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Published On: Tue, Oct 31st, 2017

UK judge rules against Christian Felix Ngole’s right to express Christian views as social worker

In a shocking free speech case, a Christian student who was expelled from university after posting on Facebook in support of Biblical teaching on marriage and sexual ethics has lost his case in a judicial review of the university’s decision.

Felix Ngole was in the Sheffield University Master’s program for Social Work, but kicked out in 2015 after posting on Facebook that “same sex marriage is a sin whether we like it or not. It is God’s words and man’s sentiments would not change His words”. He was asked where in the Bible it says that same-sex marriage is wrong, and he quoted various passages to demonstrate this.

Felix was then notified that the remarks were under investigation and he was expelled. Now the court ruled that the university acted lawfully in removing Ngole.

photo Josh Janssen via Flickr

The court heard that the university “investigatory team accepted that Felix was fully entitled to his religious beliefs, and had acted with honesty and integrity.” The university held that it was not Felix’s views that were at issue, but his public posting of these views. They held that this expression of his views “may have caused offence to some individuals.”

The court even agreed that Ngole’s freedom of speech had been impaired, that his posts “were undoubtedly intended by him to convey a religious perspective” but nevertheless, the court ruled that “Felix had no religious imperative to comment on an American news website about Kim Davis.”

The judgment stated: “Freedom of expression is an important right. Exercising that right to express the content of deeply held religious views deserves respect in a democratic and plural society, nowhere more so than in a university. Freedom of religious discourse is a public good of great importance and seriousness.”

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre which is supporting the student, issue this statement:

“The court has ruled that though Felix is entitled to hold his Biblical views on sexual ethics, he is not entitled to express them. But freedom to believe without freedom of expression is no freedom at all.

“Many views are frequently expressed by students on social media and in other contexts. It is the expression of Biblical morality that has been singled out for sanction by the university.

“The university, in investigating Felix’s personal Facebook posts and disciplining him for them, is acting as if they are thought police. This ruling will have a chilling effect on Christian students up and down the country who will now understand that their personal social media posts may be investigated for political correctness.

“As the judgment stated: ‘Freedom of expression is an important right. Exercising that right to express the content of deeply held religious views deserves respect in a democratic and plural society, nowhere more so than in a university.’ In this case the judge has failed to safeguard Felix’s freedom of expression, in spite of the importance she rightly attaches to that freedom.

“This ruling comes after Jo Johnson, the universities minister last week criticised universities for failing to protect freedom of speech. He said: ‘Freedom of speech is a fundamentally British value which is undermined by a reluctance of institutions to embrace healthy vigorous debate. Our universities must open minds not close them.’

“This ruling flies in the face of the government’s expressed intention to promote free speech at universities.”

Williams said: “Rulings like this show that society is becoming increasingly intolerant of Christian moral values. Christians are being told to shut up and keep quiet about their moral views or face a bar from employment. Unless the views you express are politically correct, you may be barred from office. This is very far from how a free and fair society should operate.

“We will appeal this ruling in an attempt to protect basic freedoms in our society. No democratic society can function without freedom of expression. This ruling shakes the foundations of freedom in our society.”

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  1. MikeW says:

    The “offence” argument is discriminatory. Many people find LGBT speech offensive. Apparently in the UK, LGBT offence is more equal than Christian offence.

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