On Wednesday I'll be recording my fourth appearance on Premier Christian Radio's 'Unbelievable' show. If you like Christian and non Christian debate I recommend you check out their archive. The host, Justin Brierley, makes an excellent moderator and always ensures both sides get fair hearing.
My last two shows were on miracles. After they aired a faith healer called David contacted the host and offered to take me on an evening of healing on the streets of Dublin. I was reticent - David is based in the Middle East and if nothing else I did not want him to incur the financial expense of such a journey. I think we left it as something along the lines of 'only if you happen to be here'.
Time passed and David contacted me with dates of his planned visit to Ireland. By happy coincidence we later discovered that one of his Irish cohorts knows my brother in law. We agreed to meet, spent an evening in Dublin city centre, and got on rather well.
That was perhaps seven months ago. At the time Justin asked me if I'd like to go back on his show to discuss the experience and if I'm honest I ducked the request. I liked, indeed admired David, and his ministry didn't raise any flags normally associated with faith healers. He does not accept remuneration, does not seek fame or recognition, avoids those with obvious serious ailments lest he causes offence, and seems to genuinely brighten the days of those he encounters. I felt my choice was between arguing with a likeable fellow with heartfelt intentions or taking a very soft approach and inadvertently endorsing faith healers who have a negative impact on society.
Recently Justin asked again. David seemed game, I had a day off around the time and I thought why not. This post is as much my effort to collect my thoughts and give David fair warning of points I'll raise as anything else. Given the gap in time I'm sure our recollections will differ in places, any lapses on my part are unintentional. Given how long and unwieldy this post has become I'll only discuss the first few encounters.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Sunday, April 6, 2014
All people are equal. But some people are less equal than my #SincerelyHeldBeliefs.
— King of Iona (@KingOfIona) April 6, 2014
"...it is not discrimination for a religious employer to act against a member of staff who is undermining their ethos." - David Quinn, March 9th, 2013
Mrs Shorts and I spent an enjoyable St Patrick's week in Cork. We rented a small castle, found a semi abandoned 18th century walled garden, toured ruins and visited Fota Island. We had lunch in Ballymaloe. We toured the Jameson distillery. When I returned to work I told colleagues about the time I spent with the woman I love, showed holiday pictures, and recommended castle rental.
I can do this in Ireland because I do not have a religious employer and my sexuality is not considered a threat to anyone's sincerely held beliefs. If Mrs Shorts was a Mr and I had chosen education as a career path I would likely have required a cover story. I could have avoided any discussions with colleagues, I suppose, or pretended I had travelled alone. But renting a romantic castle for solo use is a little suspicious so I may have had to pretend I spent the week at home. Photos, naturally, would have to be kept from social media. Perhaps I could invent a partner of approved gender and spin tales to fit. It would be awkward to explain why said partner could never attend work social events, but that is a price considered appropriate to protect the delicate sincerely held beliefs of some.