Sacked Christian lecturer defends homosexuality comments at tribunal

Dr Aaron Edwards, 37, worked for Cliff College for seven years prior to his dismissal.(Photo: The Christian Legal Centre)

A Christian lecturer sacked by a Bible college over social media comments about homosexuality has told a tribunal that the public expression of his beliefs are "academically defensible".

Dr Aaron Edwards lost his job after seven years as a lecturer with Cliff College, a Methodist training college in Derbyshire, over comments he posted on social media last year.

His tweet read, "Homosexuality is invading the Church. Evangelicals no longer see the severity of this because they're busy apologising for their apparently barbaric homophobia, whether or not it's true."

The comments were made in response to a debate in the Church of England about introducing same-sex blessings.

The tribunal, meeting in Sheffield this week, heard that complaints were made by three female students, two of whom were lesbians. The students claimed that Dr Edwards' comments made them feel "unsafe".

After refusing to retract his comments, he was dismissed for allegedly bringing the college "into disrepute". 

Dr Edwards told the tribunal that he had wanted to "stand up for truth when it is being eroded in society".

"Christians are called to profess what they believe," he said, according to The Telegraph.

He said that he had been open about his beliefs in other writings, podcasts and sermons, and claimed that the college had been aware of his views prior to the backlash over his tweet. 

"My views on homosexuality have not been unknown, they have been discussed openly," he said at the tribunal.

"In seven years of teaching at Cliff, I have never had a student who took one of my units raise concerns about feeling unsafe in the classroom, and no student has ever left feedback showing concerns about the expression of my views on homosexuality.

"The college had more than enough opportunity to be familiar with my views and with my academic research for there to be less apparent shock and public disappointment from them in responding as they did on Twitter without any prior consultation with me."

The tribunal also heard that he had struggled to find work after his dismissal.

"Equality, diversity, and inclusivity quotas remain significant for all existing universities and validated colleges," he said.

"It is already systemically difficult for a heterosexual white male with traditional Christian beliefs on morality to get an academic post."

He added, "I believe the public expression of my beliefs is academically defensible, but many institutions will likely be unable to look past the controversy of being dismissed as a result."

The hearing continues.