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Christian Lecturer Launches Legal Action For Unfair Dismissal, Threats To Label Him As ‘Terrorist’ For Biblical Tweet

A Christian theology lecturer with five young children has launched legal action after being sacked and threatened with a Counter-Terrorism referral, by a professedly evangelical Methodist Bible college, for a tweet on human sexuality.

In March 2023, Dr Aaron Edwards, 37, who is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, was sacked for alleged misconduct by Cliff College in Derbyshire for ‘bringing the college into disrepute‘ on Twitter (now called X).

The CEO of Twitter/X, Elon Musk, announced recently that he would support any user treated unfairly by their employer for posting or liking something on the platform.

On 19 February, Dr Edwards posted: “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.”

Following the tweet, Dr Edwards was abused online, suspended by Cliff College and threatened with being reported to Prevent during an investigation and subsequent hearing.

The college has since tried to deny the Counter-Terrorism threat, despite minutes during the disciplinary hearing/investigation revealing the intimidation tactics used by college bosses.

During the disciplinary hearings, Dr Edwards was also interrogated on how he would pray for same-sex attracted students who approach him for prayer.

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He believes as a result of the sacking and subsequent controversy that he might not be able to work in UK higher education again.

Dr Edwards is now launching legal action against Cliff College on the grounds of harassment, discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Lawyers representing him will argue that the college unlawfully interfered with his rights under Article 9 and/or Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

Dr Edwards will be seeking damages for unfair dismissal, and compensation under the Equality Act 2010. A full employment tribunal hearing is expected in 2024.

Academic and Christian freedom

Launching the claim, Dr Edwards, whose role at Cliff College was to teach students to preach, has said that: “Anyone concerned about academic freedom, Christian freedoms and free speech should be deeply concerned by what has happened to me.

The reaction to my tweet and the unjust treatment I have experienced by Cliff College and the Methodist Church in Britain completely illustrates the problem my tweet addressed.

The tweet was not defamatory; it was not an attack on any colleague or individual; it was not abusive; and it was not an extremist religious view. It was addressed to evangelicals as a point of doctrine, and it has been misunderstood by many who wish to cause personal and institutional trouble for those who express that view.

The impact on me and my family has been very significant. I have lost many friends as a result, and been slandered by people who do not know all of the details but who now see me as an unkind or hateful person.

“At the time of the suspension and dismissal I also suffered severe physical stress, culminating in symptoms of cardiac arrest. This sometimes returns, especially when I reflect on the events again. Re-reading the correspondence from the college and the various comments, is something I still find difficult as it brings it all up again. It feels like everything I worked for at the college (and for the college) over the last 7 years has gone up in smoke.

“It has, of course, been a tremendous upheaval for my homeschooled family too, given that we lived in the vicinity of the college in order to serve the college, and are now uprooted in more ways than one. At the homeschool co-op that meets every few weeks, there is a slot at these meetings where a father of one of the families comes and does a presentation about “their job”.

“I know I am unable to do that because the career that I had built over the course of a decade has been severely damaged to the extent that I no longer have a career. This is why the only way forward I can see is to pioneer something new, the uncertainty of which brings its own challenges and stresses.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “A Christian theologian working for a Christian Bible college tweeting about the biblical Christian teaching on human sexuality, has been sacked and labelled as a potential ‘terrorist.’

This is an intelligent, learned, respected, father of five children who has been kicked out of a Bible college for expressing views and beliefs shared by millions of Christians across the globe.

The Bible is clear that homosexual practice is sinful. Dr Edwards is right that if sin is no longer sin, we no longer need Jesus as our Saviour.

God’s plan for sex is one man and one woman marriage. Every Christian should be ready to believe that God’s pattern for our lives is the best way for individuals and society to flourish. Every church denomination – including Methodists and the Church of England – should confidently proclaim this vision, rather than mirror the zeitgeist.

Christian Concern is a UK advocacy group of the Christian Legal Centre which works to safeguard the freedom of Christians to live and speak for Jesus Christ, and to provide legal support for those taking a stand for Jesus.

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