From receiving violent death threats, being falsely labeled as a child molester and having his own funeral arranged for him, to losing his job as a school caretaker—pastor Keith Waters has faced his share of trials since speaking up for Biblical truth on Twitter. Months later, he’s standing for Christian freedoms and taking legal action against the school that hounded him out of his job.
As a pastor, Waters is rarely troubled by criticism. “I’m used to it,” the 53-year-old said.
But the events that followed his tweet were beyond what he could have ever imagined.
On Saturday evening, June 1, 2019, Waters posted the following on Twitter:
“A reminder that Christians should not support or attend LGBTQ ‘Pride month’ events held in June. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Christian faith and morals. They are especially harmful to children.”
Ely, Cambridgeshire, the pastor’s resident city, was due to host its first-ever Pride event last June. With the growing popularity of the parades, Waters felt compelled to address Christians about the overtly sexual nature of the events—which often involve various degrees of nudity, sadomasochism and other explicit displays of sexual deviancy.
Within minutes of sending the tweet, Waters was bombarded with accusations that he was attacking the LGBTQ community. A journalist reached out, asking him to apologize for his statement. Waters refused.
In less than 48 hours, he became the front-page story of the Cambridge News.
A flood of abuse followed. A false rumor circulated that he was a child molester. A neighbor made a violent attempt to knock him off his bike. Others tried to sell his house. They even arranged a funeral for him. Some approached the landlord of the building their church rented and asked if they were “fit tenants.” A local government official called on the police to launch an investigation against him, calling his tweet a hate crime.
Fearing for his family’s safety, Waters decided to delete the tweet. But still today, despite facing mountains, he maintains the validity of his message: that gay Pride events are harmful for children and go against the teachings of the Bible.
“I still stand by what I said, and I’ll always stand up for the truth,” the pastor said. “I believe that the children’s safety is paramount. I also have a right to address Christians about this issue.”
With more than 1.5 million people attending the London Pride event last year, there is a growing concern for the well-being of minors who are exposed to the sexually explicit nature of the event.
“It seems to me that one of the key aims of the LGBTQ agenda is to affect and influence children’s lives,” Waters said.
Despite the abundance of psychological studies concluding that children exposed to sexually explicit content at an early age are more likely to develop sexual violence disorders, behavioral disorders and addictions, there’s also a slew of articles online encouraging parents to bring their children to Pride parades.
Hence, Waters, the pastor of New Connexions Free Church in Ely, opted to plead with fellow Christians online.
“As a pastor and school caretaker, I want to uphold the love, care and safeguarding of the children,” he said.
Besides facing nationwide opposition for his tweet, his role as a school caretaker also came under threat.
Waters had taken a 60% pay cut as an estates manager to become a pastor for a small church, a role that he would combine alongside his caretaker role at a local Ely primary school.
Following the tweet, the school’s head teacher told Waters that he was under investigation for bringing the school “into disrepute” after receiving a handful of complaints from LGBTQ activists and even parents.
One letter labeled the pastor an extremist, while another said he should be fired for being a bad influence on the children.
Waters said what struck him the most was that people fear speaking out like he did—even non-Christians who do not agree with the LGBTQ rhetoric.
“I had lots of parents pulling me to the side telling me that they support me, but they wouldn’t dare say so out of fear that the same thing would happen to them,” he explained.
During a disciplinary meeting, Waters was told it was likely that he’d be dismissed or handed a final warning if he continued to put the school into disrepute. At that point, he said he felt like he had no other option but to resign.
“Being given a final warning meant that I would not be able to do the things I do as a pastor, which is standing up for the truth of the Bible. So it’s clear that I couldn’t remain in the post,” Waters explained. “But it wasn’t a hard decision. I’m a servant of the Lord first. Focusing on ministry has always been the most important thing.”
Waters is now working alongside Christian Concern, a U.K. legal aid group taking action against the school for constructive dismissal, indirect discrimination and breach of public sector equality duty.
“I’m not doing this because I want to sue the school, but because it’s the right thing to do,” Waters said. “As far as I know, I’m the first pastor this has happened to. But it could easily happen again.”
Waters believes that Christian freedom is not merely under threat in the U.K.—it’s gone beyond that.
“Now we’re at a point where we’re trying to claw back our rights to freedom of expression,” he explained. “I want to spread the word that we need to be speaking up and standing boldly for the Bible with a huge amount of compassion.”
Jesus told His disciples: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).
So while Waters waits for his tribunal hearing date to be set, he wants to encourage pastors across the nation to stand firm on the rock of Christ when in the midst of a battle.
“You’ll find that if you walk the Lord’s way, then He’s there with you,” Waters said. “He asks us to be in the world, but not of the world. We already have a captain that has gone ahead of us in the battle—all He asks is for us to get on with it. And this battle I’m going through is one that is vital for the society of the United Kingdom.”
The Scripture quotation is taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.
Photo: Courtesy of Christian Concern