LONDON (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Christian university student is being expelled for defending biblical marriage on social media.
A British High Court ruled Friday that Felix Ngole, a University of Sheffield postgraduate scholar, could be lawfully dismissed for expressing "derogatory" views on same-sex marriage.
In 2015, Ngole came to the defense of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk jailed for refusing to license same-sex "marriages" in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision.
Davis, he argued, was suffering persecution for simply maintaining the "Biblical view of same-sex marriage as a sin."
"Same-sex marriage is a sin whether we like it or not," he wrote. "It is God's words, and man's sentiments would not change His words."
Ngole's comments were reported, and several weeks later, he was summoned to a university hearing.
The school panel investigating the "incident" ruled his comments were "derogatory of gay men and bisexuals" and dismissed him from his study program.
Ngole chose to fight the ruling. Enlisting the help of the Christian Legal Centre, his team sought to overturn the panel's decision by arguing the university had violated his freedoms of speech and thought.
University lawyers countered that in expressing his Christian views publicly, Ngole had demonstrated "no insight" and was therefore unfit to practice social work.
The court found that Ngole was entitled to his religious beliefs but ruled that he erred in expressing them publicly, as they could "damage" people by causing offense.
Judge Collins Rice ruled against him, declaring the university acted lawfully in removing him from his course of study.
"Public religious speech has to be looked at in a regulated context from the perspective of a public readership," declared Rice.
Ngole's comments, he said, "could be accessed and read by people who would perceive them as judgemental, incompatible with service ethos or suggestive of discriminatory intent. ... But whatever the actual intention was, it was the perception of the posting that would cause the damage. It was reasonable to be concerned about that perception."
After the ruling, Ngole said he was "very disappointed" and intends to appeal.
Christian Legal Centre chief executive Andrea Williams echoed his disappointment.
"The court has ruled that though Felix is entitled to hold his Biblical views on sexual ethics, he is not entitled to express them," she noted, highlighting the ruling's inconsistencies. "But freedom to believe without freedom of expression is no freedom at all."
She noted the decision "flies in the face" of the government's declared intent to promote free speech at the nation's universities.
"This ruling comes after Jo Johnson, the universities minister, last week criticised universities for failing to protect freedom of speech. He said. 'Freedom of speech is a fundamentally British value which is undermined by a reluctance of institutions to embrace healthy vigorous debate. Our universities must open minds not close them.'"
Williams said the ruling also represents a cause for deeper concern. "Rulings like this show that society is becoming increasingly intolerant of Christian moral values," she warned. "Christians are being told to shut up and keep quiet about their moral views or face a bar from employment."
"No democratic society can function without freedom of expression," Williams added. "This ruling shakes the foundations of freedom in our society."