UK Doctor Fired for 'Peaceful Christmas' Email Loses Appeal

A doctor in the U.K. has lost an unfair dismissal case against the hospital that fired him two years ago for emailing a prayer to colleagues during Christmas.

Dr. David Drew faced an employment tribunal at Walsall Manor Hospital in the West Midlands and was dismissed for "gross misconduct and insubordination" in Dec. 2010. The 64-year old father of four had emailed a prayer by 16th century Jesuit founder St. Ignatius Loyola as part of a Christmas greeting to colleagues, but was terminated from his position after one staff member found the emails "bizarre" and "inappropriate," the Telegraph reported.

The clinical doctor, who said he attends a Baptist church, prefaced his email with the statement: "I find this a personal inspiration in my frail imperfect efforts to serve my patients, their families and our department."

Another email he sent to a colleague wishing him a "peaceful Christmas" was perceived as an "aggressive and unwelcome intrusion" into the colleague's private time.

The review by a tribunal, however, found that Dr. Drew's religious language was inappropriate for a professional setting, and upheld his firing.

"There is no need for such assertions in professional communication nor was there a need to make religious references if they are considered inappropriate and if they hinder proper communication," explained Judge David Kearsley from the Employment Tribunal. The judge also clarified that it was not just Christians, but Muslim and Hindu doctors who were also barred from quoting religious texts at work.

The doctor, however, has stated that he intended to cause no harm with his prayer, and was only expressing his beliefs.

"This means you cannot be yourself in the workplace, you cannot say 'I am a Christian,'" he told the Telegraph. "Other people who have got other religions won't be allowed to (express their faith) either," he continued.

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Center, which defends Christians facing discrimination in the work place, has said: "This is like the shutting down of identity. This approach to Christians is like forcing them to deny their identity – being Christian isn't something which you take off when you go to work."

"To say that it is not appropriate to say that you are a Christian at work is to totally misunderstand our history, our heritage, freedom under the law, freedom of religion, it is deeply illiberal, it is wrong," she added.

Dr. Drew has said he plans to appeal the latest decision.