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Case news

Breaking News

Court allows expulsion for expressing Biblical teaching

Christian student Felix Ngole will appeal today’s ruling

The High Court has rejected Felix Ngole’s attempt to reverse his expulsion from a university social work course because he expressed his biblical beliefs on Facebook.

But, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Felix has announced that he will appeal the ruling.

He says that he is very disappointed by today’s ruling which “supports the university’s decision to bar me from my chosen career because of my Biblical views on sexual ethics.” 

“I intend to appeal this decision which clearly intends to restrict me from expressing my Christian faith in public,” he adds.

Explaining the significance of the case, Andrea Williams, says:

“The court has ruled that although Felix is entitled to hold Biblical beliefs 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 ethics that has been singled out for sanction by the university.

“The university has acted as ‘thought police’. This ruling will have a chilling effect on Christian students up and down the country who will now understand that their social media posts may be investigated for political correctness.

“Rulings like this show that society is becoming increasingly intolerant of Christian beliefs and values. Christians are being told to shut up and keep quiet about their ethical views or face a bar from employment.

“We completely support Felix in appealing this ruling in an effort to protect basic freedoms in society.”

Thank you for your prayers and support for Felix and the Christian Legal Centre team.

Please continue your support as Felix prepares for the next stage, helped by the Christian Legal Centre. 

Yes, I want to support Felix in the next step of his challenge

‘Expressing Biblical beliefs’

In 2015, while studying for an MA in social work at the University of Sheffield, Felix engaged in discussion on Facebook prompted by the story of the American registrar Kim Davis who was imprisoned after she declined, on conscience grounds, to register same-sex ‘marriages’.

Felix expressed his Christian beliefs on the issue and argued 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 for Biblical support for his arguments, and quoted various passages to demonstrate this.

Nearly two months later, Felix received an email from a university official informing him that his Facebook comments were being investigated. He was later interviewed by an investigatory team, and subsequently removed from his course by a panel chaired by Professor Marsh, an LGBT rights campaigner.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Felix sought to challenge the university’s decision in a judicial review which was heard in the High Court over two days.

Today, however, the court has ruled that the university acted lawfully in removing Felix from his course.

‘Perception of discrimination’

The court heard that the university’s investigatory team “accepted that Mr Ngole was fully entitled to his religious beliefs, and had acted with honesty and integrity.

The university said that it was not Felix’s beliefs that were at issue, but his public posting of these beliefs. The university said that this expression of his views “may have caused offence to some individuals”.

The university argued that it was right to sanction Mr Ngole and bar him from his chosen profession despite the fact that Mr Ngole had lawfully expressed his Christian views as a practising Christian, outside of his professional studies, in a context in which he was not identified as a social work student, and despite this expression having no impact on his work and professional abilities!

The university agreed that there had been no cause for concern or evidence of Felix acting in a discriminatory fashion, whether on placement or otherwise.

The university’s decision was not based on speculation that Mr Ngole would discriminate in the future either. No discrimination by Felix had actually occurred, or was expected to occur.

What in the end was judged to have justified the university’s actions was a risk of damage by perception:

The court ruled that “It was how [Felix’s comments] could be accessed and read by people who would perceive them as judgemental, incompatible with service ethos, or suggestive of discriminatory intent.

“That was a problem in its own right. … But whatever the actual intention was, it was the perception of the posting that would cause the damage. It was reasonable to be concerned about that perception” (emphasis added).

Help Felix continue his challenge

The Christian Legal Centre is not charging Felix for the support that we are giving him. His case is important for all of us.

But we are only able to offer support to those who need it because of your generosity. Thank you.

Felix’s case is about the freedom to hold and express biblical beliefs.

If you can, please make a gift to help us support Felix as we prepare for the next stage. All donations, however large or small, make a difference. Thank you.

Yes, I want to support Felix in the next step of his challenge

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High Court hears Felix Ngole’s challenge

Thank you for your prayers for Felix Ngole and the Christian Legal Centre team during this week’s High Court hearing.

Felix was removed from a social work course at Sheffield University after he expressed his Christian beliefs about marriage and sexual ethics during a Facebook discussion.

With help from the Christian Legal Centre, he is challenging the decision at the High Court. Thank you for your support which has made this possible.

Standing Counsel Paul Diamond highlighted the importance of the case, saying that left uncorrected, Felix’s experience could be the beginning of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ culture for Christians in public service. He also argued that the European Convention on Human Rights protects Felix’s expression of his beliefs.

The court also heard how the chair of the committee that removed Felix is a longstanding LGBT activist but this interest was never declared. Further evidence was submitted about a visit to the university of a controversial Islamic teacher just a short time after Felix was told that he was being investigated for his defence of a mainstream, Christian understanding of marriage on Facebook.

Please continue to pray. We are now waiting for a ruling in the case which could take several weeks.

Felix has asked for your continued support in this important case.

Read Felix’s request for your help
Donate now to stand with Felix

‘Politically incorrect’ Bible on trial

“It is difficult to overstate the importance of [Felix’s] case”, says Tim Dieppe, as he reflects on this week’s High Court hearing. He outlines some of the arguments made and evidence submitted, before concluding: “Basic freedoms in our society are at stake. It is not really about the politically incorrect student, it is about the politically incorrect Bible … It shows the true intolerance of those who argue for tolerance.” Gavin Ashenden has also written about what is at stake.
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Breaking News

Christian student granted judicial review after being expelled over views on sexuality

Felix Ngole has been granted permission for a judical review
 
Thank you for praying for Felix ahead of his hearing at the High Court.
We give thanks that on Tuesday (25 April) the High Court granted Felix permission for a judicial review of the decision to expel him from the University of Sheffield, after he expressed the Christian view of marriage and sexuality during a Facebook discussion.
Read Andrea Williams’ comment on the case
Help us protect gospel freedoms

Christian bar to office

Andrea Williams writes:
Felix Ngole puts another face to the increasing alienation of Christians from the public square.
In 2016 he was expelled from the University of Sheffield for expressing support for the biblical view of sexuality during a Facebook discussion.
Yet in an important ruling today, justice prevailed as the High Court granted permission for Felix to judicially review the University’s decision to expel him.
Read Andrea’s full comment
Yes, I want to stand with Felix

Donate to support Felix

The Christian Legal Centre is not charging Felix for the support that we give him. We are able to offer support to those who need it because of your generosity. Thank you.
But, as ever, this case is not just about Felix. It’s also about the freedom to hold and express Christian beliefs in public service.
Please help us to support Felix and others like him, by making a donation, however small, if you can.
Yes, I want to donate to support Felix
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