Christian Student in U.K. Wins Appeals Court Ruling After Declared 'Unfit' to Practice Social Work by University
(Worthy News) - A Christian student at the University of Sheffield in the U.K., who was dropped from his MA program for a Facebook post defending traditional marriage in 2016, won his court of appeals complaint this week following a high court decision in 2017 that originally supported the university’s decision.
Felix Ngole, who was attempting to qualify as a social worker in the U.K., was brought before a University of Sheffield Fitness to Practice (FTP) Committee for his post in an online debate about Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who had refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
A spokeswoman for the University of Sheffield explained the school’s decision by saying free speech conflicted with the fitness to practice guidelines of Ngole’s chosen profession.
"The University of Sheffield supports the rights of students to hold and debate a wide range of views and beliefs,” she said, but “fitness to practice committees use national professional guidance and often need to consider a student's insight and consideration about their chosen profession.”
"This case was therefore not part of the university's standard disciplinary procedures or about its support of freedom of speech,” she explained.
Chief executive Andrea Minichiello Williams of the Christian Legal Center, who represented Ngole’s case before the high court in 2017, said the decision ultimately meant Christians would be disbarred from other social and legal professions for their views.
"For religious people who believe now what most people used to believe, it can be a bar to office," Williams noted at the time.
Ngole himself was optimistic about the ruling by appeal court justices Irwin, Haddon-Cave and Beatson this week.
"As Christians, we are called to serve others and to care for everyone,” he said, sharing that four years of his life had been unceremoniously robbed from him for a private discussion.
“Yet publicly and privately we must also be free to express our beliefs and what the Bible says without fear of losing our livelihoods."