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Charity suspends worker


ARCHBISHOP’S HOMELESS CHARITY SUSPENDS CHRISTIAN FOR ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS FAITH TO COLLEAGUE AT WORK April 11th, 2009 Posted in News | Comments Off

AN employee at a Christian ‘homeless’ charity, whose Patron is the Archbishop of Canterbury, has been suspended for answering questions about his faith to a colleague at work.

David Booker, aged 44, a Christian from Southampton, has worked for the English Churches Housing Group for almost four years .On 26 March, whilst working an evening shift, he had a 35 minute conversation with female colleague Fiona Vardy. Ms Vardy asked him about his faith and beliefs. During the conversation he was asked the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and same-sex marriages, which Mr Booker explained. The conversation was free-flowing and Mr Booker clearly explained that he had homosexual friends and that he was not homophobic.

The following day he was summoned by his employers and told that he was suspended for “events that happened last night”. On March 30, the he was given a formal suspension notice alleging that: “ On 26 March 09, whilst on shift with Fiona Vardy, you seriously breached ECHG’s (English churches House group) Code of conduct by promoting your religious views which contained discriminatory comments regarding a person’s sexual orientation.”

Threatened with the sack for ‘gross misconduct’ under the charity’s Culture and Diversity Code of Conduct, Mr Booker has sought the advice of the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), who in turn have instructed Paul Diamond, the leading human rights lawyer to represent him.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and director of CLC said: “Mr Booker has been suspended since 27 March for two weeks pending investigation. No date has been set for the investigation and disciplinary hearing. This case shows that in today’s politically correct, increasingly secularized society, even consenting reasonable discussion on religion between two employees is being twisted by employers to discriminate and silence the Christian voice and freedom of expression.

“To date, the English Churches Housing Group is funded largely by churches throughout Hampshire, who we are sure will be shocked at the attitude and action taken by a Christian organisation towards a Christian employee. The Archbishop of Canterbury, as Patron, has confirmed the Church’s teaching on marriage, same-sex relationships and homosexuality and that is in the public domain. We are interested to know whether his Patronage is now under threat under the charity’s Culture and Diversity Code of Conduct?”. ECHG (English Churches House Group) has recently been taken over by Society of St James ( a charity providing homes for the homeless).

For further information: Andrea Minichiello Williams (CLC): 0207 4675427, 0771 2591164