Wednesday 9 January 2008

The Losing Winner

The problem with winning cases of unfair dismissal is that you are still dismissed. As well as winning this, Elaine Storkey now believes that what started as an atmosphere of bullying became theological. She was the wrong kind of evangelical. She wants to pursue dismissal on the grounds of religious discrimination, which is usually a member of a whole religion being discriminated against, rather than one faction going after another. Can an employment tribunal decide this. She is pursuing the Bishop of Liverpool, but why not use Richard Turnbull's own words?

These are the choice phrases of Richard Turnbull from the video of his lecture to Reform in October 2006:
...we need to be very clear about the importance of our identity as evangelicals.

...our understanding of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ is at the heart of a defining mark of what it means to be an evangelical...

I need [?]also want to warn against the nature of liberalism within our own midst. What I mean by that is this whole idea of what it means to be evangelical being broadened so that it encompasses everybody and everything. If the liberals seek to capture the theological colleges in order to exercise strategic influence, the first step will be to encourage liberal evangelicals to capture the evangelical colleges. And I just want to draw that challenge to your attention and not overlook it and not to think all is well.

It is really important that we understand from the theological colleges that are evangelical - having perhaps been tested against the identity of evangelicalism that I have just set out - that their ethos is understood and set forth.

I actually of all the, of the two plus four of the evangelical theological colleges in the Church of England...
[As a matter of information the two plus four are (Conservative Evangelical) Oak Hill and Wycliffe Hall plus (broadly Evangelical) Ridley Hall Cambridge, Trinity College Bristol, St John's College Nottingham and Cranmer Hall, Durham.]

Is such as this enough for Elaine Storkey's case of religious discrimination? Whatever, she will need some expert witnesses, and show a pattern of dismissals and who has been appointed as supporting evidence. I would suppose that she needs to establish that this distinction between kinds of evangelicals is in the employer's mind, not hers. If it is in her mind, but insufficiently in theirs, or the distinction is in their mind but they did not act upon it systematically, then she cannot claim religious discrimination.

Meanwhile it has been claimed by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (see this Ekklesia report) that she may herself be practising religious discrimination by having employees to Tearfund, of which she is President and the Bishop of Liverpool Vice-President, sign recently redrafted complex statements of belief that the LGCM suggest is a way to get around anti-discrimination laws when it comes to lesbian and gay people. This raises the prospect that should she be successful with her claim against Wycliffe Hall that she may lay herself open for a similar action regarding Tearfund employment; and it raises a parallel concern of association with the grubbiness of treatment handed out to John Reaney at the hands of the Bishop of Hereford, Anthony Priddis.

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