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Doctor sacked for emailing prayer loses court battle

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A Christian doctor who was sacked for emailing a prayer to his colleagues has lost his clam for unfair dismissal, after an Employment Tribunal ruled that there was “no need” for religious references to be made at work.   

Dr David Drew (aged 64) took legal action against Walsall Manor Hospital after he was dismissed for e-mailing a motivational prayer by St Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, to his department, stating that his colleagues had made him feel like a “religious maniac” for circulating the message.


However, Employment Judge David Kearsley ruled that the hospital had not acted unlawfully in sacking Dr Drew because discussions about religion should be avoided if considered “inappropriate.”

He said: “There is no need for such assertions in professional communication nor was there a need to make religious references if they are considered inappropriate and if they hinder proper communication.”


Dr Drew maintained that he had sent the email, which contained Biblical references, as a personal inspiration to his “efforts to serve”his “patients, their families and our department”.

However, some colleagues reacted by raising complaints that the message was “strange”, “bizarre and inappropriate”, stating that Dr Drew was forcing his religion on other members of staff.

One employee also complained about a text message that Dr Drew had sent wishing him “a peaceful Christmas”.

An independent investigation subsequently conducted into Dr Drew's behaviour, ordered him to “refrain from using religious references in his professional communications, verbal or written”.

Dr Drew rejected the recommendations and was subsequently dismissed after refusing to accept a “bribe” from hospital bosses to leave quietly.

His British Medical Association representative, Ian McKivett, said that he repeatedly asked the trust for evidence of inappropriate religious references but was not given any apart from the prayer and the text message.

Dr Drew said: “The allegation that I have forced my religion onto other people, that I am some kind of religious maniac, was made worse by the fact that they told me there was no need to understand what this is all about.

“If the trust wanted me to behave in a different way they should give me some explanation. Little did I know that this email would cause me so much difficulty and ultimately result in my dismissal.”

In relation to the tribunal’s ruling, Dr Drew said yesterday:“This means that you cannot be yourself in the workplace, you cannot say 'I am a Christian.

“Other people who have got other religions won't be allowed to either but of course what religion other people are because it is more visible.”


Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, commented:

“This is like the shutting down of identity. This approach to Christians is like forcing them to deny their identity – being Christian isn't something which you take off when you go to work.

"To say that it is not appropriate to say that you are a Christian at work is to totally misunderstand our history, our heritage, freedom under the law, freedom of religion, it is deeply illiberal, it is wrong.”


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Christian Concern: Religious Freedom