After several years as a theology lecturer at Cliff College in the United Kingdom, Dr. Aaron Edwards was fired from his position one month after he posted a controversial statement about homosexuality on social media. In response to his dismissal and treatment by the college, Edwards has recently begun legal action, claiming his rights were violated.
“Anyone concerned about academic freedom, Christian freedoms and free speech should be deeply concerned by what has happened to me,” Edwards told Christian Concern.
Theology Lecturer Dr. Aaron Edwards Takes Legal Action After ‘Unjust’ Dismissal
The controversial social media post, which Edwards authored in February, was said to bring the college into “disrepute,” according to The Christian Post. Cliff College put Edwards on a leave of absence while it conducted an investigation. After a month, Edwards was dismissed from the school.
According to Christian Concern, after the social media post, “Dr. Edwards was abused online, suspended by Cliff College and threatened with being reported to Prevent during an investigation and subsequent hearing.”
Christian Legal Centre, which is the legal arm of Christian Concern and which is representing Edwards, said the legal team will argue that Edwards’ “rights under the European Convention of Human Rights were violated.”
Edwards, 37, is a husband and father to five young children. “The impact on me and my family has been very significant,” Edwards told Christian Concern. “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.”
Following his dismissal, Edwards set up a crowdfunding project to support his family as he plans to write new projects in “shamelessly Biblical theological education.” In less than two months, 400 supporters helped him reach the £50,000 goal.
Edwards further explained, “The reaction to my tweet and the unjust treatment I have experienced by Cliff College and the Methodist Church in Britain completely illustrates the problem my tweet addressed.”
“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,” he continued. “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.”
Cliff College has denied accusations made by Edwards that the school terrorized him during its investigations. However, according to Christian Concern, the minutes from the disciplinary hearing suggest otherwise. A review of the minutes revealed “the intimidation tactics used by college bosses.”
A full employment tribunal hearing is expected in 2024 to address Edwards’ claims of damages and unfair dismissal.