UK Pastor Was Victim of Indirect Religious Discrimination at School, Tribunal Rules

“Beliefs which are offensive, shocking or even disturbing to others can still be protected” in a democratic society, wrote Judge Sarah King of the Cambridge Employment Tribunal in her ruling in favor of a pastor who was forced out of his job at Isle of Ely Primary School in Ely, Cambridgeshire. Keith Waters, the 55-year-old husband, father, and evangelical pastor at New Connexions Free Church, was working as a maintenance man at the school when in June 2019 he tweeted out to his social media followers:

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.

The tweet was posted right before Ely’s first ever “Pride” celebration. Afterwards, the liberal cancel culture activists in his town labeled him “homophobic” and unleashed a campaign of harassment against Waters for expressing views that didn’t line up with their preferences. Activists wrote three letters of complaint to his employers, including one letter falsely accusing him of promoting violence against “Pride” supporters. Administrators running the school where he worked joined in with the harassment. Waters felt he had no other recourse than to resign the day before the school planned to drag him into a disciplinary hearing.

Waters subsequently hired the Christian Legal Centre to represent him in a lawsuit against the school. They accused the school of several rights violations relating to Waters’s beliefs and religion. In the end, the Employment Tribunal ruled that although the school was well within their rights to conduct an investigation into the complaints and did so in a fair manner, Waters was still the victim of “indirect discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief.” The court came to this conclusion after Waters demonstrated his beliefs were sincere, weren’t meant to stir up violence, were characteristic of many Christians who hold the same views, and were shared outside of work in a manner that could not link him to the school in any way.

Upon hearing the decision, Waters stated that it’s “an important win for our freedom to speak the truth of the gospel without fear of losing our jobs. I took legal action, not because I wanted to sue the school but because what happens to me goes to the heart of what it means to be free to preach the gospel in the UK.” The court will decide his compensation at a later date.

Sources:

Andrew Levy, DailyMail.co.uk, 29 April 2022.

Alex Collett, PremierChristian.news, 29 April 2022.

Christian Legal Centre, ChristianConcern.com, 29 April 2022.

Christian Legal Centre, Cambridge Employment Tribunal Judgment, 22 April 2022.

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