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Thought-policing social workers

May 2016

Christian student Felix Ngole has said he will seek further legal action, after his university expelled him for his views on marriage, which he had outlined on Facebook.

The 38-year-old, who was studying a Master’s degree at Sheffield on social work, has lost his appeal against the university’s Fitness to Practise Committee’s (FPC) decision to expel him.

He had been told by the FPC that he was ‘excluded from further study on a programme leading to a professional qualification’ and was therefore ‘no longer recognised as a university student’.

Although nobody had directly accused Mr Ngole of causing offence, he was told that his biblical views on marriage ‘may have caused offence to some individuals’, and had ‘transgressed boundaries which are not deemed appropriate for someone entering the social work profession’.

Given how many university students post inappropriate, gratuitous and offensive material on social media sites, Mr Ngole believes the university authorities have no grounds in law to filter potential candidates to a profession, based on their own politically correct views.

When Mr Ngole appealed to the Appeals Office, he was told the posts in question were ‘inappropriate’, in the light of the professional conduct code outlined in the Health and Care Professions Council.

Censorship

A letter from the Appeals Office, quoted by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which is supporting Mr Ngole, claimed that he had not ‘offered any insight or reflection’ on the ‘potential impact’ of his postings, or on how the social work profession may be perceived by the public, based on what he had posted.

However, Mr Ngole said: ‘Like every other student at university, I use social media to communicate and express personal views. In my Facebook posts in question, I simply expressed support for the biblical view of marriage and sexuality. I did not say everyone has to agree with me. However, I was reported to the university for these views, and it unilaterally decided to end my course.

‘In so doing, they ended my training for my chosen vocation in life. At no stage when entering university were students told their social media would be “vetted”, or the university had a sole right to decide who should and should not go into their chosen profession’.

Mr Ngole added: ‘I shall seek to take further action, as my case raises all sorts of legal questions as to whether Christians can any longer hold traditional biblical and moral beliefs and still enter mainstream professions such as social work, medicine, teaching and law in this country’.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, of CLC, said: ‘The university’s decision reflects a worrying trend, which is to censor any view that may be deemed offensive. There is no evidence his biblical views would have negatively impacted his work.

‘This is the first time a Christian student has been stopped even before he enters his chosen vocation to help others, simply for holding traditional Christian views on marriage and sexuality. This case raises fundamental issues, which is why further action is vital’.

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