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The fight for religious freedoms in England and California


Credit: Javier Gonzalez/www.pexels.com/Creative Commons

We live in interesting times.

In 2016, the University of Sheffield in England kicked Felix Ngole out of its program because of a 2015 Facebook discussion. Ngole, a Christian, was attending post-graduate courses at the university with the intent of becoming a social worker.

The Facebook thread involved a discussion of same-sex marriage and Ngole shared some Bible verses revealing his support of traditional marriage. A few months later an anonymous person made a complaint to the University of Sheffield who responded by kicking Ngole out of its program stating that he could not share his personal Christian opinions while attending the university.

In fact, the university told Ngole he wouldn’t even be allowed to share his views off campus and that included in churches.

But Ngole decided to fight this decision. Represented by Paul Diamond, an attorney who specializes in defending religious liberties, Ngole took the university to court. Though Ngole lost his initial court case, this past June, a three judge Court of Appeals ruled in Ngole’s favor stating:

“The mere expression of religious views about sin does not necessarily connote discrimination.”

The fundamental issue is do Christians still have the freedom to express their views in society and can we disagree without discriminating? According to the British Court of Appeals they do and can.

But that victory starkly contrasts recent events in California, where a motion passed the state assembly requesting pastors to “affirm” homosexuality. The legislation, ACR 99, which must still pass through the state senate does not “require” pastors to affirm ,homosexuality but asks them to so even if it contravenes their religious beliefs.

The legislation is effectively telling pastors and church counselors if a person comes to them  seeking help for same-sex attraction, churches should affirm the lifestyle rather than helping the individual change, even if that is what the person desires. And by insinuation is telling churches what they should preach from the pulpit.

However, what some consider equally concerning is that Dr. Kevin Mannoia, the former leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, has publicly supported the legislation and even made a presentation to legislature’s judiciary committee along those lines. Mannoia currently serves as chaplain for Azusa Pacific University, an evangelical Christian college.

In response to a request for comment, Mannoia told Christian Post:

“To clarify, I did not speak on behalf of Azusa Pacific University at the committee hearing. I represented a handful of pastors that have been seeking to change the tone of the conversation. We have not altered our belief in the biblical view on human sexuality and that LGBT is not God’s plan. We are thankful that this non-binding resolution successfully averted the passing of a restrictive law that would have hindered pastoral ministry to people struggling with sexual identity who come to our churches.”

However, according to Liberty Counsel, a legal nonprofit dedicated to preserving religious freedom in the US, Mannoia  “has become a prop for the LGBT agenda by directing pastors and counselors to reject Biblical views of sexuality and deny counseling for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion.”

Though the legislation at this point does not “require” pastors to affirm homosexuality, Liberty Counsel’s Roger Gannam noted:

“It’s a foreshadowing of worse things to come.”

Sources:

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