Religious discrimination? Miscommunication? Persecution complex? It’s hard to tell what sort of story Chris Broom of the Portsmouth News is trying to tell. I mean, the headline, and the opening sentence, are clear enough. “Paganist protests as health visitor tells her to move items.”
“A follower of paganism claims a health visitor told her she should put her religious items away because of the effect they could be having on her son.”
So we gear up for a tale of a health official overstepping his or her authority, ready to unleash our righteous ire. Only, the more you read it, the less it seems like a story about religion. I mean, it is according to family being visited.
“But on one of these visits, Mrs Hawkins says the health visitor told her she should remove pagan images and accessories from her living room because of her concerns for her 10-year-old son David … She said: ‘The lady was commenting on my bits and bobs and she said I ought to take them down because she thought it was detrimental to my son’s wellbeing … ‘I was really angry because Wicca is a recognised religion. You wouldn’t go into a Muslim’s home and ask them to take down their religious items would you?’”
“Hampshire Partnership NHS Trust Jamie Stevenson said the health visitor had been referring to some collectible dolls not connected to religious beliefs, known as Living Dead dolls, which Mrs Hawkins had on display.”
So unless Living Dead Dolls are now considered Wiccan religious items, this isn’t a religious persecution story. It might have been an anti-goth sort of story, but even that falls flat when you keep reading.
“We would never give advice on parenting unless they were doing something extremely wrong, which isn’t the case here. With a mental health patient like Mrs Hawkins we are trying to build a rapport and look after her needs, not to go in and throw our weight around.”
So, the British version of child services wasn’t being threatened on them, the NHS says they have no intention of “throwing its weight around”, and they actually seem quite apologetic about the whole thing. So what, really, is the story here? An NHS mental health worker suggests moving some morbid dolls to the bedroom, and the offended family calls the press?
I suppose one could make the argument that these dolls have been imbued with religious meaning by Mrs Hawkins, but even the most enlightened NHS official would have a hard time figuring that out. This seems very much like a reporter creating a controversy where there isn’t one, spinning the Pagan angle to gather attention. Oh, and Mr. Broom? Adherents of modern Paganism are Pagans, not “Paganists”.