An Update on a post from September 2012…

The following post is an update on the story of four Christians who took their discrimination cases to the European court of human rights. I first blogged about it back in September last year. For background on the story, read the original news story of which I wrote. I promised to blog again once the verdict had been announced, so here goes…

The verdict of the judges was that they only found in favour of one of the cases, and for me it was somewhat odd. Two of the stories, regarding wearing crosses, were similar. Why find in favour of one, and not the other? My reasoning for not taking these cases that seriously, is that for me, wearing a cross is not a central part of how I choose to express my faith, and that’s just it, it isn’t a requirement it’s personal choice and can therefore be removed if necessary. I have other reasons for thinking this way, which you can read previous post.

As for the other two cases, I have just finished reading a press release from The Evangelical Alliance in which they chose to concentrate on their reaction to, what for them was the most significant case, that of Lilian Leasdale, a registrar who asked not to officiate at st her case same-sex ceremonies as it went against her beliefs. I believe I judged her case too harshly at the time, and in large part agree with what the Evangelical Alliance said, in terms of the courts needing to understand better what 24:7 lived out Christian faith looks like and how it interacts with society. However, this too is different for every individual,  and to my mind is therefore a minefield for the courts. Relying on what they think Christian faith looks like or should look like however, isn’t good enough, a balance needs to be found.

The Evangelical Alliance also acknowledge the difficulty of judging in such cases in a way that does not prejudice either side. I get all of that, but still feel this will give those who support the judges ruling more opportunity to speak against the position of the likes of the Evangelical Alliance, potentially doing more harm than good, as was my opinion  at the time. I am unsure what the way forward is for those, including myself  whose faith permeates every aspect of their lives, or should do, at least. How do we honour, and hold to what we believe, obeying God’s word, the Bible, and God himself, while being careful not to antagonise others unnecessarily or to sound as though the needle on the record is stuck? Reaching out in love would certainly be a start. I will certainly be praying for the four Christians whose cases were decided today, that they will clearly know what do next, and react in a way that brings the honour and the glory to God, which is what the Church, God’s people, should be doing anyway.

A profession for the future?

I don’t always make time to read a newspaper, but since I bought a kindle, I’ve got used to reading the kindle version of The Independent. A couple of  opinions on how best to shore up social work for the future have really got me thinking. I’m sure some people have will have heard of Teach first? Now the idea is being applied to social work. I have mixed feelings about the sustainability of such a program, however surely things cannot get much worse, so it has to be worth a go! Josh MacAlister rightly says, social work “does not have to be one of Britain’s least appealing careers”. Neither however, do careers in the care profession! I just wonder if this concept were applied to ‘caring roles’ if it would revolutionize the profession, or whether even that may not be enough. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How do we take ailing professions and turn things around for the better? The Independent’s editorial is favour of MacAlister’s approach. I would encourage you to read it, and vote! 


Back to Social work. I hardly need explain why change is necessary as mistakes make within the profession have been well documented. The most vulnerable youngsters have been let down time and again, just like the young man MacAlister writes about. It’s a great idea… the best candidates, the best training. and straight into leadership/management. Heaven knows the most difficult professions are where the best manages are needed, and starting with children, where the most impact can be made seems like common sense. I really do hope this program achieves all it sets out to do and can be sustained for the future. It can’t come a moment too soon.

GPs must treat foreigners under new guidelines | Mail Online

I first saw the following headline as I passed the Newspaper display in my local supermarket, and halted my chair in shock! The following is from the Daily Mail, on the 13/10/12. Click the following link to read the article: GPs must treat foreigners under new guidelines | Mail Online.

I have no doubt we will hear much story in the coming days, from every possible angle. However, as someone with a long-term illness and a long-term disability, I am astounded that such a decision could be reached while leaving common sense at the door. For m, this one is the latest in a list of CRAZY decisions about the NHS… and we have to take action while we can. Id love to know what you all think of this decision.

‘New door has opened’ with robotic exoskeleton – Channel 4 News




Paying a premium to feel ‘normal’

I’d like to encourage you to follow the link below to the video and article by Sophie Morgan, one of the presenters of Channel 4’s paralympics coverage, as she trials something called an exoskeleton. It’s incredibly moving, as you might expect, but also shows both what can be achieved through technology and also what it’s limitations are. It highlights the limitations of most ‘specialist technology, such as prohibitive cost.


New door has opened’ with robotic exoskeleton – Channel 4 News.


However, the freedom that this robot provides raises interesting questions, as for people with an aquired disability it gives people something of what they had lost, albeit primitive, until the technology develops. One of the dangers of this type of technology is that is reinforces current stereotypes, that to walk is normal, and to wheel is an inadequate alternative only suffered by those who have no other choice. This is something which Morgan herself alludes to.


what has happened, in effect, is that a new door has opened to a world where, despite my disability, I can still have the freedom of standing and moving, but that the condition I have adapted to doesn’t need to change.


This approach highlights the potential problem, as standing and walking equate to freedom, despite Morgan being “comfortable” with being in a wheelchair. The potential dander then is, that to be in a chair effectively means your body is in a prison, or at least that to use wheels is the poor cousin to walking, and therefore being independent, and ‘normal’, although it is interesting that Morgan denies some of this.


The final quote from Morgan immediately brings more than one Bible passage to mind. (Apologies to those who consider me to be bible-bashing!) Morgan says that perhaps one day “ill [sic] be jogging down Brighton beach with an exoskeleton robot under my trousers and my wheelchair in the skip!!” The truth is of course, that for those who turn to Jesus, one day we really will be jogging, and our wheelchairs will be in the skip. We will have a freedom far beyond what any robot can provide, however ‘advanced’ it is. That said, this is an interesting development which I look forward to following.




BBC News – Paralympics 2012: Is it OK to call the athletes brave?

BBC News – Paralympics 2012: Is it OK to call the athletes brave?.

Was the BBC brave, or stupid, to cover this?

What a minefield. The only people who care about this are people who won’t like whatever language you chose to use. Most disabled people, as far as I’m aware are either confused by the debate on language, or non-plussed by it. If you asked a focus group of disabled people of varying ages and disabilities which words and phrases they least liked, I bet every single person would have different answers.


While we’re on the subject, I’ve heard various bodies on channel 4 use every one of the phrases they were apparently supposed to avoid. I’ve also heard Ade Adepetan go out of his way to ask what someone “suffers from” and he’s a disabled person himself! That’s part of why this is such a minefield. I notice also that it’s Damon Rose of Ouch who has written the article. One wonders why he bothered, now ‘Ouch’ is reduced to a miniscule presence on the BBC news team. Once upon a time, this article would have been the subject of one of his editorials and  would have been discussed with relish, by a whole stream of disabled people of varying ages and backgrounds on the now defunct BBC message boards. As it is, the article will disappear with barely a whimper, and whose fault is that?!

Never mind the politics, what about the language?

As for the language of the article itself, like I say, I’ve heard channel 4  commentators use every one of those phrases on the list of words best avoided, repeatedly. One wonders whether they ever read the document. I doubt they care, they’ll just be happy to have snatched the Paralympics coverage from the jaws of the once smug BBC.

It’s wrong to call the athletes ‘brave’, ‘inspirational’ ‘suffers from’, ‘sufferrer’, ‘victim of’, ‘normal/abnormal’. Firstly, who decides what is normal or abnormal? it’s all relative depending on your own experience. What is normal for me as a disabled person will be abnormal to someone else. Things like falling being as natural as breathing, is true for me, but completely abnormal for someone else. To say ‘suffers from,’ ‘sufferer’ or ‘victim of’ makes us sound passive, like vegetables as if we have no life. We are not sufferers or victims, we are people who are living our lives in ways that are ‘normal’ for us, against the backdrop of the pigeon holes the Government, the DWP, the media and medical records try to squeeze us into.

BBC News – Pakistan blasphemy case: Imam held over ‘Koran plot’

BBC News – Pakistan blasphemy case: Imam held over ‘Koran plot’.


We prayed for Rimsha  in “prayer and share time on Sunday, and I have been praying for her since. I urge you to pray for her too. I heard an interview on UCB UK this morning with someone from Open Doors suggesting that they hope this young woman may be the tool God uses to overturn, or at least make this law more safe. Please God, may this be true. All I have thought of all day is the verse from 1 Corinthians 1:

27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

May she be freed and returned to her family with no further harm done to her.

For more on this story see:

Lord Jesus, please hear our cries as we ‘stand in the gap’ on behalf of this young woman. May be know your presence and may you take away her fear and give her peace. Thank you for her faith, and we pray you will send angels to protect her and watch over her. May she be freed imminently with no further harm done to her. In your name Jesus, Amen


BBC News – Christians take ‘beliefs’ fight to European Court of Human Rights

BBC News – Christians take ‘beliefs’ fight to European Court of Human Rights.


I wait with interest to see what happens in the case of these four Christians. I thank the BBC for covering it. I am not sure whether it is really a ‘watershed’ moment. For me, too many of those have passed without comment for this to be that important. However, I recognize the outcome of this case is likely to have repercussions. I have some reservations about the cases that have been chosen.


I feel, yet again, that we are making issues of the wrong things and all this is likely to do is get people’s backs up. I do not believe the wearing of the symbol of the cross is of central importance for two reasons: 1) What we do with Jesus is far more important 2) we can live in other, more meaningful ways that bring more honour and glory to Christ than the wearing of a symbol around our necks… We ought instead to “take UP our crosses, and follow HIM.


Also I do not believe either Gary McFarlane (relate counselor) or Lilian Ladele (registrar) have valid cases to bring. Around about the time McFarlane’s case was first brought, I was on a counselling skills course at college. I agree wholeheartedly with the opinion of my Muslim tutor, that if he has such objections he should work for a Christian organisation. In working for relate, he has brought the problems upon himself because relate have a policy of not restricting their counselling services, so neither should Mr Macfarlane. 


As for Lilian Ladele, my opinion is similar to that above; she does not have a case to bring in working for the state, and should have changed vocation when the legislation was brought in. This may be far too simplistic a view, but I feel both those cases will do more harm than good, and just look like the church is banging the same old drum, rather than reaching out in love. 


Over to you…