In England last week a General Practitioner (family doctor) was censured by the General Medical Council (GMC) for discussing the role of Christian faith in recuperating from illness.

The Telegraph reported (emphases mine):

Dr Richard Scott, a family GP with 28 years’ experience, is facing disciplinary action and fears he could lose his job after he discussed his faith in Jesus with a patient last year.

The 50-year-old is being investigated by the General Medical Council but Christian doctors rallied to his defence and criticised the way that the professional standards regulator had handled the case.

In 2010, Dr Scott, who works at Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, a practice known for its Christian partners, saw a patient at the request of the patient’s mother. He maintains that he only discussed how his faith in Jesus had helped him at the end of the consultation, and with the patient’s consent.

But the GMC wrote to Dr Scott, warning him that he had distressed the patient and risked bringing the profession into disrepute. He has appointed a human rights lawyer to fight the reprimand.

Faithful Christians will instantly recognise that the name the practice has — Bethesda [sometimes ‘Bethsaida’] — is mentioned in the New Testament, specifically, John 5:1-17:

2Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8Jesus said to him,  “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

I said ‘faithful Christians’ above, because they are the most likely to read the Bible in its entirety.  Today, because of the three-year Lectionary, most people aged 35 and younger will not have encountered this story because, for some reason, it is not included as a passage to be read on Sundays or feast days.  Expect to see it, therefore, in an upcoming Forbidden Bible Verses post. (These aren’t banned verses as much as they are, inexplicably, excluded from public worship.)

The painting above, which you can click on to enlarge at, was painted by Carl Heinrich Bloch in 1883.  You can see another of Bloch’s many religious paintings here.

Now back to the story.  One of Dr Scott’s supporters is:

Dr Peter Saunders, chief executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, which has 4,000 members including about 2,000 GPs, criticised the GMC.

He said the “clear implication” of the GMC guidelines was that a doctor should be allowed to express his personal beliefs in a way that is “appropriate and sensitive”.

“It does seem to me that the GMC have overreacted by censuring him,” he said.

“All good doctors try to treat their patients as whole persons, not just biochemical machines. That does sometimes include spiritual matters, dealing with questions of meaning and purpose.”

The paper also featured an editorial on the story, fully supporting Dr Scott:

Dr Scott fears that the GMC’s action may eventually lead to his being struck off.

Had he withheld orthodox medical treatment, offering only prayer and the possibility of miracles, Dr Scott might have been a menace to his many non-believing patients (and probably to those who shared his beliefs as well). But that is not what he was doing. All he did was to share his conviction that a commitment to the Christian religion could be one element that contributed to a recovery from illness. If the patients objected, or made it clear that they did not like the turn of the conversation, he dropped the topic. Nevertheless, the mother of one of those with whom he raised it complained. Indeed, she was perfectly entitled to do so – but we cannot see how her complaint can be grounds for the GMC to take action against Dr Scott. After all, no one maintains that he ever forced religion on anyone, or that his faith ever impeded his ability to dispense medical care.

What, then, is the fuss about? The GMC’s excessive reaction is part of a tendency: a number of institutions and companies have, in a misguided attempt to be “multicultural”, banned Christian symbols and overt expressions of faith, something that would never be attempted in the case of other religions. And yet the Christian faith is central to our country’s history and our traditions. Its legacy is visible everywhere. It is right that today, no one expects a person who holds positions of power and responsibility to be a practising Christian. But we appear to be heading towards an alarming situation in which the profession of faith becomes an active disqualification.

The Telegraph opened this editorial to readers’ comments.  On page 2 of the oldest comments, a Margate resident, Aston Walker, wrote in to say that not only was there a clue in the name of the medical practice — Bethesda — but:

The notice is in the waiting area and all the partners are Christians.

I live and work in Margate. The Bethesda is where my family are registered.
Have people forgotten that we are a Christian country, which allows freedom of speech.

I support Dr Scott and what the Bethesda do and offer.

Reader kbo1 rightly points out the Christian origins of European hospitals, dating back to the Middle Ages if not before.  kbo1 adds:

It’s a worrying Stalinist trend, where you can be denounced and fired from your job for not subscribing to the prevailing orthodoxy (in this case atheism).

In closing, many of us will no doubt agree with what responsible has to say:

It is part of Labour’s legacy of socialist soviet totalitarian thought control to promote State rules that benefit the vested interests of people in State funded bodies, above individual freedoms.  The GMC are a medical body with no place in religious matters … 

It reflects the multi-culti, moral equivalance, PC State control and socialist dogma to increase tax and State borrowing to fund State interference in all aspects of life and State dependency.  All funded by huge loans taken by Labour to be repaid by others who do not vote now. 

The values of freedom, equality and fair non-violent rule of law are disappearingThose values were hard won by lives freely given in war against tyrants and dictators.  They are values the civilised West enjoys, and people in other countries now realise are denied them

Sadly, we have not yet reached the point where Westerners are conscious of losing these hard-won rights and liberties.  The West is more than a pool of taxpayers’ money waiting to be raided by all and sundry.  But how many of our fellow citizens steeped in today’s bread and circuses — takeaways and televisual entertainment — are aware of what we are in danger of losing before the decade is out?

My prayers go to Dr Scott in his appeal against the GMC’s reprimand and for the continued success of the Bethesda practice.