A British nurse named Sarah Kuteh was fired from the hospital where she had worked for nearly a decade because she spoke with patients about her faith, passed out Bibles, and sang hymns on the job. Last month, a UK court rejected Kuteh’s most recent appeal.
“The Respondent employer did not have a blanket ban on religious speech at the workplace,” according to the court of appeals ruling. “What was considered to be inappropriate was for the Claimant [Kuteh] to initiate discussions about religion and for her to disobey a lawful instruction given to her by management.”
Kuteh is the latest in a string of cases of Christian medical workers in the UK who faced punishment for sharing their faith at work. Her lawyers at the Christian Legal Centre are considering further action as questions continue to come up around the appropriate place for religious expression in healthcare—particularly when a sizable number of patients indicate they welcome spiritual care from their providers.
The uproar around Kuteh initially broke in June 2016, when a cancer patient complained about what he characterized as her “very bizarre” behavior. The patient said Kuteh “told him that the only way he could get to the Lord was through Jesus,” and that she would give him a Bible if he didn’t have one.
Court documents also allege that Kuteh, a Pentecostal Christian, encouraged the patient to sing along as she sang Psalm 23 and that she held his hand tightly as she prayed an “intense” prayer that went “on and on.” On a hospital form, the patient had checked “open-minded” when asked about his religious beliefs. But in describing Kuteh’s actions to the court, he likened her evangelism to a Monty Python skit.
Little more than two months after the incident, adjudicators had concluded that Kuteh’s conduct violated Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) rules, and she was fired for gross misconduct. Despite Kuteh’s initial pushback, an employment tribunal upheld her dismissal, though she was allowed to practice nursing again after a year of restrictions.
In subsequent proceedings, it was discovered that Kuteh had a pattern of sharing her faith bedside. On other occasions, a patient said she “spent more time talking about religion than doing the assessment,” reportedThe Telegraph. She was accused of “preaching” by another patient.
Ultimately, Kuteh objected that the employment tribunal had “failed to consider the correct interpretation of the NMC Code and the distinction between appropriate and inappropriate expressions of religious beliefs.” She also claimed that the European Convention on Human Rights permitted her conduct, drawing a distinction between “true evangelism and improper proselytism.”
Last month’s ruling has, for now, put an end to Kuteh’s case, but the ramifications are ongoing. According to CBN News, some have praised Kuteh’s methods.
“Many Ghanaian Christians have a habit of talking about Jesus all the time, even though in the UK it is seen to be culturally inappropriate,” said Graham Miller, the CEO of London City Mission. “Praise the Lord for Sarah’s compassionate heart and courage!”
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Source: Christianity Today