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US Adventist blasts Andrews' sex policy; lawyer stands with hospital

Published:Tuesday | June 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue

Blane Fitzgerald Stoddart, the president and chairman of the Better Living Centre in Pennsylvania, United States, has labelled the actions of Andrews Memorial Hospital "morally reprehensible" for its decision to take disciplinary action, including dismissal, against staffers it considers fornicators and adulterers.

Stoddart, who describes himself as "an activist in the Jamaican diaspora and active Adventist community service leader in Chester, Pennsylvania," said the hospital's decision to tell single pregnant women to use the back entrance of the hospital has no biblical basis.

"... The decision to actually punish employees for moral sins, rather than giving them a chance for redemption, is actually ill-conceived and has no biblical or church basis for action on several fronts," said Stoddart in a letter to The Gleaner as he reacted to a report in The Sunday Gleaner this week, under the headline 'Sex police'.

The hospital's now-retired chief executive officer, Dr Patric Rutherford, in March 2015 wrote to staffers outlining grounds on which individuals may be disciplined, including dismissal, which include fornication, adultery, sexual harassment, lewd and lascivious behaviour, theft and murder.

Stoddard, in his broadside, said the employees were not "officers of the Church" and the Bible should at least be used to give some credence to the newly implemented policy.

"I am hoping and praying for quick court action to declare this type of action discriminatory to women, who are now the major wage earners in Jamaica," he said.

"I am also hoping that the church in constituency and board meetings will vote out or fire these self-righteous leaders ... ," Stoddard stated in his letter.

According to him: "All have sinned, and the message of the cross is about redemption, not condemnation."




However, the hospital's position finds favour with at least one local attorney-at-law.

Mark-Paul Cowan, attorney at Nunes Scholefield and DeLeon, said the hospital has every right to insert "morality clauses into its terms and conditions of employment to protect its image, reputation and moral standing with the public".

According to Cowan, the hospital cannot effectively supervise fornication and adultery, "but if such conduct is specifically prohibited under agreed terms and conditions, the employer has every right to institute disciplinary proceedings upon the presentation of credible, actionable evidence of a breach".

"The hospital clearly wishes to operate in a way that can uphold its moral standing with its congregants and the public at large," he said.

"It has determined that to achieve this result, it will maintain a work policy mirroring the teachings of the church and we should not be so quick to attack this position in a free and democratic society," he concluded.