Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A bigot does bigoted things that reflect badly on their employer, they get the boot, and the Christian Legal Centre tries to make them a free speech hero. Said centre is then handed its arse on a plate by a tribunal judge who points out the bleeding obvious: you can believe what you like, but you can’t behave how you like.
This week’s case features Karen Higgs, who worked at her son’s Church of England primary school as a pastoral assistant and who was sacked for railing against the same school’s relationship lessons very vocally online. “THEY ARE BRAINWASHING OUR CHILDREN!” You know the kind of thing.
The reason you can’t do this kind of thing is because it brings your employer into disrepute.
Every employment contract I’ve ever signed had one of those clauses. It’s a standard bit of boilerplate that means that you can’t go around bad-mouthing your employer and expect to stay employed. For example, if you work for a restaurant and tell loads of people on Facebook that the food is shite and you hate the customers, you shouldn’t clear your diary for the next staff Christmas party.
The Church of England makes it very clear that its schools value “All God’s Children”, not just the straight cisgender ones with straight cisgender parents, and it has a very clear policy on anti-LGBT+ bullying and how staff in primary schools should discuss issues such as same-sex parenting and trans parents.
In particular it says that primary schools should “promote a strong anti-bullying stance that shows that HBT [homophobic, biphobic and transphobic] remarks and behaviour are unacceptable.” Posting homophobic and transphobic things online is of course in direct conflict with that.
In her defence, Higgs claimed that it was okay to rail against same-sex marriages because while “I am aware that same-sex marriages are now recognised under UK law… I believe that is contrary to God’s law”. But while they may be bound by God’s law in their head, they’re bound by UK law at work.
As school governor Stephen Conlan told the tribunal: “You can post your beliefs without posting this sort of language and it is perfectly possible to communicate your beliefs without using such strong language.”
I feel sorry for the people of faith who these clowns claim to represent. The people demanding “religious freedom” to defame and demonise others don’t represent anybody but themselves. They’re not devout. They’re just dicks.