A U.K. court has ruled that the University of Sheffield’s decision to expel a Christian student over his comments on homosexuality is legal.
The controversy started two years ago when devout Christian student Felix Ngole of Barnsley, South Yorkshire was in his second year studying for his master's degree. Around this time, the Kim Davis controversy — in which a Christian county clerk was sent to jail after refusing to hand out Kentucky state licenses for same-sex marriages - was unfolding on the international stage. Ngole expressed his opinion on the matter in a Facebook post, declaring, “I stand with Kim Davis.”
Ngole also posted that he believes "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." The 39-year-old student also added that "the Bible and God identify homosexuality as a sin."
After expressing his religious viewpoints online, university administrators prevented Ngole from finishing his master's degree.
The University of Sheffield stated that the remarks made by Ngole on his personal Facebook account were “derogatory of gay men and bisexuals.” Subsequently, Ngole was immediately expelled for his comments and removed from the two-year postgraduate program.
Andrea Williams, Ngole’s representing attorney, as well as chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, issued a statement:
"The court has ruled that though Mr. Ngole is entitled to hold his Biblical views on sexual ethics, he is not entitled to express them. But freedom to believe without freedom of expression is no freedom at all. Many views are frequently expressed by students on social media and in other contexts. It is the expression of Biblical morality that has been singled out for sanction by the university. This ruling will have a chilling effect on Christian students up and down the country who will now understand that their personal social media posts may be investigated for political correctness."
The court’s decision speaks volumes about the state of freedom of speech on college campuses, not just in the U.S. but in other western countries as well. To add insult to injury, the college apparently isn’t just concerned about comments students express vocally on campus, but even religious beliefs they may post online.
"Unless the views you express are politically correct, you may be barred from office. This is very far from how a free and fair society should operate," Ngole stated.
“Rulings like this show that society is becoming increasingly intolerant of Christian moral values,” Williams added in the statement. “Christians are being told to shut up and keep quiet about their moral views or face a bar from employment.”
Ngole argues that he was simply making a “genuine contribution” to a vexed public discussion. On the same token, he added that he was “entitled to express his religious views.”
On the contrary, the university disagreed stating that because Ngole was pursuing a professional qualification centered around social work, they had to take into account his “fitness to practice.”
Ngole will appeal the ruling, with the assistance of his attorney, in an “effort to protect basic freedoms in our society.”
“No democratic society can function without freedom of expression. This ruling shakes the foundations of freedom in our society,” Williams concluded.
Isaiah Denby is a college freshman from Tampa Bay, Florida studying economics and political science.