Posted by: the watchmen | February 13, 2009

Bishop backs Christian secretary.

Archbishop speaks in support of primary school receptionist facing sack

The Archbishop of York has spoken out in support of the primary school receptionist facing the sack after she sought spiritual support from her church when her daughter was scolded for talking about Jesus.

By Caroline Gammell and Martin Beckford
Last Updated: 8:27AM GMT 13 Feb 2009

The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has spoken in support of

Dr John Sentamu said it was an “affront to the sensibility” of Christians everywhere that Jennie Cain is being investigated for alleged professional misconduct after she sent a private email to 10 friends asking for prayer.

He said her case, and that of Caroline Petrie, the nurse suspended for offering to pray for an elderly patient, represented a “seeming intolerance and illiberality about faith in God which is being reflected in the higher echelons of our public services”.

As The Daily Telegraph disclosed yesterday, the 38-year-old had been shocked when her five-year-old daughter Jasmine was reprimanded for talking about God and Heaven to a friend in her class.

Her private prayer email was passed to her employer Gary Read, the headmaster of Landscore Primary School in Crediton, Devon, and he launched an investigation.

Although she was not suspended initially, Mr Read told Mrs Cain yesterday to “stay away” from school after her case was reported in this newspaper.

However she has received support from the highest levels of the Church of England.

Dr Sentamu, the second most senior cleric in the Church and its first black archbishop, said: “Asking someone to leave their belief in God at the door of their workplace is akin to asking someone to remove their skin colour before coming into the office.

“Faith in God is not an add on or an optional extra. For me, my trust in God revealed in Jesus Christ is part of my DNA, it is central to who I am and defines me and my place in the world.

“The intolerance and ignorance of those who would relegate the Christian faith to just another disposable lifestyle choice, argue that they operate in pursuit of policies based on the twin aims of ‘diversity and equality’.

“Yet in the minds of those charged with implementing such policies ‘diversity’ apparently means every colour and creed except Christianity, the nominal religion of of the white majority; and ‘equality’ seemingly excludes anyone, black or white, with a Christian belief in God.”

Mike Judge, a spokesman for the Christian Institute, which has pledged to support Mrs Cain at an employment tribunal if she loses her job, said she was being treated dreadfully by the school.

“It is tantamount to suspending her,” he said. “Frankly this is just bullying this poor Christian.

“She had to publicise her case and now she is being penalised for doing that – when is this bullying going to end?”

Mrs Cain, who works part-time at the primary school, said she decided to keep her daughter and son away from school for the day.

“They are at home with me,” she said. “It was my choice to keep them but I decided as I was not going to work today they would have wanted to know why mummy wasn’t there.

“Mr Read rang me and left a message on the answer machine. He said he wanted me to stay away from the school on Thursday.

“I just feel bewildered by the whole thing. All I wanted was to keep the children protected and keep their lives as normal as can be.

“I am worried for them. I am not sure what the new rules are, who you are allowed to be or what you are allowed to say.”

Mrs Cain, who is still waiting to know if she will keep her job, said she had received a large amount of support from her local community.

“I have had so many lovely cards from many friends, people have been ringing me up, neighbours have been coming round – they have just been amazing.”

The school has insisted the Jasmine was threatening an older girl, saying that she would “go to hell” if she didn’t believe in God.

Mr Read said Mrs Cain’s email contained a false allegation about the school but would not discuss it.

Mr Read said he believed the school had responded appropriately to the incident.

“We are a very, very open school and are in no way intimidating people.

“Unfortunately the context of the conversation between the two girls had a religious nature, but it could have been over any issue. When one pupil is upset by another and is crying, we take action.

“In absolutely now way are we trying to supress discussion or making it difficult for pupils to discuss or express faith. The school has had a lot of support from teachers and parents.”

Mr Read said Jasmine had “frightened” a seven-year-old pupil by telling her that she would “go to hell” because she did not believe in God.

He said a complaint had been made which was his duty to investigate.

Mrs Cain denied that her daughter had “frightened” another student by telling her she would go to hell.

She said Jasmine had been discussing God and going to Heaven with a friend, when an older girl joined in and asked “so how do you get into Hell then”.

Mrs Cain claimed her daughter then replied: “By not believing in Jesus,” but added she never mentioned the words herself.

She added: “She is only five – she has a childlike faith.”

The Christian Institute said Christians had believed in Heaven and Hell for 2,000 years.

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