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PETER HITCHENS: Forget burkas – Christianity’s the faith that is really under siege

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PETER HITCHENS: Forget burkas – Christianity’s the faith that is really under siege

A Christian nurse, Sarah Kuteh (pictured), was sacked from an NHS hospital for daring to suggest that a patient she was treating might like to go to church

A Christian nurse, Sarah Kuteh (pictured), was sacked from an NHS hospital for daring to suggest that a patient she was treating might like to go to church

A Christian nurse, Sarah Kuteh (pictured), was sacked from an NHS hospital for daring to suggest that a patient she was treating might like to go to church

How we love fretting about the wrong thing. While the country convulses itself about Islamic face veils, a truly disturbing event, affecting our freedom and our future, goes almost unobserved.

This is the creepy and totalitarian treatment of a Christian nurse, Sarah Kuteh, sacked from an NHS hospital for daring to suggest that a patient she was treating might like to go to church and (horror of horrors) ‘inappropriately gave a Bible to a patient’.

The good news is that Ms Kuteh, whose abilities as a nurse have never once been questioned, has now been allowed back to work by the political commissars who increasingly control our country. But the price of this is a humiliating process of self- criticism, of the sort once usual in communist states. Typically, the whole thing is conducted in a hideous mangled form of English which makes a supermarket checkout robot sound like Shakespeare.

To regain the favour of the commissars, she has had to write a ‘reflective’ screed in which she ‘incorporated your obligations in relation to having clear professional boundaries and not expressing your personal beliefs in an inappropriate way’ and ‘set out the steps you have taken to address the deficiencies highlighted in your practice. You have addressed how you would act differently in the future.’ In other words, she has confessed her thought-crime and promised not to repeat it.

Well, that is modern Britain, a slimy, squelchy totalitarian state in which unemployment, rather than the gulag, is used to threaten people into conformism and force them to keep their deepest, beloved beliefs a personal secret while they are on state premises.

How absurd. Christianity is pretty much the origin of modern nursing. I am glad my beloved Aunt Ena, a nurse of extraordinary courage and devotion, and an exemplary Christian in thought, word and deed, did not live to see this era.

But the cultural revolution has a special loathing for Christianity, perhaps precisely because it was until so recently the idea which ruled all our hearts.

And I doubt the same horrible process would have been imposed on a nurse who suggested her patients attended a mosque, or gave them a copy of the Koran. For while the British State loathes Christianity, it fears Islam. So do lots of other people.

It is this fear that has driven much of the stupid frenzy which followed Alexander ‘Boris’ Johnson’s not especially funny or original remarks about niqabs, burkas and letterboxes.

Here’s a simple point about both these great religions. If you don’t believe in them, and to some extent even if you do, both faiths are a set of political and social opinions, chosen by those who hold them.

Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent, where Sarah Kuteh was sacked after she was accused of failing to respect diversity

Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent, where Sarah Kuteh was sacked after she was accused of failing to respect diversity

Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent, where Sarah Kuteh was sacked after she was accused of failing to respect diversity

People are quite entitled to disagree with and mock them, as they would with any other manifesto and party. I’m against personal rudeness and deliberate offence, such as the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. But I’m all in favour of reasoned criticism, and some humour, and I’m weary of foolish people calling this ‘Islamophobia’ as if it was some sort of disease.

Being critical of Islam is not the same thing as the Judophobia which is such a big issue in the Labour Party. Judophobes dislike Jews for being who they unalterably are, not because of what they happen to think at the moment.

For example, the Nazis murdered the distinguished German Christian theologian and Roman Catholic nun, Edith Stein, because she had Jewish ancestors. They went to some trouble to hunt her down in her Dutch convent and drag her to Auschwitz so they could kill her. That’s a phobia in action.

As it happens, I have quite a lot of sympathy with some bits of Islam. On a visit to Iran I was much impressed by a beautiful and highly intelligent young woman, a schoolteacher, who made out a powerful case for modesty in dress, and clearly had not been forced by her husband (very much her equal) into the night-black robes she wore.

I’ve come across similar views in Turkey and Egypt. Forced veiling is another matter, but I cannot see that state bans or public jeering are going to make much difference to that.

We have Muslim fellow-citizens among us, for good or ill. They are our neighbours. We’re going to have to work out a civilised relationship, in which we can talk frankly to each other. I’ve never found any of them upset by serious argument. Many are saddened by much of what they see around them. So am I. Many wish this country was more Christian. So do I.

One of the supreme achievements of a free civilisation is the ability to disagree without hating your opponent. We need to relearn it.

Watch out for the true menace 

Amid our exaggerated fear and loathing of Russia, we are strangely uninterested in the dangerous despotism of China, which does not just flatten free speech on its own territory, but seeks to do so here.

A notable critic of Peking’s behaviour in Hong Kong, Benedict Rogers, has been the victim of an extraordinary personal attack which must, in my view, have come directly from the Chinese state.

His Surrey neighbours (the entire street) have been sent anonymous letters telling lies about him and denouncing him, trying to soften the impact with fake humour. They include a photograph of him and the words ‘Watch him’. The nameless correspondent has even sent a letter to Mr Rogers’s mother, in rural Dorset (how did they find her?) saying: ‘We, as a Chinese race… care not to be lectured, watched or bullied by your son.’

One man, bullying a superpower? I have also heard of Chinese attempts to put pressure on British student societies which have dared to host critics of their regime. It is not enough to silence dissent at home. They want to do it here, too. Watch them. 

A mission with an alarming twist 

I confess I do quite enjoy the Mission: Impossible films, mainly because the chase scenes provide such wonderful, unexpected views of great and beautiful cities.

I can’t ever really understand what is going on, and it worries me that hardly anyone ever gets time to eat anything. But in the latest, the makers seem to have developed some sort of conscience, in which you can’t sacrifice an individual (even one of your own paid agents) for the greater good.

If this goes on, the baddies are going to start winning. 

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible - Fallout which was released last month 

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible - Fallout which was released last month 

Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible – Fallout which was released last month 

As idiots and greedy lobbyists continue their well-funded, cynical campaign for legal marijuana, the evidence that this would be crazy still mounts. We now have the confession of the Parkland High shooter Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 people at the Florida school last February. And lo, like almost every other rampage killer everywhere from Nice to Arizona for the past several years, he turns out to be a heavy user of marijuana. Don’t listen to the Big Dope Lobby. Just like Big Tobacco, they’re happy for others to die if they get rich. 

I have been banned (I expect for life) from editing the online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia. My sin was to make a joke. This outfit turns out to be run by an anonymous, cut-rate version of the Spanish Inquisition, only without the sense of humour. I’d say it’s reasonably reliable on subjects such as trees and warships. But not about anything controversial. 

If you want to comment on Peter Hitchens click here 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-6050819/PETER-HITCHENS-Forget-burkas-Christianitys-faith-really-siege.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490 Source: MailOnline | Copyright © MailOnline, All Rights Reserved

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