewavas

    Christian midwife: sues hospital, says trousers are against my religion http://bit.ly/nTi2rS

  19. Kate & Andy Blundell

    Christian midwife sues hospital, says trousers against her religion | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/Blq9KOP via @libcon

  20. Faye Savage

    Christian midwife sues hospital, says trousers are against her religion http://bit.ly/nTi2rS << but who is funding this?

  21. Christian midwife sues hospital, says trousers against her … | christian families network

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  22. David Gregory

    Christian midwife sues hospital, says trousers against her religion | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/lKep5Yt via @libcon

  23. neil lambert

    RT @libcon: Christian midwife sues hospital, says trousers against her religion http://t.co/V9kgTwc

  24. sunny hundal

    Remember the case of Christian mid-wife suing hospital because wearing trousers was 'aganist her religion'? http://bit.ly/nTi2rS Thrown out.

  25. David Burling

    Remember the case of Christian mid-wife suing hospital because wearing trousers was 'aganist her religion'? http://bit.ly/nTi2rS Thrown out.

  26. Sadaf Qureshi

    Remember the case of Christian mid-wife suing hospital because wearing trousers was 'aganist her religion'? http://bit.ly/nTi2rS Thrown out.

  27. Dr*T

    Remember the case of Christian mid-wife suing hospital because wearing trousers was 'aganist her religion'? http://bit.ly/nTi2rS Thrown out.

  28. Daniel Selwood

    RT @sunny_hundal Case of Christian mid-wife suing hospital because wearing trousers was against her religion http://t.co/t0uPafA Thrown out

  29. Chris Paul

    Remember the case of Christian mid-wife suing hospital because wearing trousers was 'aganist her religion'? http://bit.ly/nTi2rS Thrown out.

  30. Stew Wilson

    Remember the case of Christian mid-wife suing hospital because wearing trousers was 'aganist her religion'? http://bit.ly/nTi2rS Thrown out.

  31. Andy S

    Remember the case of Christian mid-wife suing hospital because wearing trousers was 'aganist her religion'? http://bit.ly/nTi2rS Thrown out.

  32. Paul Wood

    Remember the case of Christian mid-wife suing hospital because wearing trousers was 'aganist her religion'? http://bit.ly/nTi2rS Thrown out.

  33. Politics & Religion « "we carry death out of the village"

    […] H/T […]

  34. Molly

    Remember the case of Christian mid-wife suing hospital because wearing trousers was 'aganist her religion'? http://bit.ly/nTi2rS Thrown out.





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