Christians are now being punished for what others think

Facebook posts on transgender leads to sacking

A Christian school teacher, Kristie Higgs – who was dismissed over Facebook posts critical of transgenderism and sex education – has lost her case at a UK employment tribunal. Scottish pastor and Third Space director in Australia, David Robertson, responds.

At first glance, the Kristie Higgs case may not appear that important. “Christian Teacher sacked over Facebook posts loses discrimination case” is the kind of headline that some just skip with a shrug of the shoulders. “O look, another unwise Christian mouthing off unnecessarily, gets her comeuppance – what do you expect?” Others are all set to man the online barricades and retweet endless outrage to those who already agree with them.

Can I suggest we read beyond the headlines, avoid the judgementalism and instead consider the significance of this judgement.

Doubtless there are lots of things that can and will be said about Kristie – personally, I admire her courage and share the concern that she has lost her job for sharing an opinion which I and millions of others also hold. But I want to focus on one particular aspect of the judgement, which has profound implications for the future of the Church in the UK – and perhaps elsewhere.

The tribunal decided that Kristie was not sacked for her Christian beliefs. They also accepted that her beliefs were not transphobic or homophobic. The tribunal also rejected the view of a previous decision regarding Dr David Mackereth that “a lack of belief in transgenderism and conscientious objection to transgenderism are incompatible with human dignity and conflict with the fundamental rights of others and are not worthy of respect in a democratic society”. [NOTE: Mackereth, a GP, was sacked by the UK Department of Work and Pensions over identifying clients by their preferred gender. The implications of the tribunal finding quoted by Robertson has been extremely controversial, and has implications beyond Mackereth’s specific case]

So why did they still find against Kristie? Why did they agree that she had committed such ‘gross misconduct’ that she deserved to lose her job?

Let’s go back to the original post which Kristie shared. In October two years ago, Kristie shared a petition on her private Facebook page using her maiden name and not mentioning her employer.

She was concerned about her nine-year-old son being taught that gender is just a social construct and you can change your gender if you wish. She objected to the [recently introduced and] mandatory Religious and Sex Education [curriculum] which the government had determined was to be taught to children as young as four. She argued, correctly, that it was brainwashing.

Kristie was not dismissed for her beliefs but rather because of the beliefs of the school.

She was concerned about the impact of transgender ideology being taught to young children – a concern which is more than justified by the evidence becoming available which describes the harm that is being caused to children.

But an anonymous complainant went to the headteacher and described her posts as “homophobic and prejudiced to the LGBT community”. The headteacher is then reported to have asked the complainant to find more offensive posts. Kristie was subsequently investigated, suspended and fired. The panel which investigated her, said her views were “pro-Nazi” and she was told to “keep your religion out of it” when she tried to defend herself.

According to the tribunal, her dismissal “was the result of a genuine belief on the part of the school that she had committed gross misconduct”. Kristie was not dismissed for her beliefs but rather because of the beliefs of the school.

I have a genuine belief that the tribunal was being irrational, discriminatory and prejudiced by the criteria the tribunal uses, so that means they should find themselves guilty! Unless my belief is irrelevant, that is, and only some beliefs count.

It gets worse. The tribunal states that Mrs Higgs was found guilty of posting items on Facebook that “might reasonably lead people who read her posts to conclude that she was homophobic and transphobic”. Yet that same tribunal admitted that Mrs Higgs was not transphobic or homophobic, nor did they state that the posts themselves were transphobic or homophobic – just that some people might think they were, and thus they would cause upset.

That is why this ruling is so important. If this judgement is allowed to stand, it will mean two things. Firstly, the whole standard of law will now be changed. Guilt is now determined not upon evidence but simply upon the faith and feelings of the prosecuting party! Based on an anonymous complaint, a tribunal decided that a private post (which was not available to the public) was sufficient grounds for an employee to be fired. This means that anyone who finds what someone says to be potentially upsetting or offensive, now has the ability to get them fired. Objective evidence is irrelevant.

A society is emerging where pluralism is disappearing and along with it, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of thought.

Except it does not mean that. It does not mean that ANYONE who finds something offensive can get someone else fired. It just means that only certain approved and protected groups have the ability to use the law to enforce their views. I suspect that the school would not have fired a teacher who posted a message that I would find offensive about Christianity.

If this judgement stands, we will have lost the principle of ‘all are equal before the law’.

In the Brave New Britain, some are now more equal than others and a society is emerging where pluralism is disappearing and along with it, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of thought. State approved indoctrination within the schools is now going to be backed up by the law, which in effect bans all other points of view.

It is ironic that Mrs Higgs was accused of holding Nazi-like beliefs by a school which is using Nazi-like authoritarian methods (kangaroo courts, anonymous complainants, transgression of state ideology) to impose its own exclusive ideology.

Just think about this. In Britain, we have state-authorised indoctrination, which is now being enforced by a legal system which punishes you for daring to express a different point of view – even in private. Think and then pray that we would be delivered from this evil. Then act (write in support of Mrs Higgs to your MP, help her legal fund, ask your church leadership to speak up) – before it becomes illegal even to do that.

The church needs to be united on this and I realise how difficult that is when so many churches have sold out to progressive ideology. It speaks volumes that [UK Baptist Minister with liberal views on LGBT relationships] Steve Chalke, in light of this case, not only warned that churches who do not accept this ideology face prosecution, but also suggested that even expressing pastoral concern or praying for people with gender confusion or unwanted same-sex attraction was “psychologically abusive”.

In these times of moral confusion, those of us who love the Lord and want to stand on his word need to stick together.

David Robertson is director of Third Space in Sydney and blogs at The Wee Flea. This article first appeared at Christian Today. Reprinted with permission.

The Employment Tribunal Judgement is here.

*Eternity has added explainers in square brackets.

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