For many years in the UK we have enjoyed a great degree of freedom to speak, to express our opinions, our politics, our faith. We have had the confidence as a nation to encourage and enjoy healthy debate.
But as our politics, media and “establishment” have increasingly desired to be seen as more progressive, liberal and open, the progression has in fact been toward anything but liberal and open. We see rather a sinister closing down of “the wrong kind of subjects”.
Employers must not police what they feel is ‘wrong think’
It was this I discovered firsthand three years ago when my employer decided that my orthodox Christian views were incompatible with their “open and inclusive philosophy”. They deemed that this was the case even when these views were expressed outside of the workplace, without reference to my employer, and were addressed to people of the same faith.
I am thankful therefore that after taking this to law, with support from the Christian Legal Centre, I have received a judgement which has both reasserted the rights of all to have freedom to reasonably express themselves, even if others may disagree or claim offence. It has also put employers on notice that they must not frame their employment policies in ways which curtail freedoms outside the workplace, or use such policies to police what they feel is “wrong think”.
I have always genuinely believed that as abhorrent as the ideas of others may appear to me, so long as they offer no threat to any individual or our society as a whole, or indeed risk to children, that every individual should have the right to freely express and speak about their beliefs on any and every subject. My first reaction was to celebrate that a Judge had reinforced that freedom as a result of this case. There is also relief that my family, friends and two church congregations, who have shared this burden with me since June 2019, will be able to move on with their lives and let go of the unpleasantness, threats and stresses that this saga has carried along in its midst. I am truly grateful that the judgement will bring these difficulties to a graceful close.
Unless it brings pressure to bear, it will be a wasted victory
I pray this judgment will provide protection to others who are at risk of being unwittingly caught by vicious attacks from “the woke” in our society, when they take a stand for the safety of children or speak up for orthodox Christian beliefs. I am hopeful that employers, both public and private, will take this judgement seriously and amend their employment policies and procedures to protect both employer and employee. In doing so, may they remove the dangerous and partisan political and philosophical nonsense which has crept into many policies over the past decade or so.
There is one outcome of this judgment that has become more rather than less, however, which must continue to grow and deepen. It is the urgent and critical need for momentum to build around freedom of expression within our society. The judgement is good and right; it has vindicated my stand on the issue. But unless it is used to bring pressure to bear on those who are tempted to flout, or have been called out for flouting employment law it will be a wasted victory in the battle to reinstate freedom of speech in the UK.
This is the welcome end of a difficult journey in many senses, and Lord willing an encouragement for others who are battle weary, but I pray it will also be a call to arms for those who have been on the side-lines and have yet to join in this crucial fight.
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