An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A Missed Anglican Moment - Occupy

I watched the eviction of the Occupy St. Paul’s camp live on TV and have followed the coverage of it today. The words ‘Go Figure’, in American parlance, came to me.

The people who were praying and seeking the guardianship of St. Paul’s during the eviction were the protesters. People who are pleased that the protesters have gone described their glee in terms of St. Paul’s being a ‘magnificent Wren building’, as a ‘historical building’ or ‘as tourist site’ that was not allowed to be touristed (I made this word up). So the situation is as follows. The lovers of architecture and tourists had been deprived all these months of visiting a building while, in the meantime, the people who were camped right outside waited and waited and waited for Christian charity. The building in question is a church. ‘Go figure’. See what I mean?

Somewhere along the continuum line of protest and authority lies the difference between the message of Jesus and the means by which the message is conveyed (nice building). The church had the authority to be master of its’ actions. The resignations that happened were as a result of internal conduct towards an external situation. The protesters did not call for resignations to occur. I know of Christians who have blamed the Occupy movement for the resignations that happened at St.Paul’s and, seemingly, what they are saying is that the church ought not to be sullied by contemporary issues. Yesterday was another opportunity to put things right. ‘Go figure’.

Symon Hill and Jonathan Bartley from Ekklesia, the Christian think tank, were present last night at the eviction and were praying when they were told to move on by the police. Mr Bartley alleges that St.Paul’s was complicit in all this. You can read his account here and watch the video above. 

Here’s my answer to‘Go Figure'. The Anglican Church as represented by St.Paul’s missed another opportunity to demonstrate a sense of Christian purpose.  They could have been bold and exerted some authority to ensure that nothing happened on their steps or on their roofs. They didn’t. For a faith that claims to represent everyone, well, it didn't. 

Friday, 17 February 2012

74 Deaths By Indifference

A lack of nutrition, hydration, pain relief and a general deficit in the level of nursing care provided to disabled people has resulted in 74 needless deaths so far in the UK. 'Death by indifference: 74 deaths and counting'  is a report published by Mencap this week on the disgraceful situation. I have a special interest in disability issues because I am Chair of a charity called Powerhouse for women with learning disabilities.

The report ought to come with a warning of the anger that one will feel upon reading it, especially when one considers the context for the report. In 2007 Mencap published a report of a similar title which reported of the deaths of 6 people due to a lack of care by the authorities. An investigation was subsequently conducted by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and safety measures were implemented. Five years later the problem seems to be a growing one rather than one being actively tackled.

One of the case studies in the report is about David Tait who died aged 49. He had a moderate to severe learning disability and lived in a supported living service. He had strong family connections and went on holidays with them. He loved Christmas. One day David suffered 3 seizures and was rushed to hospital with an abnormal heart rhythm reading done by the ambulance staff. Unfortunately, this report was not given to the hospital. David's mother tried to tell the hospital about this but David was only treated for asthma rather than for his heart problem. He died of a heart attack 12 days before Christmas in 2010.

The Equality Act 2010 was passed to make disability a protected characteristic. What this means in practice is that a disabled person cannot legally be treated any different from an able bodied person. What the contents of Mencap's report shows, however, is that no amount of legal rules can act as a barrier to discrimination. Instead, there is a huge deficit in our society of discrimination and apathy towards people with learning disabilities who are suffering from the three strikes of: (a) hate crime; (b)welfare cuts; and (c) poor medical care.

We do not all need to function in the same way and look the same to be valued and treated as human beings.