Professor Fired Over Tweet Files Lawsuit

Professor Fired Over Tweet Files Lawsuit

Aaron Edwards, a former theology lecturer at Cliff College in Derbyshire, England, has filed a lawsuit against the school for firing him over a tweet expressing his Biblical views on sexuality.

Edwards is being supported by Christian Legal Centre (CLC), the legal arm of London-based Christian Concern. They plan to argue for his rights under Articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which purport to protect freedom of thought, conscience, religion and expression. Edwards claims that he has been harassed, discriminated against and dismissed unfairly from his professorship. He will seek damages and compensation under the Equality Act 2010.

Edwards was a professor at the British Methodist-affiliated college for seven years. Recent years have seen an increase of evangelicals becoming more accepting of LGBTQ ideology. Edwards saw this shift and had warned his peers of its dangers. In his words, he “never really imagined that (he) was going to be the fall guy.”

On Feb. 19, Edwards tweeted:

“Homosexuality is invading the Church.

“Evangelicals no longer see the severity of this b/c they’re busy apologising for their apparently barbaric homophobia, whether or not it’s true.

“This *is* a ‘Gospel issue,’ by the way. If sin is no longer sin, we no longer need a Saviour.”

Edwards was hardly surprised by the online backlash he received, but he could not have expected the extent of the consequences. Within a few days of the tweet, he was suspended by his superiors at Cliff, and then fired on March 8 for allegedly bringing the school into “disrepute.” The school’s officials threatened to report him to Prevent, the U.K.’s anti-terrorism watchdog, and he was evicted by his landlord.

Edwards expressed concern that because of all of this, he may not be able to work in higher education in the U.K. again. “It feels like everything I worked for at the college (and for the college) over the last seven years has gone up in smoke,” Edwards said to CLC. “The career that I had built over the course of a decade has been severely damaged to the point that I no longer have a career.” Edwards is the father of five homeschooled children, and these events have dramatically uprooted his entire family.

Traditionally, the Methodist Church in Britain affirmed the Biblical view that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman exclusively. However, in 2021, the church government decided to allow same-sex marriage in British Methodist churches. Church leaders and members are pressured to affirm same-sex marriages across the denomination and, as is obvious in Edwards’ case, are likely to be canceled and mistreated when they do not.

On the same day as Edwards’ tweet, Cliff College tweeted a thread calling Edwards’ language “inappropriate and unacceptable,” and clarified that his tweet “does not represent either the views or the ethos of Cliff College.” It goes on to state that Cliff College is committed to being a “safe and hospitable place” that welcomes people with differing convictions. “We aim to do this with mutual respect and a generosity of spirit that springs from our biblical and evangelical conviction of God’s love for each and for all.”

Following these tweets is a string of replies including many in favor of Edwards, confronting the school for not “welcoming” his differing opinion as they claim they would.

Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern and CLC, said that they see a high-profile case for freedom of speech, religion and expression about every week when it comes to questioning LGBTQ ideology and other issues, such as buffer zones around abortion clinics. CLC has to pass on most of the many potential cases that come their way every year.

“It is saddening and very concerning to see the Methodist Church, and a once renowned Bible college, lose its way by no longer upholding marriage as God defines it, or supporting those who express it,” said Williams, who grew up in the Methodist Church. “This story sets a dark precedent for the Methodist Church going forward and also serves as a warning to the Church of England.”

Edwards told CLC that what has happened to him should concern “anyone concerned about academic freedom, Christian freedoms and free speech.”

Photo: Christian Concern

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