Christian teacher lost her job after being told praying for sick girl ‘was bullying’

By Jonathan Petre
Last updated at 1:08 AM on 20th December 2009

A devout Christian teacher has lost her job after discussing her faith with a mother and her sick child and offering to pray for them.

Olive Jones, a 54-year-old mother of two, who taught maths to children too ill to attend school, was dismissed following a complaint from the girl’s mother. She was visiting the home of the child when she spoke about her belief in miracles and asked whether she could say a prayer, but when the mother indicated they were not believers she did not go ahead.

Mrs Jones was then called in by her managers who, she says, told her that sharing her faith with a child could be deemed to be bullying and informed her that her services were no longer required.

Her dismissal has outraged Christian groups, who say new equality regulations are driving Christianity to the margins of society.

They said the case echoed that of community nurse Caroline Petrie, who was suspended last December after offering to pray for a patient but who was later reinstated after a national outcry.

Coincidentally, Mrs Petrie lives nearby and has been a friend of Mrs Jones for some years. Mrs Jones, whose youngest son is a Royal Marine who has served in Afghanistan, said she was merely trying to offer comfort and encouragement and only later realised her words had caused distress, for which she is apologetic.

The softly spoken teacher, who has more than 20 years’ experience, said she was “˜devastated’ by the decision to end her employment, which she said was “˜completely disproportionate’.

She said she had been made to feel like a “˜criminal’, and claimed that Christians were being persecuted because of “˜political correctness’.

Speaking at her home in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, she said: “˜Teaching was my dream from the age of 16. It is as if 20 years of my work, which I was passionate about, has gone. It is like a grief.

“˜I have been sleeping badly and been in a daze. I haven’t even got around to putting up a Christmas tree or decorations. So much for Christmas cheer.’

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