A doctor accused medical watchdogs of persecuting Christians as he denied trying to convert a patient to his religion on Wednesday.
Committed Christian Dr Richard Scott told the General Medical Council (GMC) "doing God is good for your health" but insisted he had not overstepped the mark with a patient because of the strength of his religious convictions.
He is appearing before the GMC for alleged breach of medical rules after a consultation with the patient at his surgery in Margate, Kent, in August 2010.
The GP, a committed Christian, "crossed the line" it is alleged, after pushing his views on the vulnerable and "psychologically troubled" 24-year-old man, known only as patient A.
Dr Richard Scott, who is accused of trying to impose his personal views on a patient
But the 51-year-old, who previously worked as a missionary doctor in India and Tanzania, said at the end of the usual medical consultation he made a "gentle offer" to the patient to broach the subject of faith and was told by the patient to "go for it".
It was only when the patient's mother later complained that he was accused of breaking the rules about imposing personal views on patients - which he vehemently denies.
The GP, who is being treated for cancer, claimed the GMC had pursued his case with "excessive zeal" and is "singling out Christianity" as part of a "wider trend to marginalise Christianity".
The doctor's surgery was based in Margate, which Dr Scott described as a "poor place with social problems"
The father-of-three has, since 2003, worked with his wife, also a GP, at the Bethesda Medical Practice, an "expressly Christian" doctor's surgery in the seaside town.
"Why has God led me to Margate?" Dr Scott said as he began his evidence before the Investigations Committee of the GMC sitting in Manchester.
Dr Scott said working as a doctor was more interesting in a "poor place" with social problems.
"Margate fulfils both criteria, believe you me," he added.
He said he began to work with alcoholics, the homeless and drug addicts but said the conventional medical approach did not "answer all the questions" and medicine did not address spiritual care.
Dr Scott said many scientific studies, mainly done in the US and examining Judeo-Christian religions, showed faith benefited patients.
"Put simply, doing God is good for your heath," he added.
"We have massive evidence, it is now evidence-based medicine to the extent spirituality and faith is now becoming a new angle with medicine.
"It's a new specialism. The fact that Christians are optimistic is very positive for health. Christians get less depressed and recover 70% faster. They are 84% less suicidal.
"I'm not just a maverick doctor reaching out to patients," he added.
Cross-examined by Andrew Hurst, counsel for the GMC, Dr Scott denied telling the patient he would "suffer eternally" if he did not turn to Jesus and said it was an "absolute fabrication" that he had "belittled" the patient's own religion or sought to convert the patient to Christianity.
The committee heard the patient was happy to talk about religion and Dr Scott said he broached the subject in a "gentle, non-threatening" way and was told to "go for it".
But patient A then changed tack and "cut up rough" telling the doctor it was a "load of bollocks".
"Perception is everything here," Dr Scott said.
"If someone doesn't like the message they may then shoot the messenger.
"It doesn't mean the message or the messenger is a bad guy."
Mr Hurst suggested Dr Scott had made an unfavourable comparison between Christianity and the patient's own faith, which has not been disclosed in public.
"I said you may find that Christianity offers you something that your own faith doesn't currently offer you," Dr Scott replied.
"This is a man who has walked away from his own faith, which therefore doesn't help him at all."
The GP also said Christianity had the scientific evidence base behind it that other faiths did not.
"On that basis, Christianity, in your opinion, offers more than other faiths?" Mr Hurst said.
"Demonstrably and scientifically the case," the GP replied.
"It is not just my position, it is scientifically proven. I chose to believe the science.
"I have the evidence behind what I say."
Mr Hurst said "the effect" of what he told the patient was to promote Christianity over the patient's own religion.
"He had walked away from his own religion," Dr Scott replied.
"I'm offering something that could have changed his life. It doesn't justify shooting the messenger. Maybe he would have been wise to take up the offer.
"I have got something at my fingertips which could have changed his life. I have got something that could be wonderful."
Mr Hurst suggested to the doctor that because of his deep Christian convictions he had been over-eager to give faith as a solution to his problems and on this occasion "crossed the line".
The GP replied: "Saying I pressed it too hard, I do not accept. I was eager but not over-eager.
"Had it been an entire 25-minute preach, that would have been outside the guidelines."
He added: "Thirty years ago we would never have been in this position. We would agree to disagree and go our separate ways.
"I will stick to my guns - it could have changed his life. If you really don't like us, go somewhere else.
"You can't just take off your faith when you enter the consultation room, either as a patient or doctor.
"You are who you are."
Paul Diamond, counsel for Dr Scott, also addressed the committee on behalf of the GP.
"What he does say is he believes this is a case of the GMC singling out Christianity," he said.
"He does believe Christianity has been singled out for adverse treatment and believes this to be a wider trend in our society to marginalise the Christian faith.
"He does not believe any other religion would have been singled out.
"He believes he appears before you today because he mentioned the name of the Lord Jesus.
"He believes the GMC has pursued this with excessive zeal. At the end of the consultation he discussed the Lord Jesus with a patient.
"We say the nub of the case is what you heard yesterday. Dr Scott's views were charmingly referred to as a, 'load of bollocks'.
"That may have been patient A's views of Dr Scott's religious position.
"However, it is wholly unsatisfactory that an eminent GP should have to be engaged in such a matter because of peoples' disagreements about the merits or demerits of the Christian faith."
The hearing continues.
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