An employee at a Christian ‘homeless’ charity, whose Patron is the Archbishop of Canterbury, has been suspended for answering questions about his faith to a colleague at work.
David Booker, aged 44, a Christian from Southampton, has worked for the English Churches Housing Group for almost four years .On 26 March, whilst working an evening shift, he had a 35 minute conversation with female colleague Fiona Vardy. Ms Vardy asked him about his faith and beliefs. During the conversation he was asked the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and same-sex marriages, which Mr Booker explained. The conversation was free-flowing and Mr Booker clearly explained that he had homosexual friends and that he was not homophobic.
The following day he was summoned by his employers and told that he was
suspended for “events that happened last night”. On March 30, he was given a
formal suspension notice alleging that: “ On 26 March 09, whilst on shift with
Fiona Vardy, you seriously breached ECHG’s (English churches House group) Code
of conduct by promoting your religious views which contained discriminatory
comments regarding a person’s sexual orientation.”
Threatened with the sack for ‘gross misconduct’ under the charity’s Culture and
Diversity Code of Conduct, Mr Booker has sought the advice of the Christian
Legal Centre (CLC), who in turn have instructed Paul Diamond, the leading
human rights lawyer to represent him.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and director of CLC said: “Mr Booker has
been suspended since 27 March for two weeks pending investigation. No date has
been set for the investigation and disciplinary hearing. This case shows that
in today’s politically correct, increasingly secularized society, even
consenting reasonable discussion on religion between two employees is being
twisted by employers to discriminate and silence the Christian voice and
freedom of expression.
“To date, the English Churches Housing Group is funded largely by churches
throughout Hampshire, who we are sure will be shocked at the attitude and
action taken by a Christian organisation towards a Christian employee. The
Archbishop of Canterbury, as Patron, has confirmed the Church’s teaching on
marriage, same-sex relationships and homosexuality and that is in the public
domain. We are interested to know whether his Patronage is now under threat
under the charity’s Culture and Diversity Code of Conduct?”.
ECHG (English Churches House Group) has recently been taken over by Society of
St James ( a charity providing homes for the homeless).