Christian Social Worker in UK to Appeal ‘Chilling’ Ruling

Christian Social Worker in UK to Appeal ‘Chilling’ Ruling

A Christian social worker plans to appeal a ruling from an employment tribunal in the U.K. after he was denied a job due to his Biblical beliefs on gender and sexuality.

Judge Jonathan Brain found that Touchstone Leeds, a National Health Service (NHS) provider, had directly discriminated against Felix Ngole, a Christian social worker, by withdrawing a job offer after learning of his Biblical beliefs. However, the ruling did not require NHS to reinstate Ngole, and contains what U.K.-based religious liberty watchdog Christian Concern calls “mixed and chilling conclusions for Christian freedoms and free speech.”

“I am pleased that the tribunal found that I was discriminated against,” Ngole said, “but there are so many disturbing comments and conclusions in it as well which leaves me with no choice but to appeal. The ruling ultimately sets a dangerous precedent as it gives employers the freedom to block Christians, and anyone who doesn’t promote [LGBTQ] ideology, from employment.”

“No one has ever told me that I have not treated them well in my professional experience,” he added. “I have never been accused of forcing my beliefs on anyone. I have supported vulnerable individuals from all backgrounds, including [LGBTQ].”

In 2019, Ngole won a case against the University of Sheffield after the school attempted to remove him from their social work program due to his posting of his Biblical view of marriage and sexuality on Facebook.

Represented by the Christian Legal Centre, the legal arm of Christian Concern, Ngole has now brought a discrimination case against Touchstone Leeds, who recruited him for a job as a mental health support worker at a hospital in Wakefield, England. He was offered the job in May 2022, but the offer was reportedly withdrawn a month later when Touchstone discovered Ngole’s 2019 victory in a Google search.

Ngole was brought in for a second interview with Touchstone, during which he was interrogated about his religious beliefs, he said. He was told that unless he could embrace LGBTQ rights, the job would not go to him.

Brain found that Touchstone had breached Ngole’s rights to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and that Touchstone fell into the same error as the university had in rescinding the job offer.

However, Brain also said that while Touchstone’s original withdrawal of the offer was direct discrimination, “The reason why the job offer was not reinstated is [Ngole’s] performance in interview.” He went on to call Touchstone’s concerns “well-founded,” in that “others (in particular, service users) may come across his beliefs which may be harmful to their already vulnerable mental health.” He said that Ngole’s Biblical views might deter mentally ill people who identify as LGBTQ from receiving the health care services Touchstone offers, “risking [Touchstone’s] ability to perform their core health care functions and risking significant reputational damage.”

According to Christian Concern, Touchstone’s head of operations claimed during the trial that some who receive care from NHS might find even John 3:16 “triggering,” and that hearing views that disagree with LGBTQ ideology “could lead to death” for some patients.

“Judge Brain’s reasoning in this ruling is contorted,” said Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre. “Judge Brain argued that it was legitimate for Touchstone to discriminate against Felix for merely holding and expressing on social media a traditional Christian belief on marriage and sexuality because of the potential harm to people identifying as [LGBTQ].”

“This ruling opens up the reality of employers discriminating against and denying employment to anyone who does not celebrate and promote complete [LGBTQ] affirmation,” she added.

Ngole fled Cameroon and arrived in the U.K. in 2003, seeking political and religious freedom. “The [U.K.] is no longer the country I heard about all those years ago when fleeing Cameroon,” he said. “The [U.K.] then was a bastion of free speech and expression. I have no choice but to pursue justice again because if this is happening to me it will be happening to Christians and individuals from all beliefs and backgrounds across the country.”

Photo: Screenshot / Christian Concern

Subscribe to Decision Email Devotional

Subscribe to Decision Email Devotional

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

About Us     Contact Us     Privacy
©2024 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. BGEA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.