Christian Hospital Worker Punished for Sharing Faith Loses Again in Court
A Christian therapist in England who was suspended after being accused of evangelizing to a Muslim colleague has suffered another loss in court.
Victoria Wasteney, the former head of Forensic Occupational Therapy at a hospital in London, was issued a nine-month suspension by East London National Health Service in 2014 after an eight-page complaint was filed against her by a Muslim colleague named Enya Nawaz.
As has been reported, Nawaz and Wasteney, a born-again Christian, developed a relationship while working at the St. John Howard Centre in East London and at points discussed religious differences.
Nawaz's complaint accused Wasteney of trying to convert her to Christianity. Wasteney reportedly offered to pray with Nawaz, gave her a book authored by a Muslim convert to Christianity and invited her to an event organized by her church.
Wasteney was also accused of putting her hand on Nawaz's knee while in a prayer and asking God to come to Nawaz.
Wasteney was initially thrown off by the allegations because she thought they had developed a good relationship. She told the Daily Mail in 2015 that she only put her hand on Nawaz's knee to comfort Nawaz when she was dealing with health problems.
"I put my hand on her knee to comfort her and asked if that was okay, and said, 'Would you like me to pray for you?'" Wasteney told the Daily Mail, "She said yes, so I asked for God to bring peace and healing. She left the office afterwards and said she was okay."
Wasteney has denied that her act of giving Nawaz the book I Dared to Call Him Father, was an attempt to convert her.
According to The Telegraph, an East London NHS Foundation Trust disciplinary hearing in February 2014 upheld three charges against Wasteney and found five charges to be unsubstantiated. In the hearing, Wasteney was convicted of "gross misconduct."
In October 2015, Wasteney won the right to appeal the NHS' action to the Employment Appeal Tribunal on the basis of religious liberty. However, Judge Jennifer Eady ruled against her in April 2016.
"What the court clearly failed to do was to say how, in today's politically correct world, any Christian can even enter into a conversation with a fellow employee on the subject of religion and not, potentially, later end up in an employment tribunal," Wasteney was quoted as saying at the time. "If someone sends you friendly text messages, how is one to know that they are offended? I had no idea that I was upsetting her."
According to the U.K.-based Christian Legal Centre, Wasteney filed for an appeal against Eady's 2016 decision and appeared in court Thursday. However, a tweet from the advocacy group on Thursday explained that Wasteney's "permission to appeal has been rejected" and the "legal battle goes on."
In a video posted online Wednesday, Wasteney said she hoped Thursday's hearing would grant her permission to seek a full hearing on the matter in an appeals court.