Social work: no place for Christians

Mar 20, 2019 by

by Ken McLaughlin, spiked:

Felix Ngole was thrown off a social-work course because of his religious beliefs.

In 2015, Felix Ngole, a devout Christian and an opponent of gay marriage, declared on Facebook that ‘the Bible and God identify homosexuality as a sin’, adding that ‘same-sex marriage is a sin whether we like it or not. It is God’s words and man’s sentiments would not change His words.’ Ngole, who was 36 at the time, had posted the comments during a debate about the refusal of Kim Davis, a US state official in Kentucky, to register same-sex marriages.

Such sentiments are not uncommon among Christians (or indeed adherents of other religions). And Ngole’s Facebook post would normally have soon been forgotten. But, at the time, Ngole was also a social-work student at the University of Sheffield. The university subsequently launched an inquiry, before removing him from the course on the grounds that he had posted comments on a public forum that were ‘derogatory of gay men and bisexuals’.

In 2017, Ngole took his case to the High Court but lost, with the judge declaring: ‘Public religious speech has to be looked at in a regulated context from the perspective of a public readership. Social workers have considerable power over the lives of vulnerable service users and trust is a precious professional commodity.’ The judge added that, ‘Universities also have a wide range of interests in and responsibilities for their students – academic, social and pastoral. Where, as Sheffield does, they aspire to be welcoming environments for students from a diverse range of backgrounds, they must expect to be inclusive and supportive of that diversity.’

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