A family GP was indefinitely suspended from medical practice in 2019 over sharing Christian beliefs online.
Jereth Kok, a married father of two, has responded openly to FamilyVoice’s written questions about the charges that have been laid at his feet by the Medical Board of Australia.
Q1. Can you give us a brief run-down of what has happened?
I was investigated by the Medical Board after they received two anonymous complaints about things I had said and shared on social media. The complainants are not people who I have ever met. They had searched through and taken exception to my views about a broad range of political topics.
Initially, nine months went by before I was even told about any complaint or investigation. The Board ultimately hired a private investigator to run a dragnet over the internet for material written by me.
One Friday afternoon last year, while consulting with patients, I was suddenly given notice that I was going to be summarily removed from practice to protect the “public interest”. I attended a hearing the following week, at which I was not asked any questions; I was in there for about fifteen minutes. My registration was suspended, meaning that I could no longer work, could no longer provide care or even speak to my patients.
I’ve told the story in more detail in this video interview.
Q2. So what kind of material has gotten you in trouble?
In terms of subject matter, I am in trouble for my views about abortion, about sexuality and so-called “LGBT” issues, and that whole issue of doctors performing so-called “gender transitions” on people.
The material is very diverse, and comes from a 10 year period. It includes political and theological discussions with other Christians on Bill Muehlenberg’s blog (the most recent from 2012). It includes posts and comments I’ve made on my own personal Facebook page, and “memes” and articles that I’ve shared there; including articles by the American political commentator Matt Walsh, and the satire site Babylon Bee.
I’m also in trouble for an opinion piece that I wrote for Eternity magazine on the topic of transgenderism, back in 2015. This one stands out from the others, because it was public and has me wearing my doctor hat. All the rest was written in a personal capacity, for a small audience of friends and family. None of it was spoken in a vacuum—there is always a background of current political events and debates.
Q3. Was there any criticism of your medical practice?
No complaint had been made by any patient or colleague, and there was ultimately no concern about the care that I had provided to anybody. I’ve practised medicine for over 15 years, and looked after many people who would identify as “LGBT”. None of them has ever complained about rudeness, discrimination, etc. When you are a professional, rule number one is you treat everybody the same regardless of what you might personally think of their background, life choices, habits, political affiliation, criminal record, and so on. I’ve never had any difficulty doing this.
Even so, this did not stop the Board from alleging at the outset that I was providing compromised healthcare to “LGBT” patients. They later had to admit that this allegation was unsubstantiated.
Q4: How has the Medical Board and the court process treated you? How have you felt through the case?
The process is impersonal and opaque. You’re dealing with faceless people—bureaucrats and administrators who aren’t in touch with day-to-day clinical practice. You are not told what’s going on. They give you tight timeframes to respond to their demands, then keep you waiting months before they reveal their next move. There is a presumption of guilt.
The investigation process has been criticised at length by doctors who have been through it; former insiders have also spoken about its dysfunction.
Despite a legal obligation to provide regular updates, I haven’t received a single update in 30 months of investigation. It’s been over a year since I have heard anything directly from the Board about what they’re doing with my case.
Another thing that is incredibly frustrating is that a whole year has gone by since my suspension, and I still have not had an opportunity to properly respond to any of the allegations that led to my suspension. In summary, I feel that the whole process lacks any semblance of due process or natural justice.
Q5. Can you give us a sense of what kinds of things you said and shared online? Was it offensive material?
Well I am of the view that offence is taken, not given. These days, people can take offence at pretty much anything you say, and especially when it is to do with these kinds of controversial topics. My concern is not to insult people, it is to voice the truth; and not just any truths, but truths which are foundational to civilisation. The value of human life, the structure of the family, our existence as male and female.
I like to say things straight. I don’t believe in sugar-coating things. Not when we’re talking about things that are monstrous. Abortion is monstrous – it destroys human life on an unfathomable scale. Our nation obliterates several classrooms of pre-born children every single day. It’s so horrific that really the only way to cope is to push it out of conscious thought; on the rare occasions it is spoken about it gets dressed up in dishonest euphemisms like “reproductive choice”.
It’s similar with the “sex change” topic. This is so incredibly destructive, of both individuals and society as a whole. Children are being indoctrinated with fanciful nonsense via programmes like “Safe Schools”—that people have the “wrong body”, or the sheer idiocy about there being fifty different genders. Mentally confused teenagers are put on powerful drugs, usually when they are too young to comprehend the ramifications. Perfectly healthy bodies are permanently altered, right up to the point of surgical destruction of reproductive organs.
So, yes, I have voiced my mind about these issues, and I have shared articles and memes that resonate with my thinking. It’s all happened away from work, in my own personal time, and with the exception of the article for Eternity, directed to a narrow audience. And to date, nobody has actually stepped forward to claim that they’ve been personally harmed by any of my opinions.
Q6. Was there anything you said that you should not have said?
Yes. A couple of my comments included discourteous labels such as “crooks” (referring to doctors who do "sex-change” surgery). I’m happy to admit that calling people “crooks” behind their backs isn’t terribly nice, and I could have chosen my words better.
Looking back, I should have been more careful with visibility. Perhaps some of what was set to “public” visibility should have been set to “friends only”. The thing about Facebook is the “share” function doesn’t work unless the post has been set to “public”. Much of what I’ve gotten in trouble for involves articles and memes, and I want my friends to be able to hit “share” with these. I never dreamt that publicly sharing a Matt Walsh or Babylon Bee article would be career ending; hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Q7. What do you say to the serious allegation made by the MBA, that you have advocated for genocide?
A few months ago, David van Gend kindly wrote an article which deals accurately with this allegation. It involves a comment made on Bill’s blog in 2012 which has been grossly misconstrued. Yes, I speak of genocide, but I am referring to genocide by abortion. Bill had written about Western sponsorship of abortions in poor countries, and how this amounts to rich westerners decimating poor people of other races. I agreed with his position, and reinforced it with a blunt description of how the West is running a programme of race-based extermination via so-called “family planning”. The purpose of my comment was to deride this despicable agenda—this is very easy to see.
But somehow, they have flipped it 180 degrees and claimed that rather than condemning the genocide, I am advocating for it. Just imagine: a pro-lifer wanting to use “family planning” (abortion) to carry out a genocide!
Q8. Could it have been an innocent or careless mis-reading of your comment?
That is possible. People have given me different opinions. Some have said that it reflects a subconscious prejudice—‘you’re a right-wing religious bigot, so of course you must be pro-genocide.’ Others have speculated that they knew very well what I was saying, but wanted to muddy the waters, to make my legal situation more difficult. We’ll probably never know.
Q9. It was also alleged that you “call for capital punishment” for doctors who do abortions. Is this true?
Again, this allegation is based on a single comment. The context was Troy Newman, who is an American pro-life activist. He wanted to come to Australia but wasn’t allowed. At the time, there was controversy about something Newman had written:
“In addition to our personal guilt in abortion, the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people … Consequently, the entire nation has the blood-red stain of the lives of the innocent upon its head.”
I made a comment on Facebook which was phrased as a question, not a declaration. I asked, ‘What is wrong with executing serial killers?’ Now, they do condemn serial killers to death in America. We don’t here. I wanted to provoke people to question why they are okay with a very serious punishment for killing, but when the victims are pre-born babies they get outraged at the mere suggestion. Why this moral double-standard? My comment did not include the word “doctors” or “abortionists”. It certainly did not say, let’s reintroduce capital punishment here and send all the abortion-performing doctors to the gallows.
What they’ve done is take a comment I made, one that is abstract in character and not even relevant to the country that we live in, and put a blood-thirsty spin on it.
Q10. You’ve been suspended from practising medicine. How has this affected you personally?
It meant a long period of time without a job and income, and a whole lot of uncertainty. That was obviously tough on me and my family, though God has provided for our needs. It was hard being suddenly torn away from my workplace and patients. I can only guess at how difficult it must have been for many of the patients who had come to trust and depend on me as their GP over a decade. I get furious when I think about the way that my abrupt removal from practice may have harmed them, emotionally and possibly even physically. Continuity of care is vitally important in medicine.
The experience has certainly driven me to trust God more—to put my confidence in his goodness, his sufficiency, and his promise to vindicate those who suffer injustices in this life.
After spending such a long time in one line of work, I think it has been healthy to think though other interests, other career options. It was not my childhood dream to become a doctor, and while I’ve made an effort to do the job well, I’ve often wondered about doing something else.
Q11. Have you been well supported through all of this?
We have wonderful friends and a great church family. When my situation became known, scores of people contacted us to convey sympathy and support. Several have donated money to help us out. People who we have not seen in over a decade got back in touch. It was quite overwhelming; you suddenly become aware again of that gigantic web of Christian connections out there.
But, of course, COVID-19 came along and isolated us from people and church. It has been hard. In Melbourne we have been under lockdown for over 6 months. Right when we are really craving the company of the people of God we are not allowed to physically gather.
Q12. How have other doctors reacted? Have any gotten in touch with you?
Numerous doctors contacted me when they heard the news—including several who didn’t know me but went out of their way to track me down. A couple of doctors’ associations sought me out. People expressed shock and dismay. They could not believe the Medical Board was cracking down so severely on freedom of expression. Many have resorted to using aliases on social media, to protect themselves, I guess.
Many doctors also reached out to tell me similar stories. I am now aware of more than a half dozen other doctors who have been in trouble with the Board for expressing their opinions about similar topics, away from their practice. They have been after a doctor for speaking at a pro-life event, a doctor who campaigned against “Safe Schools”, several who have said things on Twitter against abortion and gay marriage, one who left a comment about euthanasia on a website, one who said that gender transition therapies are damaging for children.
Most or all of these doctors are religious people. They are a mix of GPs and various kinds of specialists. They have all been put through investigation, some have been given warnings, some have had conditions placed on them, like having to undergo “sensitivity training”. One has had his medical career effectively ended, like me.
It is horrible to learn that all this is happening, but there’s a small amount of consolation in knowing that my situation isn’t totally unique; there is obviously something systematic going on.
Q13. Why do you think so many doctors are being accused in like manner by the Medical Board?
I think it is clear that tolerance of traditional religious views about things like sexuality and gender is rapidly vanishing. We have seen what has happened to people like Israel Folau, Margaret Court, JK Rowling and Brendan Eich. Even a senator was threatened with an anti-discrimination tribunal in Tasmania simply for saying that it isn’t fair for men to compete in women’s sports. The worrying thing about what happened to me is that it shows you do not have to be famous to get in trouble—even nobodies can be targeted for “cancellation”, for decade-old conversations on an obscure religious blog. Someone I know, also a nobody, recently lost his job in the corporate world because he declined to participate in an annual “pride” event.
We are at the business end of the “long march through the institutions”. It is getting increasingly costly to hold unpopular religious beliefs.
Q14. Is there anything people can do to help?
Thank you for asking. Please pray – for guidance as I look for other ways to make a living over the next few years; for protection over my wife and kids; for the lawyers who are going to do the hard yards to defend me when I face trial on charges of misconduct. Pray also that whatever the outcome, the name of Jesus will be magnified because he is the judge of all the Earth.
I will almost certainly need to raise funds to cover my legal expenses. When that time comes, I would be grateful if people could contribute. We do not have a spare hundred thousand dollars sitting around! Whereas those prosecuting me have a virtually unlimited supply of funds.
Links to other articles about Dr Kok’s story
- Doctors under Threat – Cancel Culture is not Quarantined by the Covid-19 Crisis, by John Steenhof
- The Medical Board Falsely Defames a Family Doctor, by Dr David van Gend
- We are all Free to Agree: The Case of Dr Jereth Kok, by Peter Barnes
- Doctor deprived of right to practise because of his views, by Terri M. Kelleher