A London council that bans staff from saying “God bless” at work has sacked a Christian employee for discussing his faith.
Duke Amachree, a homelessness prevention officer, was initially suspended for suggesting that a terminally ill woman look to God for help.
After investigating the incident his employer, Wandsworth Council in London, has decided to dismiss him from his job.
His solicitor, Michael Phillips, says during an investigation meeting Mr Amachree was told it is inappropriate to ever talk about God in the workplace and that he could be disciplined even if he said “God bless” to clients.
Mr Phillips said: “On 17 March, Mr Amachree’s employers told him that ‘God had to be kept out of the workplace’. He was accused of crossing boundaries. The issue of religion, according to the interviewer, should not be raised in a housing issue.
“I, on behalf of Mr Amachree, queried this statement by asking if ‘God bless’ would be an appropriate comment. He was told that it would not be appropriate and that any complaint would again lead to an investigation.”
But Wandsworth Council has accused Mr Phillips of taking remarks made in the meeting out of context.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “We are supporting Mr Amachree in this case because it is absurd and unjust to think that any public body could be in a position to enforce a policy which means that you can’t even say ‘God Bless’.
“This would effectively mean that faith would become entirely privatised. A Christian cannot leave faith out of any aspect of his or her life including work.”
Earlier this year, commenting after a spate of cases involving Christians being punished at work, the Archbishop of York said: “There is no more urgent time than now to break down the compartmentalised thinking that separates trust in God from the world of work.”
In an article for the Daily Mail he wrote: “Asking someone to leave their belief in God at the door of their workplace is akin to asking them to remove their skin colour before coming into the office. Faith in God is not an add-on or optional extra.”
He continued: “Those who display intolerance and ignorance, and 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”.