Britain’s Christian Legal Centre says it has hired a human rights lawyer to represent Olive Jones, a 54-year old maths teacher who is being investigated by the North Somerset Council after she offered to say prayers in front of a 14-year old student suffering from leukemia.
Worshippers at the Carmel Christianity Centre, a Pentecostal group in Bristol, said it will this week pray for the reinstatement of Jones who is the latest British Christian to have faced disciplinary or
action for expressing their faith in public.Julian Clarke, a spokesperson for the Carmel centre, told Ecumenical News International that lawyer Paul Diamond will represent Jones.
“All of us feel that as Christians we must now pursue the message of Jesus Christ even more strongly,” he stated. “There is definitely a move in Britain to sideline the Christian faith, and that is wrong.
“Jones, the wife of a fellow maths teacher, Peter Jones, and mother of two sons, is a part-time teacher who until recently was employed by the North Somerset Council in the west of England as a home-visit teacher.
During a home visit in November 2008, Jones asked 43-year-old Stephanie Lynch, if she could say a prayer for the woman’s daughter, who suffers from leukemia. She was told in strong terms that the Lynch family are non-believers, so Jones said she dropped the subject.
Later, Lynch complained to the North Somerset Council who employed Jones. The Christian Legal Centre stated that shortly after, Jones was dismissed from her job at Oak Hill Short Stay School and Tuition Services in Naislea, North Somerset near Bristol.
The centre also quoted a spokesperson for North Somerset Council, Nick Yates, as saying that a complaint made by a parent regarding Jones is being investigated.”To complete the investigation we need to speak to Olive and we have offered her a number of dates so this can happen,” Yates said. “At the moment we are waiting for her to let us know which date is convenient for her.”
Jones was told that told that her offer to say a Christian prayer in front of a sick student could be construed as “bullying”.
She was quoted in London’s Daily Mail newspaper on Dec. 21 as saying, “I am amazed that a country with such a strong Christian tradition has become a country where it is hard to speak about your faith.
“The Christian think tank Ekklesia, however, described as “misleading” claims that Jones had been dismissed.
“The teacher in question has not in fact been sacked, but the complaint against her is being investigated. This is standard procedure when a complaint is made,” said the comment from Ekklesia co-director Jonathan Bartley.
London’s Daily Mail newspaper said editorially: “It may well be that publicity and the support of pressure groups may rescue Mrs Jones, as it rescued Caroline Petrie, a nurse subjected to similar treatment. But the fundamental problem, the slow takeover of this country by politically correct zealots, continues to grow.”
Caroline Petrie, a close friend of Jones, who is a nurse, was subjected to disciplinary action in 2008 after she asked a patient whether she would like to be prayed for. She was re-instated in February 2009, after receiving help from the Christian Legal Centre.