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Since when did ‘peaceful Christmas’ become an aggressive act?

Secular hostility to religion has even spread to our language

By on Thursday, 5 April 2012

Columnist Jenny McCartney has drawn attention to the alarming case of Dr David Drew, formerly senior paediatric consultant at Walsall Manor Hospital, who was sacked from his position in December 2010 for “gross misconduct and insubordination.” What had he done to deserve this description? A practising Christian, he had emailed the prayer of St Ignatius Loyola (“To give and not to count the cost…” etc) to his staff as an incentive, sent a text message to a colleague wishing him “a peaceful Christmas” and – perhaps at the root of his sacking – he had, since 2008, raised serious questions about how the hospital’s paediatric department was run.

It takes a lot of courage to criticise your colleagues and the department where you work. Generally no-one will thank you for drawing attention to aspects of care that reflect badly on them. At the tribunal to deal with Dr Drew’s case it was made clear that his skill as a doctor was never at fault; indeed he received a number of commendations from grateful parents whose children he had treated. What concerned Walsall Healthcare was that apparently his presence had created a “toxic environment” that affected the whole department where he worked, while his Christmas greeting was regarded “as aggressive and unwelcome intrusions” into the recipient’s “private time”.

Since when has “a peaceful Christmas” become an “aggressive” act? As Jenny McCartney comments, “If we were really compelled to purge our conversation of religious references most of us would be surprised at how often we transgressed.” Greeting a colleague with “Merry Christmas” would be worse than merely a “peaceful” one; I have been told its original meaning was “a Christmas with Mary” – the very last thing that secularists and feminists would ever wish to contemplate. You also have to be careful with “A happy Christmas”; it used to have the meaning of “a blessed Christmas”. “Good-bye” should be avoided at all costs, as it is a contraction of “God be with you”. Never say “Gosh!” It is derived from “God”. Never “touch wood”; often invoked superstitiously, it refers to the wood of the Cross – and so on.

I would reinstate Dr Drew and send the people at Walsall Manor Hospital for a “de-tox” session themselves.

A happy Easter to all readers! (Secularists might substitute “jovial” for “happy” as it refers to Jove, a pagan deity.)

  • ms Catholic state

    We should all send our local Health authorities Christmas cards at Christmas, with a nice prayer on them.  And to our Government and local authorities too.

  • teigitur

    This country is so screwed.

  • South Saxon

    And ++Vin maintains that Christians in Britain are not persecuted?

  • Jefferson

    I am afraid that Mrs Phillips has repeated several distortions.  In fact, it was not Dr Drew’s Christian beliefs that caused his dismissal.  Sue James, head of Derby’s hospitals, made it clear that it was his persistent and frivolous complaints raised against his co-workers that caused the relationship to deteriorate.  She said that “for two years [so well before the Christian prayer] we had a relationship that was not working.”  She also said of Dr Drew’s religious terms “there was never any suggestion that this was an improper thing to do,” and that they were “highly marginal.” The problem was that he sent very long, verbose emails to hundreds of people.  An independent review board then drew up a list of recommendations for both Dr Drew and the hospital, in order to repair the relationship.  These would be followed up by mutual apologies, and the hospital agreed.  However, Dr Drew rejected them.  Ms James said:  
    “Dr Drew’s lack of insight into how his behaviour was affecting the whole department was the highest risk going forward. I invited him to a meeting and he said he would not meet without me accepting his pre-conditions. It was producing a toxic environment in which the whole department was sinking. I was a manager at the end of my tether.”   This has very little to do with secularization and more to do with a healthy working relationship and effective healthcare provision. 

    Happy Easter,  Merry Christmas and Jovial Lupercalia

  • CathedralMan

    This is the level of journalism one would expect in the tabloids, where facts are not permitted to derail a good story. Did you research the whole story before writing this, Francis, and then just cherrypick the aspects of the story and distort them to suit your persecution complex?

    Your story is a distortion of the truth. I hope you will apologise to those maligned by your cheap journalism.

  • John Byrne

    Francis Phillips herself writes: ” …and – perhaps at the root of his sacking – he had, since 2008, raised serious questions about how the hospital’s paediatric department was run.”

    Here she seems to state what she actually believes is the true reason for this man’s sacking.

    Yet she continues her tabloid rant that the sacking is an attack on Christianity. This seems to me to be yet another deliberate attempt to stoke-up anger and resentment in the Catholic and wider Christian community, on patently false grounds.

  • maryp

    Excellent piece Francis. The world in which we live becomes more and more unbelievable. Lord have mercy on us.

  • Oconnord

    Hoping for a job with The Telegraph perhaps. 

  • AndyFrankophile

    I agree with the criticism of the article for tabloid type journalism but it is also surely improper to fight the issues around the removal of this doctor in public.  It is enough to deny the veracity of the whole article and indeed inform your lawyer without making accusations in puiblic against a doctor.