Social work and religion: ‘It is painful to look back on the views I held’

A social work lecturer and a former member of a fundamentalist Christian church talks about how religion impacts on social work

past future
Photo: MichaelJBerlin/Fotolia

by Anonymous

It has been interesting to follow the news of the court’s ruling to uphold the decision of Sheffield University’s Fitness to Practice panel regarding Felix Ngole’s removal from his masters in social work course last year.

This student was removed from his course due to Facebook posts he had made defending an American registrar who was refusing to give gay couples marriage licences. During his Facebook discussions he states he sees homosexuality as a ‘sin’.

Also significant is the fact reports indicate that since the incident he didn’t demonstrate critical reflection or regret about his comments, showing little insight into how LGBTQ+ service users might experience such an attitude.

In the judgment, Judge Rice said: “It was reasonable to expect a student whose career was at stake to have gone further to show that he understood the questions and had some reassuring answers.”

I think this was a good decision by the court.

Ultimately the wellbeing of service users need to be protected and this incident seems a clear breach of Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) standards of conduct. However, the situation has also brought up a number of questions and conflicts for me.

I write as someone who has been a social worker for over 20 years, and is currently a university lecturer.

‘Painful’

I also write as someone who spent my teens and early twenties in a fundamentalist Christian church. Reading about this situation has made me ask the uncomfortable question of whether I could have been in Mr Ngole’s situation if I had grown up in an era of social media.

It is painful to look back on the views I held during that period, and it is particularly difficult to explain them to others. In essence, fundamentalist Christianity is an all-encompassing world view where you are expected to believe the Bible is the true and perfect word of God. The pressure to believe this privately, and to proclaim it publicly, is extremely strong.

I went to a church where this was impressed upon me in the form of weekly sermons outlining the imminent threat of me burning in hell; a much more fearsome prospect than HCPC fitness to practise proceedings.

There were other subtler forms of shaming, peer control and hierarchical (often patriarchal) pressure. These influences are all assisted by a genuine belief in the devil; a convenient figure used to explain away any challenges, particularly those from a secular culture. There is a huge emphasis on keeping up a public defence of Christianity and being a ‘witness’ to its perceived truths.

Reason and persuasion

It doesn’t surprise me at all that Mr Ngole doesn’t seemed to have changed his perceptions during the university hearings, as from his point of view he will be doing the right thing: fighting for his faith, upholding truth in the face of secular attacks.

It is almost impossible to negotiate or reflect with those who hold fundamentalist views as they believe they have access to objective truth.

The kind of reflective processes we use in social work rely on reason and persuasion, and they are unlikely to be effective at changing people’s minds. In my experience it is only the actual deconstruction of the world view, and the loss of the fundamentalist faith in the bible, which will enable enough openness which might make reflection on multiple perspectives a possibility.

I would be interested in whether there was any attempt to engage with Mr Ngole on a theological level. It would be a complex task, but probably a more effective way of challenging him.

Shadows

I am also concerned about how students and social workers who have a religious faith will perceive this judgement. I suspect that a quick reading of what has happened, where some of the nuances around Mr Ngole’s ongoing lack of reflection are not identified, will lead people to conclude that they must keep their religious views very much out of sight in their social work training and subsequent career.

For me, this is a worry. It won’t make people less homophobic, just more secretive about how they express it. Driving it into the shadows might make it even more powerful. In my experience it is listening, the expression of lived experience and authentic dialogue, which are most likely to provoke people to reassess their perspectives.

Disclosing religious faith is quite a thorny issue in social work university departments. As someone who has lived within the Christian subculture I have a good nose for identifying people with a Christian background and I have identified a few such people in my department who also, like myself, keep silent about it. I have specifically chosen to write this article anonymously.

I am worried that my arguments might be misconstrued. I don’t wish to be defined and stereotyped by my past beliefs, and I worry that my LGBTQ+ colleagues might view me differently if they knew my association with Christianity. This would be very understandable, as the damaging nature of the ongoing homophobia from Christian churches cannot be underestimated.

Positives

It is also true that a lot of people are brought to social work because of their Christian faith. I see them all the time in admissions interviews at my university. There is also a cultural issue here, as many of our students are from a West African background, and it is very common for them to have strong Christian beliefs and church communities. These are often candidates with an immense amount to contribute to the profession. We can’t afford to lose them.

One of the contradictions of my own experience is that as well as the very negative input, my Christian background also contributed to some significant positives. The radical teachings of Jesus provoked an early interest and commitment to social justice.

These teachings continue to challenge me. It is also a very common experience, as evidenced by James Fowler’s (1981) Stages of Faith research, which found that people frequently move through a journey of faith, which includes an early stage of certainty, often expressed in fundamentalism, to later stages of agnosticism and possibly renewed, but open-minded, beliefs later in life.

It is likely that many people who have fundamentalist beliefs now might be at a very different stage given the passage of time. This was certainly my experience. Yet I am also aware of the imperative to protect service users in the immediacy.

These are nuanced and complex issues and I hope that this judgement doesn’t silence people from talking about their religious faith. If we are going to challenge homophobia in ourselves and our institutions, we must honestly explore our beliefs and emotions in environments which allow us to make mistakes and are both challenging and supportive to our professional growth.

This blog was written by a social work lecturer.

50 Responses to Social work and religion: ‘It is painful to look back on the views I held’

  1. Sabine November 6, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

    I fully agree with your article/letter/analysis. Thank you for also pointing out that to really change people’s attitude we need to engage with them, not merely sitting in judgement of their beliefs which will lead to more alienation and a feeling of being persecuted in them. That actually would shut the door in the face of an engagement process completely. It will do nothing to help them to want to reflect and subsequently to want to change due to realising that it is the humane thing to do regardless of religion someone is following.

    • Challenging patient November 6, 2017 at 9:23 pm #

      Felix is an adult who wishes to work in a position of authority over some of the most vulnerable people in society.

      It’s not for society to prove anything to him, it’s for him to prove to society he can fulfill that role properly.

    • Jenny November 15, 2017 at 2:29 pm #

      I have been a practising Christian throughout my 33 year social work career and am currently training for lay ministry. I would like non Christian social workers to be aware that there is no a unified Christian opinion of gay relationships and many Christians like myself are fully supportive that these relationships. There is a significant body of Christian theology that gay relationships (and the wider spectrum of consenting adult relationships!) are an expression of love in the way that God intended us to live within his created world.

      1 John 4:16 ‘and are sure that God loves us. God is love. If we keep on loving others, we will stay one in our hearts with God, and he will stay one with us.’

      This is the opened statement in the revised Anglican service or marriage and does not make any qualification regarding gender.

  2. Janet November 6, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    Thank you .I had not thought of this. Well written and very thought provoking.

  3. londonboy November 6, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

    It is a joy to read articles like this thank you. I had the dubious benefit of being on the The (troubling?) Troubled Families Programme and one of the things I noticed was the we ( people in need of services) were all looking for support in bad circumstances and many found it in their faith and their faith group. Services were helping but so was faith and a faith community be it Muslim or Christian. People with faith had hope and that makes all the difference in desperate circumstances.

    Sometimes our reliance on our faith for support is very personal ( Western approach?) and sometimes very public ( say West African approach?).

    Faith groups sometimes give support who no-one else will plus they also keep people in dreadful circumstances from total isolation. A relationship with a personal God gives people strength. Saying that some faith groups may promote a version of strict parenting or ‘black and white’ thinking that can be harmful in some contexts, but as the writer says, when you know the faith you can challenge these in a way someone outside the faith cannot.

  4. Kim November 6, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

    I find this article offensive to say the least about Christian Faith. I have strong Christian Faith and my experience as a Social Worker is very different. The two do not mix. Yet as a strong Christian I believe I work with people in a person centred way, with a non judgemental attitude and whilst utilising great empathy! I believe that every person is unique and only God can judge. But what I do believe very strongly is that He will return and judge us all one day so may I then in Him be found. What keeps me going in this profession that seeks to break me due to the high caseloads, lack of good supervision, and the direction to write up assessments as quickly as possible and close cases is the fact that I know I have 100% made a difference not only to children and young people but their families too! When I stop caring that is when its time to walk away. Do I believe the Bible is true? YES 100%! But I also believe that “there but for the Grace of God go I”. Will I ever compromise my Faith? NEVER! But I recognise that my work is ‘secular’ and act accordingly. I pray for all the children and families that I work with but in private not with them. I personally can tell people that it was GOD who turned my life the right way up and the lives of my family members too. And if managers and lecturers and those who want to be in positions of leadership don’t like this then I don’t really care. I will continue to work with families and children to the best of my ability in a profession that has lost its way and is something nothing more than a paper exercise. And I will also continue to walk in my Faith which is the very essence of me and something I could never and will never renounce!

    • Anna November 6, 2017 at 8:54 pm #

      Thankyou Kim for standing up and speaking on behalf of many!! I agree I find this attitude very offensive. We live in a country that speaks of tolerance, freedom of speech and rights to freely practice faiths – unless you are a Christian! This view demonstrates a growing intolerance of Christianity. I hope people reading this will consider this point too. Social work values and ethics also include promoting equality and diversity and anti-discriminatory anti-oppressive practice. What hope does the profession have if lecturers hold such oppressive attitudes?! I sense a misunderstanding here as the heart of a christian who loves God, as they would not discriminate or mistreat any service users or make judgement on anyone. We are convicted to love and serve one another. Yes I accept there are those who call themselves Christians who may act in the suggested negative way and I can only apologise for their behaviour and poor representation of the church. As statutory funding declines, churches are a much needed and growing part of social and community support. Rather than marginalizing churches, society needs to have an openness to all faiths and a willingness to work together and respecting one another. Christianity has faced attack over the last 2000 years yet continues to grow in strength and number and so despite the negativity and oppressive views such as these we will continue to show God’s love to others and do our jobs!

    • A Man Called Horse November 8, 2017 at 5:08 pm #

      You can be forgiven for believing fairy stories as a child not as an adult. I am always astonished that educated people who have read Darwin and understand evolution hold such views. You should read God is not Great and think again.
      We must move beyond religion and use logic and reason to solve our problems and stop hoping that somehow uncle God will come and save us. It is up to mankind to progress and perhaps as a first step we must ditch all religions. We live in the age of Science and religion just divides us into my God is better than your God camps. Faith has no place in Social Work at least you are right about that.

      • Ruby November 10, 2017 at 8:02 am #

        My question to you is, how can you even think about claiming a monopoly on ‘truth’? Do you not think that an atheist to theist is more qualified to speak and about God than somebody who has never believed in God at all? It is impossible for it to be the other way round because once you come into the knowledge of the existence of God, and you experience Him for yourself, you can never deny it. That’s why Christians emphasis having a ‘relationship’ with God because that’s where the conviction in His existence lies.

        How ignorant are you to believe that Christian people are uneducated people because they believe in God? That shows ignorance, a lack of understanding, and discrimination in itself from your positioning. (But do you actually see that?).

        Science provides a frame of reference in which we understand the natural world, but God, Creator of science, can and often often does operate outside of these parameters. You wouldn’t understand this because your frame of reference is ‘nothingness’.

        You say faith has no place in social work. Actually, social work was built upon Christian principles if you read its history.

        I hope you come into faith one day because it’s only then that you will understand where Felix and many many others like him are coming from.

    • Jack November 8, 2017 at 7:36 pm #

      Well said! We can be guided by our personal faith and share it in our private life but we cannot and should not seek to impose or influence service users around faith issues or seek to “convert“ colleagues. In an atmosphere of acceptance we can and should be prepared to own “who we are” but never pass judgement on others with different views. As one who has spent a lifetime in social work it’s possible to walk a line that can admittedly be sometimes challenging but also one that gets respect from others for being the person I am. Personal integrity and respect for others go hand in hand I think.

  5. Kate November 6, 2017 at 9:15 pm #

    I’m am very disappointed Community Care that you feel this article is a balanced way of discussing and tackling the issue recently brought to our attention. I have always enjoyed reading your research and articles, however I am now left questioning the validity of the content. Do you have a counter article which discusses how religion can enhance Social Work? How about all the many Christian charities who support many services users and social care services – are they not fit to support people? Are they ‘bound’ to be homophobic just because they are Christian? Should we stop using food banks run from churches?
    I am a Christian and guess what I treat people as…human beings! Shock horror! As a Christian I come from a position of love for others, of peace, of wanting to help and support. I should not be expected to be excluded from my career because I choose to be a Christian. I am a professional and I uphold the code of conduct to which I signed up to when I qualified. While I do this then I am fulfilling my job role. Nowhere on my job spec did it say I had to ensure I did not follow a religion.
    This article leads people to feel that we must ‘root out the Christians’ as they may be prone to mistreating service users, are all homophobic, and this could then lead to ‘witch hunts’ and mistrust.
    Community Care this was a definite lapse of judgement in not providing a more balanced article on the subject.

    • Sue November 7, 2017 at 9:32 am #

      This is not what the author is saying. He/She is talking about fundamentalist and high control religious groups. The indoctrination and pressure to act within canonical law and confines as opposed to within civil law and societal norms is immense. It overrides ‘equality for all’. This is clearly not the case for all religious faiths or believers. This is not an attack on religion or social workers who have a faith. It is a real insight into the complexities of mixing fundamentalist ideas and social work ethics.

      • JJ November 10, 2017 at 12:46 am #

        The author is inferring that all fundamentalist Christians cone from an oppressive regime and are against homosexuality which us nonsense and way out if touch if the church today as is the comment on creationism. This isn’t America

    • Bob November 7, 2017 at 6:41 pm #

      You completely missed the point Kate. All the things you felt it encourages, were pointed out as risks when writing such views! But clearly it’s clarified by the writer as NOT discouraging faith and Christianity. You’ve taken this as an attack on Christianity, but it’s a comment on how dangerous fundamentalism is in any religion, particularly Christianity in this case due to the item in the news to which this article refers.

    • Esther November 8, 2017 at 8:25 pm #

      Thank you Kim, Anne, Kate and many others.

      Just to say:

      ‘Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds’.

  6. ANDY November 6, 2017 at 9:59 pm #

    Harbouring homophic views makes people inappropriate to be a Social Worker – it undermines the core principles of anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory practice.

    As for leaving your homophobia at home and it not affecting your work… that is garbage. Would you believe a racist who says they can put their prejudice aside when at work?

    • Jonathan Ritchie November 8, 2017 at 6:54 am #

      Why should I believe that you are capable of setting aside your prejudices at work and not the racist?

  7. Jonathan Ritchie November 7, 2017 at 7:19 am #

    The fact that the author of this article is afraid to use their real name demonstrates that Felix is correct that Christians face discrimination by the social work thought police.

  8. Ryan Wise November 7, 2017 at 7:59 am #

    Kim.. you are totally missing the point of the article. Brilliant article. Well written and much needed; a theme which is prevalent in LAs across the country

  9. Miriam November 7, 2017 at 8:21 am #

    Was very saddened to read your article. But in thruth it is a reflection of the views of a large part of our society today. Churches putting pressures and being homophobic is a very easy but widley accepted misconception of what Christian faith is really about.

    Christianity in particular and faith in general has suffered from much negativity in the past few decades. It seems that there is a silent agreement in social work training and practice that faith it is best not mentioned. This is probably because of a underlying fear of being seen as discriminating against faith groups or the LGBTQ community. It is key that we have inclusivist, accepting and strong non-discriminatory views in our practice but sadly Faith had to be suffer in the face of these views. And this is reflected in our practice. Take for example an assessment or a LAC report – spirituality is reduced to one box. We explore so much of other aspects of people’s lives while our spirituality which is at the core of our beings it is overlooked. It is sadly not widley accepted that faith has the potential to bring about the change and the support that we struggle so much to achieve with our families. Faith can bring the hope, motivation, altruism, support and so much more that our families need. can alter thought processes which in turn will aftect actions and outcomes.
    I was sad but not surprised therefore to read yet another article demeaning faith and particulary Christianity. I do hope this view will change in future.

  10. sabine November 7, 2017 at 10:59 am #

    Kim, I wonder if, according to your way of thinking, I would even be allowed to practice my profession because of being Wiccan. Or would you see me as a risk to man & womankind?

    Generally, Sue sums it up perfectly.

  11. dk November 7, 2017 at 8:48 pm #

    Struck by two themes, as I see them, in the comments.

    One, it is literally impossible to somehow park aspects of your self at home, insulating a professional self from their influence. Any social worker suggesting otherwise concerns me not because they hold faith but because they’re demonstrating a critical lack of reflexivity.

    Second, it is a perverse contortion of both history and current reality to in anyway suggest mainstream Abrahamic religions suffer from exercise of imagined LGBTQ privilege. European society, if not all others, is built upon Christian foundations; public and civil life continues to be shaped by Christian faith and sensibilities. With that comes legacy; regardless of a person of faith’s own individual beliefs and actions, there is no escaping the role of Abrahamic religions, particularly organised Christianity, in millennia of homophobic persecution. This demands of us all acknowledgment, not self-defence.

  12. Tufan De November 7, 2017 at 9:21 pm #

    No place for homophobia or bigots in social work.

    • JJ November 10, 2017 at 12:47 am #

      Including bigots against faith

  13. Laura November 7, 2017 at 9:29 pm #

    Felix’ religious beliefs were not really an issue for the HCPC at all, and people are getting offended for nothing. The first significant thing that Felix did wrong was to make such views known publicly. Acting (which, in this case, was shouting about his views publicly in a way that puts the profession into disrepute) upon prejudice is always a silly and potentially damaging thing to do. The second thing he did wrong, if what the author of this article says is accurate, was to not reflect upon how damaging his view could have been to, in particular, service users who looked him up on Facebook. The risk of damage to his working relationship with service users was very real. Maybe he could have been given a second chance if he hadn’t been so stubborn.

    The problem about Felix harboring homophobic views in the first place is more of an academic problem and exactly what should be done about these sorts of views in Social Work is more nuanced. I know that homosexuality is not morally wrong. Felix’ views are as a result of very flawed thinking, if any thought was put into them at all. However I still think that the more important question if any Social Workers hold such views (whether they be hatred of gay people, women, ethnic minorities, etc.), is whether such views affects practice and the support provided to service users. I know people say that being prejudice “must” affect practice, but I’m not yet convinced. Although it’s not really that comparable, I’ve worked with service-users who I didn’t much like because they were aggressive, looming and maliciously abusive towards their children, but I actively fought against my dislike in order to treat them with respect and to give him the same chance to change that I gave everybody else. I think it might at least be possible for people who dislike certain groups of people to do the same and hopefully working with them will change the practitioners views over time. It is the point at which they start to discriminate and where their views place service users at risk that they need to sanctioned and possibly struck off. Social Workers can practice whatever religion they like, and again it is obvious that the HCPC aren’t trying to attack Christianity or freedom of speech for that matter.
    The absolutely essential thing that Social Workers need to have in order to even begin to meet HCPC professional standards enters into the realm of political philosophy – respect for others’ liberty. This includes their freedom of religion, to respect for their sexuality, gender, ethnicity, political views etc. Social Workers must respect people’s personal liberties and freedom to choose to be and do what they want within reason.

    Ultimately, Felix allowed his views to enter the public world that, first, showed his lack of respect for personal liberty and, second, could have caused service users, particularly gay or lesbian service users, to feel that they were hated by a professional with substantial power over them. Felix’ problem wasn’t that he was Christian, which is obviously a good thing to be if you want to be it, but because he demonstrated complete disregard for the basic personal liberties which he himself enjoys and said it publicly. If he had kept such views private then perhaps this would never have been a problem in practice. But his hateful views surfaced into a public sphere, and could have had a real negative impact. If, as the author suggests, fundamentalists have to shout about views that publicly demonstrate a lack of respect for others’ personal liberties, then they also aren’t fit to represent the state as a professional.

    I think it’s rather sad if the author cannot speak about his religious views at work. Colleagues aren’t the same as service-users, and workplaces should offer places to discuss and challenge each other’s deeply held views – particularly universities! – without fear. Felix didn’t do this. He wrote his prejudices all over Facebook, which is different. If people from the LGBT community feel that the author might dislike him simply because he’s Christian, and if he turns out to be right about it, then they will be guilty of the same sort of prejudice that they are worried the author holds. It’s all better argued about in the safety of work and university and between peers where support to vulnerable people isn’t being affected. I think the author should give his colleagues a chance and set an example by daring to talk about it first

    • Jonathan Ritchie November 10, 2017 at 11:24 am #

      Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the European Convention
      on Human Rights:

      “1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

      2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as
      are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public
      safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights
      and freedoms of others.”

      FREEDOM OF RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION INCLUDES SOCIAL MEDIA!

  14. Kag November 7, 2017 at 10:06 pm #

    They Bible is clear those of the world cannot understand the things of the spirit. Sodom and gomora did exactly what is happening now. However much we explain the world won’t understand. I think the lecturer may have backslid and the spirit of God departed. From him. There is no fundermentalism in Christ but faith and believing.

  15. Ruth November 8, 2017 at 2:14 pm #

    I’m intrigued to hear comments saying that it is impossible to not let personal views influence how Social Workers treat people. There are many choices that people make that I wouldn’t choose for myself. That doesn’t mean we treat the person in a negative way. What does it say about the profession if we could only work with people who think and believe the same as us. It wouldn’t work for any of us would it?

    • Felix Ngole November 15, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

      Absolutely!

  16. The Voice Of Reason November 8, 2017 at 2:38 pm #

    How sad that this forum has descended into an angry argument about the pros and cons of Christianity; and I do mean angry – as can be seen from the aggressive, hostile and extremely defensive nature of some of the comments above. Sad to say, it seems that some topics remain inflammatory.

    WHY can we not all be adults, and accept that some people have religion, and some do not? End of subject! Put simply, some people want religion in their lives and others don’t. And it is NOT acceptable for religious people to go about telling non-religious people that they need to have religion. Nor is it for non-religious people to tell religious people not to believe.

    This is what I loathe so much about any debate in which religion features – the ability of it to immediately polarize people into two feuding camps (religious and non-religious). Personally, I think that what a person wants to believe is their own business, provided it remains so. NOBODY has a right to inflict their beliefs upon another person, insisting that what they believe in is the ONLY thing to believe in, is the only RIGHT thing to believe in, and is thus the “superior” belief.

    If we take religion out of the equation, I’ll bet that many of the people who are arguing with each-other in the comments above would NOT be arguing. Most human beings do not immediately ask what another person’s religion is upon meeting them. If they DO, and if this is then used to make negative judgments of people who are not like them, then really they ought to be asking whether they have become a little closed-minded and judgmental. But, I believe this is not the case – I have met few people in life who have immediately asked my religion upon first meeting me.

    So… why, then should it become such a problem when it is talked about? I believe the problem, here, is what the author of the main article clearly points out. It is NOT religion per-se. It is RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM. There is a clear difference between the two. A person can be religious but not fundamentalist. This is demonstrated by having one’s own beliefs, but keeping an open mind and accepting that other people have different beliefs. It is also demonstrated by not trying to force other people to convert to your own religion.

    By contrast, fundamentalism (in any religion) is dangerous, because it refuses to allow any freedom of thought and it refuses to allow differences in personal beliefs. Instead, fundamentalism is dogmatic in nature. Fundamentalists insist that what they believe is true, and right, and should be the only thing that any person believes. They believe that their God is the correct God, the only God. They refuse to engage in debate about different beliefs, and refuse to accept different faiths. Fundamentalists are eager to convert people to their religion, and do not like sceptics or non-believers. Fundamentalists may be very critical towards, and make nasty comments about, other religions, or non-religious people. They also start wars readily with people from different religious faiths because they insist that their own religion should be the only religion. This is where fundamentalist religion becomes very worrying – because it is strict, rigid and intolerant. The voice of religious fundamentalism seeks to dictate how people should exist.

    Fundamentalism is NOT religious belief, and that is something that EVERYONE reading this article, and EVERYONE making a comment should understand. People who are religious, but still tolerate other people who are of different religions, or who have no religion, are not the problem. The problem is with fundamentalism. If a lonely old lady benefits from going to Bingo at the local Church group, then good for her. If a man fighting cancer finds the strength to endure Chemotherapy by believing in religion, then good for him. Each and every person has their own, very different, ways of coping with life’s problems. Some people may find religion a help, others may not. Freedom of choice is vitally important.

    Fundamentalists seek to eradicate this freedom of choice, and it is for this reason (and reasons given above) that fundamentalist religious belief is so problematic. If we stop to think about it, it is fundamentalists, and not simply religious people, who cause problems. Not all Moslems are members of ISIS or the Taliban, so not all Moslems are terrorists. There are doubtless many Moslems who just want to get on with their own lives, minding their own business, and keeping their religious beliefs to themselves. They are not all Jihadists. The Jihadists are FUNDAMENTALISTS. Why is it that we seem to have forgotten that fact? In the same way, not all Christians are homophobic, or misogynistic. Those who are happen probably to be the fundamentalists. Not all Sikhs are the same. Not all Hindus are the same. Not all Buddhists are the same… Not all atheists are the same. Can’t we just learn to accept that?

    Being “religious” should NOT be seen as an excuse to preach hate, prejudice or stigmatization. That is what makes fundamentalists so different from other religious people. A fundamentalist is somebody like my mother-in-law (who, incidentally, trained as a Nurse) making a comment like “Buddhists will all burn in hell because they haven’t seen the light of Christ”. Yes! She REALLY said that! In front of me, and my husband! A fundamentalist is somebody who believes “Holy War” is “justified” because it eradicates non-believers. A fundamentalist is somebody who uses their so-called belief in religion to hide behind whilst they express unpleasant and often very prejudicial and intolerant views towards other people.

    What fascinates me about fundamentalists is their ignorance. Not just general ignorance, but ignorance of RELIGION. Pardon me… but WHERE in the Bible does it say that Christ hated homosexuals and lesbians? WHERE does Jesus tell his followers to harass and spread hate against the LGBT community? Oddly, I have never found those words! I equally don’t think it says anywhere in the Bible that women are worth less than men, or that women cannot be religious leaders. There are NO words in the Bible telling Christians not to ordain females as clergy. I don’t recall the Bible saying anywhere that it is acceptable to hate people of different races or ethnicities, or to persecute them. So WHY do fundamentalist Christians behave this way? It seems to me that they are just making things up as they go along. And, they are also making things so much harder for good Christians who try to be kind to people, who try to show caring and empathy, and who try to be tolerant and show love towards all fellow humans.

    The same goes for all fundamentalists. They spoil things for religious, and non-religious, people. It is fundamentalists who represent a stereotyped, narrow-minded aspect of religious belief. In respect of Felix, I am inclined to agree with Laura’s comment, above. Service-users come in all shapes and sizes, and you can work with some whom (on a non-professional level) you really don’t like and don’t get on with. However, professionally, you have to try to work with said person and understand that their life is different to yours. I’ve worked with murderers, rapists, fraudsters, arsonists and paedophiles. Do I agree with, or accept, murder, arson, fraud or paedophilia? Absolutely not! Such crimes are abhorrent, and are rightly dealt with via the criminal justice system. However, if you find yourself in a job where you are working with such people, it is pointless and immature to allow your feelings about the crime to prevent you from working with the service-user.

    We must remember that all manner of people exist. Provided a person is not doing something which is against the law, then it is not for anyone else to tell them how to live. People can choose to dress how they like, to have piercings and tattoos, to marry or not marry, to have kids or not have kids, to express their gender and sexuality such as gay or lesbian… It is only when the person contravenes the law that their activity and behaviour should be subject to censorship. By the legal system. So, murderers are to be addressed by the law. Paedophiles should not be permitted to practice paedophilia because it is illegal. Human slavery is not tolerated because it breaks the law. We all understand that laws exist, and thus should understand that we must try not to break them. However, where a person’s behaviour or appearance is in no way breaking the law, then it is better to embrace diversity and show a little tolerance.

  17. SPC November 8, 2017 at 5:14 pm #

    What an interesting article and debate. Very thought provoking and fascinating/disturbing remarks above.

    I am a 100% committed Christian who absolutely does believe that the bible is the word of God (but needs to be interpreted and applied in the 21st Century with wisdom, grace and love), I do believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, the reality of the devil and evil influences in the physical and spiritual realm and all the core believes of the Creed central to Christian faith. I do not at all count myself as a ‘fundamelist’ as some of the above beliefs seem to lead the author of this article to label such Christian believers.

    I am not at all homophobic and absolutely believe in the key central themes of the bible and Christian faith of love, grace, peace, kindness, tolerance, justice, serving the poor and underprivileged, fighting for equality and diversity, respect, caring and all of the fruit of the Holy Spirit listed in the New Testament (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control).

    I also work in Social Care and was a foster carer for 7 years with my primary motivation to work in this field being driven by my love of God and love of people, particularly some of the most vulnerable and poor in spirit/life experiences. I seek to demonstrate the love, grace and goodness of God (without being at all evangelistic unless somebody genuinely wants to ask about my beliefs) to every foster child, foster carer and colleague I work with in the fostering resource without prejudice.

    This does mean parking some of my personal beliefs but several above have dealt with that issue excellently (we all have views and beliefs in social care different to those we work with that we have to park to work effectively with others e.g. disapproving of children being physically beaten by their parent but still working alongside them for contacts, meetings, decisions etc and not judging them or tutting at them).

    Perhaps it’s a little bit of semantics here but there is a dangerous definition of ‘fundamentalist’ Christianity that leads to extremes of bigotry, homophobia, war etc that is linked directly to millions of us sincere and strong Christians, who are far from perfect but want nothing to do with any of the above extremes at all, and do absolutely believe in Jesus as the way, truth and life, the bible being the word of God and can balance that with the primary call of Christianity to love, grace and acceptance of all people from all backgrounds, colours, beliefs, sexualities etc.

    I think I get the heart of the article and what it’s seeking to encourage is more balanced, open and honest discussion about religious beliefs and how it impacts on those working in social care and couldn’t agree more with that. It’s just a shame that a few sentences tarring Christians as fundamentalists who simply believe the core beliefs of sincere Christianity have somewhat side-tracked the intentions of the article.

    • Jack November 8, 2017 at 9:06 pm #

      Very well put!

      • Anna November 9, 2017 at 11:48 pm #

        I agree!

  18. A Man Called Horse November 8, 2017 at 5:22 pm #

    Religion really is the opium of the masses. ( Marx) Read about the crusades and the Catholic Church and the massacres of Muslims in the name of Christianity. The divisions of the 10th 11th Century Muslim & Christianity are here to this very day. Take a long hard look at the world and you must see religion is a divisive thing that divides humanity.
    We must believe in Science, reason and logic anything else is fairy stories. It would be really great if we had a super hero or a god to save us, but we do not. We must save humanity without divine intervention. We can have values and codes of ethics without religion being part of that. You can be sure that should a more superior species ever arrive on this earth from elsewhere in the Universe they will never have heard of Jesus Christ or Allah or the prophet Mohammed.
    The truth is religion is nonsense and increasingly we in the west are discarding it for truth of science.

    • SPC November 9, 2017 at 1:37 pm #

      If any involved in this specific discussion or wider discussions wish to see genuine examples of bigotry, arrogance and discrimination then the statement above from ‘A Man Called Horse’ is a perfect example, disparaging the religious beliefs of billions of people on earth right now as ‘nonsense.’ The statements focus on some of the wrongs committed through history in the name of religion (by genuine fundamentalists of Christianity, Islam and other faiths sadly) but totally conveniently avoids commenting on the billions of lives impacted positively by Christianity and other religions through history and on earth today.
      Most of our laws, principles for living, institutions for health and education, freedom from slavery, billions of transformed lives from patterns of addiction and crime and the list could go on and on and on and on of all the positive impact of sincere loving Christian faith on the world through history.
      Notice though that this doesn’t mean I disparage atheists, Muslims or those of all others faiths and none as being ‘wrong’ or full of ‘nonsense’. I believe in free will and open and honest exchanges of views and I believe in a God who gives and respects our free will so I refuse to look down on or insult others who have different beliefs to me.
      No I’m afraid to speak or write of others with different beliefs about God and life to me in such a categoric way, inferring they are essentially stupid or idiotic to believe such ‘fairy tales’ well that would be the kind of dangerous bigotry and discrimination that is so prevalent in our culture, often by those who would claim to be the most tolerant and politically correct sadly.

    • John G November 9, 2017 at 7:28 pm #

      Dear AMCH – how condescending and patronising. With regards to the view that science and religious faith are mutually exclusive, this point has been challenged not least by leading scientists who also identify as Christian.

      If you work in social work/care how would you treat people who have different view points from you?

  19. londonboy November 9, 2017 at 9:41 am #

    Hmm A man called Horse

    What you are describing are geo-politics – religion is used as a ‘badge’ for wars about property and power.

    It sounds like your faith has been placed in ‘science’ – not sure how that is going to work out!
    Reason is not incompatible with faith.

    SPC is spot on.

    • A Man Called Horse November 15, 2017 at 3:36 pm #

      Reason & Logic are incompatible with faith in my opinion. Religion is the noise surrounding truth. If Science and human ingenuity cannot solve the problems of humanity we are doomed as a species.
      Religion in all its forms served a useful purpose in the dark ages before we had any understanding of our existence and our place in the universe. We now know far more about how we came to exist and the natural forces that brought us into being. We feel comforted by the thought that as mortal beings we will sit by the side of god after our physical deaths. It is natural to look for something to cut our fear of death and faith fills that space. It does not, however, change the known facts, we age, we decay, we die and at this time in history we will perish. Fast forward and perhaps death as we have come to understand it can be banished through science and understanding of the processes that lead to death. We should remember that religion persecuted people who challenged the belief of a flat earth. We now know beyond doubt that the world is not flat, that the earth is not the centre of the universe. In all probability life exists across the universe and that the forces that created it are the same throughout time and space. Religion is a fairy story for people who lack reason and logic.

  20. Eco-social worker November 9, 2017 at 10:14 am #

    Can we reasonably assume that because someone regards something as a ‘sin’, that they will be prejudiced against anyone doing that thing? This seems a large logical jump.

    Depending on your religion, a whole range of everyday actions are sins, including eating meat, working on a religious holiday, not fasting at certain times of the year etc. I don’t think we would assume a Buddhist would be prejudiced against carnivores, or a Calvinist against someone with a Sunday job or a Muslim against someone who doesn’t feast at Ramadan.

    • Another social work lecturer November 9, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

      The problem is that different views on morality aren’t the same as having a different culture, language, sexuality, gender, etc. If I’m gay and someone else is straight, I don’t (inherently) consider myself superior to them. However, if I believe that beating a child is wrong, and someone else beats their child, then I see that person as in the wrong and I’m motivated to take action to stop it happening.
      If you’re indifferent as to someone’s sexuality, then it’s likely that you don’t really consider it a deadly offence that is punished by eternal torture. If however you consider it ‘wrong’ then this inherently affects your judgement when making decisions about that person, eg ‘are they a suitable parent?’

      • Eco-social worker November 10, 2017 at 12:15 pm #

        But you could extend that analogy far beyond religion.

        Most social workers tend to be left wing, so would they be prejudiced against a client who was a member of the Conservative Party? Or would someone like me, a Greenpeace activists, not be able to give a good service to someone who used to be an oil company exec? As Social Workers we should be able to reflect on issues like these, and adjust our practise accordingly to ensure we do give such people a fair and equal service.

        In adult care we provide services to clients who did a whole range of bad things when they were younger. I have two convicted paedophiles on my caseload. I am aware of my feelings towards them, but I endeavour to not let it affect my practise.

        one thing we must never assume, is that we are indifferent to such issues. I’m neither racist nor homophobic, but I am white and straight and grew up in a culture that regards this as ‘normal’. I have prejudices, I am just more aware of them than other people.

        I would hope a Christian Social Worker (or a Jewish Social Worker, or a Muslim Social Worker) who regards homosexuality as a sin, could reflect on this and still evidence they are fit to practise. If they can’t, and only if they can’t, should they be dismissed.

  21. Another social work lecturer November 9, 2017 at 1:28 pm #

    A very timely article.

    The problem is not religion per se, but absolutism. I know some religious people who are open-minded about their worldview and believe in God because they have come to do so from an analysis of the evidence. While I think they have concluded incorrectly based on logical fallacies, I could say the same about everyone, on at least some issues. Likewise, I know some non-religious people who believe utterly in a principle (communism, capitalism, nationalism etc) without any reflection or critical thinking.

    I don’t tell my students to change their beliefs, but I tell all my students that they should be willing to challenge their own beliefs, as a process of development and reflection. Many of my moral and political views have changed over the years through this process. Likewise, my understanding of the world around us has changed as I have been exposed to more evidence.

    It’s not a problem for a social worker to be religious. It *is* a problem for a social worker to be unwilling to consider any challenge to their beliefs (whether religious or not). The problem with some (but not all) faith communities is not that they teach a religion, but that they teach absolutism.

    P.S. the discussion about religion being a ‘private matter’ is disingenuous. If a social worker genuinely believes that being gay is a sin and harmful to a child, then this will affect their judgement whether or not they express it publicly. I disapprove of a lot of things (drinking alcohol and swearing, for example) but I’m open about this and factor it into any decisions I make. It is arguably more useful for people to be honest about their prejudices (we all have them – look up Project Implicit for an eye-opening exercise).

    • Eco-social worker November 13, 2017 at 2:00 pm #

      I agree.

      Although we don’t know all the facts in this case a ‘lack of critical reflection’ was cited as the reason for dismissing this student.

  22. Sally Attwood November 9, 2017 at 10:32 pm #

    I found the original article well written, non dogmatic, reflective and a much needed intervention on these themes. Thank you.
    It is a mark of how important, powerful and influential these issues are that the discussion has almost exploded.
    My personal view is that all of us carry with us our ‘beliefs’ and ‘prejudices’ -whether they have a recognised label such as that of a religion, or class, or race, or nation. In our practice we need to try to be objective, bearing in mind these influences, and to be compassionate as we work alongside people – often vulnerable and marginalised people. For me, this has always been at the heart of my being a social worker.

  23. Ruby November 10, 2017 at 12:41 am #

    I think it’s very important to clarify the position on Christian faith. I am Christian and have been for most of my life. My journey and experience through faith has been an extremely deep and personal one – a revelation on many levels. I can never deny the existence of God.

    For many Christians who come into a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, their desire is simply to live according to the standards in which He has called us to live.

    People generally have a view that we can dictate to God how we want to live, and that He should accept everything about our lifestyles if He really loved us…..but what kind of God would He be if it were really like this?

    What kind of assessment would ours be if a parent had maintained this sort of position and allowed this in their own child rearing? Boundaries are there for a reason (and for safety), and I know it would be a concern if they were completely absent.

    When we embark on a genuine journey with God (not one where you serve God through coercement, fear or duty), it becomes about His transformative power in our lives.

    We give ourselves over to Him in the revelation that He is not only a benevolent God, but One who has standards for how we ought to live.

    Why then has there become an increasing expectation to coerce Christians to accept and subscribe to positions which are in direct contraventions of our understanding and experiences of God and His transformative power in our lives? Is that not a form of Christian colonisation?

    I wonder about the assumptions that people have about how Felix would have practiced as a social worker. Do you not think he could have held this view, whilst being able to remain faithful to the tenets of his beliefs? If you think not, it shows very little understanding of the Christian’s actual position on love and accepting others. Loving someone does not mean we must accept every persons lifestyle.

    We highlight the issue of homosexuality very much, but there are many areas which do not get mentioned when considering the areas of ‘sin’.

    Christians are not perfect and yes, sometimes we do need to point the finger back to ourselves and ask God to help us in areas that are missing the mark. We are not exempt from this process. The difference is that we understand our reasons and motivations to so, and again for many of us, it is nothing to do with fear, coercement or even a sense of duty.

    In drawing this back to Felix, what we are seeing here is an example of what happens when an alternative view is openly incongruence with secular ideologically. It is immediately construed as malevolent and one which needs to be silenced.

    It is extremely sad that Felix has been asked to leave his training because he expressed his view that marriage is between a man and woman.

    It worries me that such a view can no longer expressed without being labelled a bigot or discriminatory, and that such gendered political issues have actually served to silence the growing minority through force, threat and fear.

    • Felix Ngole November 15, 2017 at 3:44 pm #

      Well written Ruby.

    • Eco-social worker November 16, 2017 at 1:12 pm #

      “Loving someone does not mean we must accept every persons lifestyle”

      Fortunately Social Workers are not expected to love their clients, but we are expected to accept their lifestyles. As the article above states “significant is the fact reports indicate that since the incident he didn’t demonstrate critical reflection or regret about his comments, showing little insight into how LGBTQ+ service users might experience such an attitude”, so this is what Felix appeared not to be able to do.

  24. JJ November 10, 2017 at 1:00 am #

    I’m disappointed at the misrepresentation if fundamentalist Christians. Actually its a non term and not used in UK churches and the authors understanding of how Bible believing people and churches operate is flawed. The idea that there is sine kind of thought control and no reflective thinking is silly and insulting as this does not represent any Church I’ve been to . God knows where he went bit Christians are encouraged to have personal views and reflect on the Bible ..few are homophobic now and there us the very acceptance and non judgement we ” preach ” as social workers in Christian circles including all the hundreds of voluntary services run by Churches for homeless ,elderly and so on. Islam is much more fundamentalist in views about homosexuality so its much wider than just Christianity. I agree that we need to be open but I see no conflict at all in my Social Work with the teachings if ,Jesus to serve the vulnerable and take care of those society rejects,just as he did. The author admits that he admires these teachings so the issue is not with Christianity bit the way some groups or churches have organised themselves. That’s an important distinction . I was open about my Christian faith in my training and why not ..? Jesus led the way in Social Justice . its wrong ideas about what Christians believe that is the problem and some who may ,like the author ,have come from what is now unusual , more closed religious background. Oh and we do believe in evolution and dinosaurs !! ( replying to comment on creationism)

  25. CSW November 15, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

    I find this article very interesting, as a Christian social worker, because it highlights very clearly the insidious and hidden bigotry which is prominent in our society today, and particularly within social work. It is very interesting reading all the comments above. Social work is all about being open, accepting other people’s views, respect for the individual, empowerment, finding positives, etc. EXCEPT if you are a Christian. If you do happen to identify as Christian, you are instantly fair game for being subjected to every kind of judgment possible, without any respect at all for your intellect, your individuality or identity, achievements (think Christianity vs Science, as discussed by A Man called Horse) or even your culture (Christianity is a part of people’s culture in many parts of the world, although this is generally not noted). In my experience, other religions which may hold strong views about everything from marriage to homosexuality to the position of women are never subjected to the kind of intense public and academic judgment as Christianity is, and in fact any strongly held beliefs are accepted as being part of someone’s “culture”.

    I do agree that many so-called Christians act very contrary to their beliefs, and worse, express their erroneous beliefs, such as the mother-in-law of “The voice of Reason” above. I do have my beliefs about right and wrong, what the Bible teaches is very clear- but it is also very open to misinterpretation and misrepresentation, which happens only too often. This causes irreparable damage, especially to those who are vulnerable. Theologically, this has happened from the very beginning, as even the first apostles of Jesus made mistakes- yet it is not humans we put our faith in, but God. However, like “The voice of Reason” I do think it is wrong to generalise, especially in social work. Which individual, or group of people, has never made a mistake, or done something wrong in their lives? So who made any human the judge of another? I would ask this question of fellow Christians, but also of anyone else. If you consider individual mistakes as being the basis for hating or disrespecting large groups of people, who could ever have any loyalty to anything? Countries, political parties, services, families, parents? The fact is we are all human, and we all have our own worldviews, backgrounds, life experiences, etc. which all help us build our identity and sense of self (or lack of it). This is one of the most basic principles of social work- it is something we are taught to value and respect as long as it does not conflict with the values of social work, and you do not let your personal beliefs negatively impact on your work. Yet if you happen to be a Christian, you will automatically be subjected to the kind of rhetoric, merely on the basis of your beliefs, which the author of this article, and many others at the highest levels of social work, academia, politics, etc. tend to propagate, and it is considered acceptable.

    Consider three of the statements from the article:

    1. “In essence, fundamentalist Christianity is an all-encompassing world view where you are expected to believe the Bible is the true and perfect word of God” – What does the author mean by “fundamentalist”? They give no definition. Is it fundamentalist because it is a cherished belief? Or because it is a set of principles by which one lives their life? Is it fundamentalist because it holds views that are different from what society (at this point in time) wants us to agree with? Are we now not allowed to believe that the Bible is the true and perfect word of God? Would it be wrong to hold this personal view? Additionally, is anyone of any religious faith wrong to believe in their holy book? Or even those who may identify with other causes- who decides what causes are “okay” to believe in and which ones are not? Possibly the lecturer who wrote the article needs to be consulted before one decides to commit to an “all-encompassing world view”. It is interesting that Community Care (and I know, social work academia) finds this kind of content permissible and even laudable.

    2. “There is a huge emphasis on keeping up a public defence of Christianity and being a ‘witness’ to its perceived truths”- Are those of us who are Christians not allowed to defend what is close to our hearts? Notice that the author says “perceived truths”. Are we not allowed to hold our own views on what we see as the truth of life? Or the meaning/purpose of life? Or the moral, ethical or other principles by which we live? Or simply love Jesus? I wonder how non-judgmental the author’s practice is when dealing with other social workers, or I shudder to think, service users who happen to be Christian. The author of this article does not want Christians to defend their beliefs or “perceived” truths. Does this not conflict with Article 9 of the ECHR, on freedom of religion, as Jonathan Ritchie’s post above mentions? Moreover, what would be the author’s position, and those of some of the people who commented above, when working with, for example, a child in care who is a practising Christian? Would they be denied their access to worship and practice? Or would they need to be talked out of their beliefs?

    3. “In my experience it is only the actual deconstruction of the world view, and the loss of the fundamentalist faith in the bible, which will enable enough openness which might make reflection on multiple perspectives a possibility”- this may have been the author’s own journey, but they clearly are not self aware enough to know that others may not have had the same journey. Whatever was the author’s journey through faith, then away from it, not everyone who identifies as a Christian is on the same journey. Additionally, if the author did hold “fundamentalist” beliefs, whatever that may mean, that reflects what may have been going on in their own life at the time, and THEIR OWN interpretation of Christianity, as well as those with whom they associated – it does not reflect what every Christian believes, and this horrendous, insensitive and disrespectful generalisation should really be completely unacceptable, as it would be if you made a sweeping generalisation of millions of people based on one person’s experience. Additionally, this statement makes it clear that the author sees faith in the Bible and “openness” or “reflection on multiple perspectives” as two incompatible things, which again is very disparaging of all the Christians in the world, past and present, including social workers and service users, since the author considers that no Christian is capable of openness or reflection on multiple perspectives. The author advocates “loss of faith in the Bible” as the panacea- this is the crux of the matter- they do not want anyone to hold a personal belief in Christianity. I would be interested to know whether this is their opinion of religion in general, or only Christianity. The author says “It is almost impossible to negotiate or reflect with those who hold fundamentalist views as they believe they have access to objective truth”. They don’t seem to realise how they themselves fit into this statement. As I mentioned earlier, if the author held fundamentalist views, this was a reflection of where they were in their own life, not that of Christianity which has over a billion adherents- it is interesting that the author seems to have moved from one set of strongly held views, which they link to Christianity, to another set of views which are now blatantly disrespectful and derogatory of Christians. The “fundamentalism” hasn’t been lost- it has just taken a different form.

    Regarding Felix, as a Christian social worker myself, I do think that it would be better not to use social media as the means of posting such comments and I wouldn’t do it myself, even if I wasn’t a social worker and subject to such scrutiny. The hallmark of a Christian should be gentleness, and we do not achieve anything by shoving our views down people’s throats. I can also see the sense in the judgment that was made about his fitness to practice- because while he is entitled to his views, others may not share them, and this can cause conflict with his work- a service user is not a person with whom we can have theological discussions about sin, that is not our role. Even though it was his personal view, it was not in the interests of the profession. However, I can also see that the same principles which were applied to Felix are not applied to others, such as the author of this article, because Christian workers and service users don’t count, as far as our status quo is concerned. So it is perfectly acceptable to rant against Christianity, in the media, public forums, and academia, use its symbols and God disrespectfully in everything from slang to fashion to movies to heavy metal, and verbally strip its believers of their intellect, identity, or achievements on the mere basis of their faith. This doesn’t happen with other religions- quite the opposite, one can only imagine the backlash there would be if other Gods or religious figures were publicly ridiculed as Christian ones are.

    The author does set out some positives, such as Christian beliefs leading to entrance into the profession, and what they call the radical teachings of Jesus. It is good that they at least recognise this, but in the context of the article this comes out merely as an afterthought, designed to give the appearance of balancing out the article. There is no real respect demonstrated for Christians and on a more primitive level, their stories, their faith journeys (which may be very different from the author’s), their lives, and their humanity.

    I have worked in Children’s Services for many years, and so far have nothing but admiration and respect from my colleagues and for them. Yet this doesn’t mean I agree with their lifestyles all the time- that’s part of being human. Christianity is my faith, my world view, Jesus is the foundation of my life, the reason for my being, and my hope for things to come. I do have firm beliefs, based on scripture and theology, about right and wrong, the nature, sacredness and purpose of life, marriage and the family. Yes, dear author, I would gladly debate my beliefs with you, on a theological level- as you wondered if anyone had done with Felix. And yes, dear author of the article, I do believe in the Bible as being the Word of God. I am sorry you think this makes me less open, less intellectual, less of a social worker than you, but I don’t agree and I don’t think my colleagues would.

  26. Mike November 16, 2017 at 9:22 pm #

    The original article is well written and I am very much in agreement with the tone and sensitivity in which the author expresses their views. Thank you,

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