U.K.'s Losses of Religious Freedom Should Warn U.S.

Dr. Jerry Newcombe

U.K.'s Losses of Religious Freedom Should Warn U.S.

There's something rotten in the state of England, and I hope it’s not a picture of what is to come here in America.

It’s a serious loss of religious freedom for Christians, even to the point where there’s a serious loss of freedom of speech.

The latest incident was a complaint filed against a medical doctor, Richard Scott, with a 28-year unblemished track record.

After a long consultation with a 24-year-old patient who was discouraged and “in a rut,” the doctor asked if he had ever considered turning his problems over to Jesus.

In an article titled, “Prescribing Jesus Gets Doctor Censured,” The London Sunday Times quotes the doctor: “I only discussed mutual faith after obtaining the patient’s permission. In our conversation I said that, personally, I had found having faith in Jesus helped me and could help the patient. At no time did the patient indicate that they were offended, or that they wanted to stop the discussion. If that had been the case, I would have immediately ended the conversation.”

But later, when the patient’s mother asked how it went, the young man reportedly answered, “He just said I need Jesus.”

The mother made an official complaint, and now Dr. Scott is in trouble.

An irony of this case is that Dr. Scott is part of a consortium of six doctors, and their center is explicitly religious. Even its name, Bethesda, is derived from the Bible. So patients know this up front.

Furthermore, the patient continues to seek treatment there, despite his mother’s grievance against the physician.

Dr. Scott has decided to fight this complaint, because if he doesn’t, he fears some little off-hand comment in the future might get him fired. He recognizes this as part of an ongoing trend in favor of political correctness and against traditional religion.

I was in England two years ago and was shocked by what I learned in some of the interviews I conducted with leading attorneys fighting for religious rights in that country.

Although Anglicanism is the State Church of England, it is as if Atheism is the real state church.

I met with one London man who lost his job as a homeless counselor when he mentioned faith briefly with a woman who had severe health issues that were dominating her life.

I learned of two Christian teenage girls who got in trouble in their school just outside of London for not bowing down and worshiping Allah during a public assembly, although their school was the equivalent of a public school here.

Then there is the part-time teacher in Devon, who sent a private email from her computer at home to her friends at church requesting prayer because her five-year-old daughter got in trouble for talking about religion with friends at school. Somehow the private email request ended up in the hands of the head teacher, who was using it to punish the mother.

In England, I spent some time with Andrea Minichiello Williams and with Paul Diamond. Both are attorneys (well, barristers), and the two co-founded the Christian Legal Centre to fight this kind of anti-Christian bigotry. In fact, it looks like the medical doctor’s attorney will be Paul Diamond in this case.

Diamond especially hates to see the way the legal system has begun to single out Christians for discrimination. He told me, “I’ve been doing these cases for twenty years, and people used to have great respect for Christians. When I went to court, if I had a Sunday-working case or a Christian minister case, the judge was totally respectful.”

Now, he said the legal environment is hostile to a traditionally-minded believer. Diamond told me just this week in an email: “The Christian faith is seen as sectarian. In a recent case, the Human Rights Commission described Christianity as akin to an infection and the judges raised no objection to this argument. Christianity is seen as sectarian, homophobic, anti-women. I go into court now and the judges will be very hostile to the Christian.”

Andrea Williams warns, “America, do not wait until you have a nurse who is suspended because she offered prayer to a patient. Do not wait for the teacher who is suspended because of his views on same-sex marriage. America, do not wait for a situation when foster parents are unable to foster because they hold orthodox views on Christian marriage.” 

Andrea also notes, “What is happening here in the United Kingdom is a picture of what could happen in the United States. And that’s why it’s very vital that you look to us and look to the stories that we’ve got going on here and see that these things could come true there.”

Both Diamond and Williams warn that what happens on that side of the pond often works its way over here, if we’re not careful. That’s bad medicine we’re not quite ready for, nor should we be.

Dr. Jerry Newcombe is the senior producer and host of The Coral Ridge Hour. He has also written or co-written 21 books, including The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation. Jerry co-wrote (with Dr. Peter Lillback) the bestselling, George Washington's Sacred Fire. 

Publication date: June 6, 2011