A Christian pastor has claimed he was hounded out of his job as a school caretaker over a tweet in which he said Christians and children should not attend LGBTQ Pride events.
Keith Waters, 55, who also pastors a local evangelical church, resigned from his job after he was investigated by the school over a June 2019 tweet coinciding with the start of Pride month.
He wrote in the tweet: “A reminder that Christians should not support or attend LGBTQ ‘Pride Month’ events held in June. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Christian faith and morals. They are especially harmful to children.”
The Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which is representing Waters, said he was told by colleagues that his tweet was “highly inappropriate and offensive”, that the school had been brought into disrepute, and that he had broken the code of conduct. He was then issued with a final written warning.
Waters said he was left with no choice but to resign.
He is claiming for constructive dismissal, indirect discrimination and breach of public sector equality duty.
His case is being heard by an employment tribunal in Cambridge this week, where lawyers from the Christian Legal Centre will argue that his former employer interfered with his rights to freedom of religion, expression and thought.
They will also argue that Waters was entitled to manifest his religious beliefs on sexual ethics in his tweet, and that the views expressed did not amount to homophobia or discrimination against homosexuals.
Waters said people should be free to raise concerns about Pride events without fear of recrimination.
“I was left with the choice of resigning or being silenced and unable to express my beliefs as a Christian pastor,” he said.
“I had lots of parents pulling me to the side telling me that they supported me, but they wouldn’t dare say so out of fear that the social media mob would also turn on them.
“Being given a final warning meant that I would not be able to do the things I do as a pastor, which is standing up for the truth of the Bible.
“I’m not doing this because I want to sue the school, but because I believe it’s the right thing to do. I want to ensure that other pastors in the future that have to work part time in a secular organisation, will be free to preach the truth and not lose their job.
“I still stand by what I said, and I’ll always stand up for the truth. I believe that children’s safety is paramount.”
Commenting on the case, CLC chief executive Andrea Williams said: “Despite an abundance of psychological studies concluding that children exposed to sexually explicit content at an early age are more likely to develop disorders and addictions, there are many articles online that encourage parents to bring their children to Pride parades.
“Why should a Christian pastor not be able to speak out on such concerning issues without being threatened and losing his job?
“Keith’s story is part of a cancel culture where issues, such as LGBTQ Pride, cannot be questioned or critiqued without individuals being silenced, vilified or worse.
“We stand with Keith as he seeks justice this week.”