Aaron Edwards, a theology lecturer at Cliff College in Derbyshire, was fired in March for allegedly causing harm to the college's reputation with a post on his personal social media account.
"Homosexuality is invading the Church," he tweeted Feb. 19. "Evangelicals no longer see the severity of this b/c they're busy apologizing 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 Savior."
Edwards reportedly faced online abuse, suspension, and a threat of getting reported to a counter-terrorism program during the college's investigation and disciplinary hearing, which was led by the principal of Cliff College, Rev. Ashley Cooper, who supported the British Methodist Church's June 2021 decision to permit same-sex marriages in its places of worship.
John Lomperis, United Methodist director with the U.S.-based Institute on Religion & Democracy, says while he is not sure of the governance the British Methodist Church has over its colleges and universities, this issue is not an isolated one.
"From what I've heard about this story, it would seem to be part of a greater disturbing trend of cancel culture taking hold throughout the Western world, whereas anybody voices -- even privately as a private citizen -- any dissent from the new dogma of LGBTQ liberationist ideology and the way it keeps evolving, then activists are going to come for you, and they're going to try to destroy your career, destroy your livelihood, and try to make you suffer," Lomperis says.
Edwards insists that his post was not homophobic but a doctrinal statement addressed to Evangelicals. Still, Cliff College requested that he remove the tweet, citing a violation of its social media policy. He refused, believing it would compromise his conscience.
His lawsuit, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, cites harassment, discrimination, and unfair dismissal, and Edwards' legal team plans to argue that his rights under the European Convention of Human Rights were violated.
The case is scheduled for a full employment tribunal hearing in 2024.