Postal workers refused to deliver CD’s of Bible readings after deciding they were ‘offensive material’. Several churches had paid for discs with recordings of Mark’s Gospel to be produced to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. They were due to be delivered to all households on the Channel Island of Jersey, but church leaders were stunned when they were told postal workers would not handle the 45,000 CD’s.
Jersey Post said there were guidelines about mass material that is sent out across the island and that religious recordings could offend people but apologised for the incident, saying staff had misinterpreted the guidelines. Chief Executive Kevin Keen said, ‘I understand that one of my colleagues did say the material was offensive. This decision was made on the basis of our terms and conditions which states that we have the right to refuse to distribute something that falls under the category of promotional material which could cause offence’.
‘Clearly this was interpreted in the wrong way. I have spoken to the person involved and have written to all of my colleagues asking that they come to me if there is any doubt in their mind in the future’.
Doctors fear their private lives and personal beliefs will soon come under increasing scrutiny from regulators, as a Christian GP who prayed with a patient faces a formal hearing. The General Medical Council is asking medics if it should ‘regulate doctors’ lives outside medicine’, in a review of its guidelines on ethics. Currently it would only be a disciplinary matter if behaviour after hours affected a doctor’s work or brought the profession into disrepute, or if they imposed their views on others. Some respondents to an online consultation have already said they would be unhappy if health professionals ‘supported racist organisations’ or those that ‘promote conflict’, or ‘advocated religious fundamentalism’. Others argue that doctors must ‘moderate what they disclose online’ in order to avoid making personal information public or breaching patient confidentiality. But critics say that GP’s and consultants are only human, and should not be expected to lead blameless lives.
In addition, it has been claimed that what they get up to when they are not at work does not affect the care they provide to patients. Bob Bury, a recently retired radiologist in Leeds, wrote in a blog post: ‘For what it’s worth, I’m an atheist and yield to no one in my disregard for religious fundamentalists of any stripe, but my GP’s beliefs are no concern of mine unless they have a negative impact on the quality of treatment I am offered, in which case sanctions already exist to deal with the problem’.
The GMC is to investigate the case of a GP in Margate, Dr Richard Scott, who is accused of upsetting a patient by offering to pray for them. The GP says their conversation turned to religion after they had finished discussing medical options, and that he asked permission to raise his Christian beliefs with the patient, who is of another faith. But the GMC sent him a warning letter, claiming his comments had ‘distressed’ the patient and ‘did not meet with the standards required of a doctor’.
Lebanon’s majestic cedar trees, famously used in the building of Solomon’s Temple, 1 Kgs. 5. 6, have survived thousands of years of human use and exploitation. Now the precious few cedar forests that remain face a new challenge, climate change. According to Nizar Hani, manager of Shouf Cedar Reserve, Lebanon’s largest natural forest, not enough snow is falling in the winter months to ensure that future generations of cedars will be able to thrive in the mountainous country. ‘The expected threat to the cedar forest is [that] the natural regeneration will be affected’, said Hani. ‘The cedar seeds need to be under snow for two months minimum’.