A devout Christian who was thrown off his university course after he described homosexuality a sin on Facebook would not have been dismissed if he had engaged with officials rather than launching a campaign, the judge's ruling reveals.
Ngole, a 39-year-old post-graduate student from Barnsley in south Yorkshire, was expelled from the University of Sheffield's professional social work course after posted 'the Bible and God identify homosexuality as a sin', adding that 'same-sex marriage is a sin whether we like it or not. It is God's words and man's sentiments would not change His words'.
After the High Court rejected his judicial review, Ngole said he was deeply 'disappointed' said it 'supports the university's decision to bar me from my chosen career because of my Biblical views on sexual ethics'.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the campaign group Christian Concern of which the Christian Legal Centre, who represented Ngole is a part, said the ruling 'shakes the foundations of freedom' in the UK.
'Rulings like this show that society is becoming increasingly intolerant of Christian moral values. Christians are being told to shut up and keep quiet about their moral views or face a bar from employment,' she said. 'Unless the views you express are politically correct, you may be barred from office. This is very far from how a free and fair society should operate.'
But Rowena Collins Rice, deputy high court judge, said his Christian views were not the issue and the whole incident was 'not inevitable' and could have been avoided if Ngole had engaged with officials' concerns.
'What troubled the University here in the first place was not the religious motivation or the religious content of the student's...postings,' she wrote in her judgement made public on Wednesday. 'It was how they could be accessed and read by people, service users included, who would perceive them as judgemental, incompatible with service ethos, or suggestive of discriminatory intent.'
She added: 'What troubled the University more, though, was the apparent refusal of the student to take an active interest in that concern about perception. He seemed either to deny the possibility of such a perception or to deny that it should be taken seriously.'
She went on: 'The potential for rapid escalation was obvious. The more the student insisted on the paramount importance of his faith and his freedoms, the more concerned the University became that he was simply unwilling or unable to see and deal with the concern.
'He was not looking at the matter in anything like the way a trainee social worker needed to. And the more concerned the University grew, the more the student felt it was simply against him and against his world view, so the more he felt he needed to insist on respect for his rights, and the more disengaged he became. The outcome became increasingly inevitable.
'It was not inevitable from the beginning. This was a deeply regrettable, and fundamentally unnecessary, course of events. There is not, after all, an obvious incompatibility between deeply held religious views on the one hand, and social work on the other.'
She added: 'Those worlds are eminently reconcilable. Reconciliation is the everyday norm in practice. This is a case about a singular failure of reconciliation.'
The professional panel that made the initial decision said it 'had serious concerns about Mr Ngole's suitability' following 'Mr Ngole's lack of insight and Mr Ngole's apparent inability or unwillingness to reflect on his actions', rather than the views he expressed.
They added his media campaign, launched through Christian Concern, was 'further demonstration of a concerning lack of professional judgment'.
The panel said: 'Our position is that this indicates an inability or unwillingness on the part of Mr Ngole to appreciate or accept that the FPC decision related to his poor judgment and lack of insight and reflection as to how his comments could be perceived, rather than the specifics of the views expressed.'
A spokesperson for Christian Concern told Christian Today it was 'ridiculous to blame Felix' for his attitude.
'They restricted his freedom of expression. They agreed that is what has happened. And it is they who are pursuing it through the courts and stopping him doing what he wants to do which is helping people.'
The spokesperson added: 'The university is in an untenable position and I think the judgement is trying to defend that.'