A theology lecturer files a lawsuit against a Methodist school after being fired over a tweet

A theology lecturer has initiated legal proceedings against a Methodist Bible college in England, following his dismissal for a tweet about sexuality. The case involves issues of free speech and religious expression.

In March, Aaron Edwards, 37, was dismissed from Cliff College in Derbyshire for allegedly “bringing the institution into disrepute” with his tweet. He has now filed a lawsuit, supported by the Christian Law Center, citing harassment, discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Edwards’ legal team plans to argue that his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights have been violated, Christian Concern, whose legal arm is CLC, said in statement.

The tweet, posted on February 19, reads: “Homosexuality is invading the Church. Evangelicals no longer see the severity of this b/c they are busy apologizing for their apparently barbaric homophobia, whether it’s true or not. This that is ‘matter of the Gospel’, moreover. If sin is no longer sin, we no longer need a Savior.”

Following the post, Edwards faced online abuse, suspension and a threat of being reported to Prevent, an anti-terrorism program, during the college’s investigation.

Cliff College tried to refute claims that Edwards was threatened with an anti-terrorism reference, but minutes from the disciplinary hearing suggest otherwise, CLC said.

The hearing also examined Edwards’ approach to praying for same-sex attracted students. He fears that the fallout from this incident could prevent him from working in UK higher education again.

Edwards, in launching his legal claim, emphasized the significance of the case for academic and Christian freedoms. “Anyone who cares about academic freedom, Christian freedoms and free speech should be deeply troubled by what happened to me,” he said, describing the reaction to his tweet and the treatment of Cliff College and the Methodist Church in Britain. as illustrative of this. the issues his tweet addressed.

CLC chief executive Andrea Williams expressed dismay at the situation, highlighting the conflict between traditional Christian teachings on sexuality and contemporary societal values. She noted the Methodist Church’s deviation from its traditional stance on marriage and its implications for freedom of speech within the church.

This case reflects wider tensions within the Methodist Church in Britain, particularly following its June 2021 decision to allow same-sex marriages in its places of worship.

Edwards insists that his post was not homophobic but a doctrinal statement addressed to evangelicals. Despite his explanations, Cliff College asked Edwards to remove the tweet, citing a violation of its social media policy, which he refused, believing it would compromise his conscience.

The college’s response to the tweet included a public statement distancing itself from Edwards’ views. This was followed by a wave of complaints from senior members of the Methodist Church, expressing concerns about the effect of the tweet on the work and reputation of the college.

During the investigation and disciplinary process, Edwards was suspended and faced questions that suggested a charge of promoting “conversion therapy.” The principal of Cliff College, the Reverend Ashley Cooper, who supported the 2021 decision to allow same-sex marriages in Methodist churches, led the disciplinary hearing.

Edwards’ case is set for a full employment tribunal hearing in 2024.

The case gained support, including a crowdfunding initiative to help his family and plans to establish a new theological college promoting free speech.

The incident adds to a growing list of cases where individuals face professional consequences for expressing opinions on social media that conflict with prevailing attitudes to LGBT ideology, as seen in several cases also in the United States.

In January, American video game distributor Limited Run Games fired one of its employees due to a social media backlash over the fact that she followed several right-wing Twitter accounts and made statements critics deemed “transphobic.”

In 2020, The Tobias Literary Agency, which has offices in Boston, New York and Nashville, fired one of its assistants, Sasha White, from her job for tweeting that transgender-identifying men who say they are women are not biologically female.

Source: www.christianpost.com

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