Folau’s prospects bolstered by landmark religious freedom ruling in Britain

Sydney Morning Herald 4 July 2019
Family First Comment: The English Court of Appeal has decided: “The mere expression of religious views about sin does not necessarily connote discrimination.”
#FreeToBelieve

Britain’s second-highest court handed down a decision on religious freedom yesterday that will send chills down the collective spine of Rugby Australia. In contrast, Israel Folau and his team will be thanking God for divine providence that is akin to manna from heaven.

In Ngole v the University of Sheffield, the English Court of Appeal has decided: “The mere expression of religious views about sin does not necessarily connote discrimination.”

The factual similarities to Folau’s case are remarkable. Felix Ngole was a social work student at the University of Sheffield and a devout Christian. In 2014, he posted Bible verses about homosexuality on a public Facebook page as part of a political debate. Sheffield University accused Ngole of breaching a vague and broadly worded code of conduct.

Through a hearing and two committee appeals, various bureaucratic apparatchiks repeatedly incanted that quoting Bible verses constituted “views of a discriminatory nature” and breached professional guidelines.

As the British appeal court stated: “The university wrongly confused the expression of religious views with the notion of discrimination. The mere expression of views on theological grounds (e.g. that “homosexuality is a sin”) does not necessarily connote that the person expressing such views will discriminate on such grounds.”

This lines up almost exactly with Folau’s case. Throughout his four-year ordeal, Ngole advised that he would never compromise his Christian beliefs. Ultimately, Sheffield University expelled him. A judge in Britain’s High Court confirmed this decision.

However, the Court of Appeal disagreed and has found that the university discipline process was fundamentally flawed. The university took an entrenched position early on, adopted processes that lacked insight and imposed a sentence that lacked proportion.

This will be uncomfortable reading for Rugby Australia.
READ MORE: https://www.smh.com.au/national/folau-s-prospects-bolstered-by-landmark-religious-freedom-ruling-in-britain-20190704-p5240w.html
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