Father-of-five and Christian theology lecturer Aaron Edwards is launching legal action after he was sacked by a Methodist Bible college for tweeting his Biblical perspective on homosexuality.
Cliff College, a well-known Methodist training centre in Derbyshire, professes to have an evangelical foundation but said Dr Edwards had brought the institution ‘into disrepute’.
He'd received a backlash online after publishing a post on Twitter (now called ‘X’) in February, which read: “Homosexuality is invading the Church. Evangelicals no longer see the severity of this b/c they’re busy apologising for their apparently barbaric homophobia, whether or not it’s true. This *is* a “Gospel issue”, by the way. If sin is no longer sin, we no longer need a Saviour.”
The following month he was dismissed. His lawyers say minutes from a disciplinary meeting at the time suggest he was subjected to intimidation and threatened with being reported under ‘Counter-Terrorism’ guidance, although the college denies this.
He’s now launching legal action against Cliff College, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, on a claim of harassment, discrimination and unfair dismissal.
Speaking of the abuse he received, Dr Edwards said: “The tweet was not defamatory; it was not an attack on any colleague or individual; it was not abusive; and it was not an extremist religious view. It was addressed to evangelicals as a point of doctrine, and it has been misunderstood by many who wish to cause personal and institutional trouble for those who express that view.
“The impact on me and my family has been very significant. I have lost many friends as a result, and been slandered by people who do not know all of the details but who now see me as an unkind or hateful person.”
He said he has suffered severe physical stress as a result of the handling of events by college administrators, including symptoms of cardiac arrest. He said he still finds it hard to re-read and remember some of the communication between him and the college.
In a statement to Premier in relation to the legal action, a spokesperson for Cliff College said: "Given the ongoing litigation issued by Dr Edwards, the College does not believe that it is appropriate to comment on the allegations that he or his representatives have raised."
In a previous statement about the tweet earlier this year, the college said: “The language used is inappropriate and unacceptable and does not represent either the views or the ethos of Cliff College.
“Cliff College, with the Methodist Church in Britain, is committed to being a safe and hospitable place, where those with differing convictions are welcomed and challenged to live together as faithful disciples of Christ.
“We aim to do this with mutual respect and a generosity of spirit that springs from our biblical and evangelical conviction of God's love for each and for all.”
Earlier this year, Elon Musk, who now owns the social media platform, offered to fund the legal bills of anyone who posted or liked something on ‘X’ and was treated unfairly by their workplace as a result. The billionaire and entrepreneur said his financial assistance in such cases would have “no limits”.
An employment tribunal is expected to get underway in 2024.