Rapist inmate claims he was discriminated against because unit failed to offer Christian worship


Following the victory earlier this month, O’Neil added: “I am a damaged person, a convicted criminal, but the only true redemption I have found in my life is hope in Jesus Christ. I rely on that input for my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. 

“So when it was denied to me and instead I was provided with a psychic to administer Holy Communion, I knew I had to take a stand, not just for me, but for all the patients at the centre.”

The CLC, which represented O’Neil throughout his case, said that as the centre now offers weekly Christian services – by an ordained minister, Methodist or Anglican – they have not proceeded with legal action. 

However, a spokesman said that in the event that the Trust “goes back on their promise we will commence proceedings immediately”.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “All the Christian patients at the centre wanted was to have a service and Holy Communion on a Sunday, which recognised the hope they have in Jesus Christ, and to exercise their faith in Him. This was not being taken seriously and what the centre was providing was wholly inappropriate and disturbing to already vulnerable patients.”

A spokesman for ELFT and the John Howard Centre said that both services “believe strongly that all service users should be able to have their spiritual and religious needs met”, adding “and we work hard to ensure that everyone is able to observe their faith”. 

“The Spiritual and Religious Department at the John Howard Centre make sure all spiritual and religious faiths are catered for and have dedicated Christian ministers who work diligently to attend to individual service users’ needs. 

“The sacrament of Holy Communion is offered to all Christians at the centre, with a weekly Christian service available for all to attend.” 

The ELFT spokesman added: “The Trust does refute the claim that we were discriminatory in the provision of religious service at the John Howard Centre.

Every effort was made to ensure that people of all faiths had access to a minister of their choosing and appropriate worship services. A regular Sunday service was re-established this month in order to further meet the needs of all. “


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