Felix Ngole: Persecuted for traditional marriage views
A recent UK court decision upheld the decision of University authorities to remove student Felix Ngole from a post-graduate Social Work course because of views he had expressed in a public social media forum about the Biblical view on homosexuality.
Felix Ngole, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, said he was expressing a traditional Christian view and complained that university bosses unfairly stopped him completing a postgraduate degree.
But Deputy High Court judge Rowena Collins Rice has ruled that university bosses acted within the law following a High Court trial in London.
Mr Ngole had argued that his rights to freedom of speech and thought, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, had been breached.
But lawyers representing the university argued that he showed ”no insight” and said the decision to remove him from the course was fair and proportionate.
They said Mr Ngole had been studying for a professional qualification, adding that university bosses had to consider his fitness to practise.
Judge Collins Rice said freedom of religious discourse was a public good of great importance.
But she said social workers had considerable power over the lives of vulnerable people and said trust was a precious professional commodity.
She said that after weighing the facts of this case she decided to dismiss Mr Ngole’s claim for judicial review.
He was taking part in an debate on a Facebook page about Kim Davis, a state official in the US state of Kentucky, who refused to register same-sex marriages.
Mr Ngole posted comments two years ago, when in his late 30s, the judge had been told. Mr Ngole said he had argued that Mrs Davis’s position was based on the “Biblical view of same-sex marriage as a sin”.
He said he was making a “genuine contribution” to an important public debate and said he was “entitled to express his religious views”.
University bosses said he had posted comments on a publicly accessible Facebook page which were “derogatory of gay men and bisexuals”.
Deputy High Court Judge Ms Rowena Collins Rice commenting on Mr Ngole’s remarks said:
His first post was to the effect that same-sex marriage was a sin. Challenged by another poster to demonstrate that the Bible said so, he responded by citing a number of Biblical passages. The public website conversation continued at some length, with a number of contributors, and Mr Ngole contributed around twenty or so very short posts before withdrawing from it. Among the posts was a reference to same-sex marriage as detestable to God; an observation that Homosexuality is a sin, no matter how you want to dress it up; a post including the devil has hijacked the constitution of the USA. This is a country that was built on the values of Christianity. Now it’s worse than a country worshipping idols; quotations from the Biblical book of Leviticus describing same-sex sexual relations as an abomination; other Biblical quotations on the subject; general references to the Bible as condemning ‘homosexuality’; an observation that It is a wicked act and God hates the act; God hates sin and not man; and an observation that He will also judge all those who indulged in all forms of wicked act such as homosexuality.
Australian law expert Dr Neil Foster believes Mr Ngole did not express the contempt the University implied he possessed.
“It is possible that some or all of these comments could have made with more sensitivity,” Dr Foster wrote in a recent blog post.
“But Mr Ngole had been asked by someone else to explain the Bible’s views on the matter, and the language he used seems to have been drawn from the Bible. He was posting in a public forum, not in any way associated with his professional training as a social worker, or in any way which would obviously suggest that his personal views would lead to him showing hatred towards, or discrimination against, same-sex attracted person. Indeed, the various committees all commented that there was no evidence showing that Mr Ngole had, in his personal interactions, showed any animosity or contempt for same sex attracted persons,” added Dr Foster.
Mr Ngole said his motivation is to lovingly declare the truth.
“My passion is to love everyone regardless of their race, sexuality or gender. I want to love everyone just as Christ loves them, but also to proclaim His truth,” he said.
“This is what I was doing during the Facebook discussion that I took part in. When I was advised that what I had done was against the policy I knew I had to defend the word of God. I was convinced I had done the right thing by answering a question from someone who wanted to know if homosexuality was a sin and what the Bible said about it.
“When I was finally dismissed from the course I did not waiver because I knew this is bigger than me. This is about Christians being able to take part in a lawful debate.
“I have had to declare in every job application that I was expelled from the University of Sheffield for taking part in a debate in support of traditional marriage. I have left a job during the course of this case because I felt isolated and victimised because of my beliefs. My family has been affected by this experience but we continue to trust God who has been looking after us. I believe victory belongs to Jesus. He has used this case to make clear his will for us, that Christians do not have to be afraid to speak the truth as this is the only thing that will set people free.
“It is because of love and not hate that we share the Word of God. I don’t think I have lost the case at all because right now this very important issue is being discussed throughout the world for his glory. The word of God was also read in court and as a result it has been recorded for future reference. The body of Christ continues to unite in prayer in one accord because of today’s verdict. Clearly traditional Christian beliefs are being censored by our government.”
Read Neil Foster’s full analysis here.