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Christian paranoia runs rampant

By Terry Sanderson

The growing paranoia of evangelical Christians seems to know no bounds, and the rather mild challenges to religious privileges from the NSS seem to bring their persecution complexes right to the fore.

Our question last month about who should pay for hospital chaplains — the churches or the NHS — has now been transmogrified on Christian websites into “the National Secular Society called for NHS patients to be denied access to publicly-funded chaplains in hospitals”.

Better than that, my debate on Premier Christian Radio last month with Andrea Williams, the head of Christian Concern for our Nation, has now made me into a latter-day Stalin. All I questioned was the increasing intrusion of religion into the workplace, and yet on one website  this has become: “The way it works in the UK is like this: if you are a nurse, and you offer to pray for a patient, you’re suspended. Period. The offendedness of thin-skinned atheists cancels out the liberties of Christians. Listening to the atheist Terry Sanderson is like listening to Stalin. American Christians will be shocked to find how atheism leads naturally to fascism. Listen to him for yourself!”

So there you have it. The NSS President is a communist-fascist dictator determined to persecute and destroy any nurse with a religious belief. Or, as Melanie Phillips wrote in the Spectator  “like all conspiracy theories, this one is characterised by irrationality, distortion and hysteria.” (In fact she was seeing the argument from the other direction, trying to convince us that Intelligent Design has merit and that there is a “secular inquisition” against it).

The Daily Telegraph’s religion correspondent, Martin Beckford, tells his readers that there is now a “crusade against Christianity” in the public sector and that the NSS (“the usual suspects” as he calls us) are calling for “a complete end to the place of religion in public life”. These extremists who keep hyping up stories of supposed Christian persecution by leaving out the inconvenient parts of the story (like the fact that Nadia Eweida, the BA cross woman, was condemned by an Employment Tribunal for being a nightmare employee, who had no respect for her colleagues and who would happily bring complaints and disciplinary action against them without thought for the consequences and without heed of the facts.)

These paranoid Christians are going all out to create unease among their fellow believers by repeated exaggeration and occasionally outright lies (remember the full-page adverts in the Times and Parliamentary magazine, sponsored by some ad hoc, but incredibly well-funded, evangelical group, criticising gay people for wanting equality? Following an NSS campaign, it was eventually condemned by the Advertising watchdog for dishonesty.) It seems they cannot make a reasonable case based on the facts, so have come to rely on half-truths and misleading presentation.

How do I know this? Because when they are brought before the courts and tribunals, and the full facts are examined, each and every one of them has been thrown out.

Meanwhile, the Pope has written that atheism has led to “the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice” and that’s because of “the intrinsic falsity of the claim”. Perhaps his holiness has omitted to read David Ranan’s book Double Cross: Code of the Catholic Church (available from the NSS shop) which would fill him in on the vile history of the institution of which he is the current leader.