Celestina Mba on her Sunday working case
Celestina Mba was dismissed in 2009 from her job as a care worker at a children's home run by Merton Council. Her dismissal was upheld by employment tribunals and today the Court of Appeal decided against forcing Merton Council to reinstate Mrs Mba, but in an important ruling, the judge concluded that Christians have a right to observe Sundays as a day of rest. She has since managed to find a new job as manager of a care support unit for young girls who have become pregnant, and their children. In this interview, Mrs Mba talks about how she feels about the outcome of her case.
CT: What is your overall reaction to today's judgement?
CM: I feel that so much ground has been gained today, because it has actually been acknowledged that Sunday is a core component of a Christian's belief - the choice to worship on a Sunday, the choice to honour God's word, the command that he gave us.
CT: So you feel that this ground is more important than overturning your initial dismissal?
CM: For me, this is a step forward, and it enables Christians to stand for what they believe without fear. For me, that is a step forward.
CT: Going back to the initial employment tribunal decision, when they said that Sunday observance was not a core component of the Christian faith, what was your initial reaction to that?
CM: Well I was initially surprised. That people in the tribunal did not know what the core components of Christian values are. I would have thought that for someone to make a judgement, you need to collect the facts and the truth.
CT: Do you have any plans to further appeal the initial dismissal?
CM: For the moment, we are considering it. I will be speaking to my lawyers and all the people that are supporting me. Because the Appeal Court has said there was an error in law, that actually gives us a certain standing. That's something we can look into and then make decisions about what we are going to do next.
CT: Do you see this as a sea change overall?
CM: I believe that it is establishing a principle that we can stand on, and from there we can see the sea of change move.
CT: How has your Christian community been supporting you during the progression of this case?
CM: There are so many people supporting me in prayer. The Christian Legal Centre are wonderful. They have been a rock. Also, there have been so many people that have been supporting and donating, and praying into this ministry, because it is a ministry. It's a ministry that stands for God to see his will and his purposes established in this country.
I think we have forgotten the values and foundations that the forefathers gave to us. We dig the well that was stuffed up, to borrow a phrase from the Bible. The well that was dug for us by the Wesleys and all those people, great Christians in British history. That well has been stuffed up. This is an awakening for us to dig those wells, to arise and to stand up, and shine.
CT: Has your experience encouraged you to begin taking up any activism in other cases with Christians in similar situations?
CM: My experience has led me to encourage others to give support to the Christian Legal Centre. Financially, in prayer, and any way you can. In supporting them we are all standing taller for Jesus. The more we stand, the more we can further the kingdom of God and establish his rule.
CT: Do you think this ruling has given Christians more security in terms of where you work in the future?
CM: Christians should always be proud of their heritage and the gift that they've been given. This is can give them the confidence to stand up for what they believe in. I hope it encourages them to stand up for what they believe in, because it is Judeo-Christian values that the law of this land has been based upon. And if you look at it and follow those laws, we empower ourselves and we empower others.
CT: Finally, you mentioned earlier you are considering a further appeal. What would you hope to achieve through that?
CM: Well we are still considering it, so I can't really say on what it is going to be based. When we make our decisions, I will be able to share the answer to that question.