UK Christian student expelled from social work course over views on marriage

Originally published in Christian Concern

Felix Njobe
Felix Ngole

A Christian student has been removed from a university social work course after he made comments on his personal Facebook page in support of biblical teaching on marriage and sexual ethics.

Following a ‘Fitness to Practise Committee’ hearing at Sheffield University, second year Masters student Felix Ngole, 38, has been told that he has been “excluded from further study on a programme leading to a professional qualification” and is “no longer recognised as a University student.”

Ngole was told that, by posting his comments on Facebook, the Committee believed that he “may have caused offence to some individuals” and had “transgressed boundaries which are not deemed appropriate for someone entering the Social Work profession.” His action would have an effect on his “ability to carry out a role as a Social Worker,” the Committee said.

Ngole is appealing the decision and is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre.

If the decision is not overturned, it could prevent Ngole from pursuing his vocation in social work.

Bar to office
The university’s decision to exclude him effectively creates a “bar to office for Christians”, Ngole says, and amounts to “secret policing of Christian belief.”

He says that he is “determined to challenge the decision because of its wider consequences and the huge issues of freedom of religion and freedom of expression that it raises.”

“My beliefs about marriage and sexual ethics reflect mainstream, biblical understanding, shared by millions around the world. Simply expressing that understanding, in a personal capacity, on my Facebook page, cannot be allowed to become a bar to serving and helping others in a professional capacity as a social worker,” he adds.

In support of marriage
Ngole made the comments in question last September on his personal Facebook page, in connection with the case of Kim Davis, the marriage county clerk from the US state of Kentucky, who expressed a conscientious objection to issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples.

Ngole expressed support for Kim Davis’s freedom and in the course of the discussion explained biblical teaching on sexual ethics.

Nearly two months later, he received an email from a university official telling him that his comments were being investigated and summoning him to a meeting the following Monday.

Following further meetings, he has now been told that the Faculty of Social Sciences Fitness to Practise Committee had ruled that he should be removed from the course.

“Your student record will be terminated shortly and your library membership and University computer account withdrawn. You may wish to contact your funding body for advice on your financial position,” he was told.

Who is monitoring these decisions?
Ngole said: “The way that I have been treated raises very serious issues about the way students in English universities are being censored in their views and beliefs.

“If the personal statements of students on their own social media pages, and amongst their own ‘friends’ are now to be used to judge whether they are ‘fit and proper people’ to serve in professions such as law, medicine, teaching and social work, then very serious questions need to be asked about the freedoms in the UK.

“A university is not the proper body to judge whether a potential student is a fitting person to join a professional body. That is for the professional body concerned. If universities are now to scrutinise their student’s social media accounts, then students should be warned about that at the very start of their studies, and should be given the opportunity to decide whether it is the sort of university they want to attend.

“If each university is making its own, arbitrary decisions, who is monitoring these decisions and how can students ensure that, across all universities, there is good, fair and equal assessment of such issues?

“However, there is a far more serious issue at stake. Further education is a time when all students should be helped to explore their beliefs, through interaction and debate. If they are ‘censored’ from even sharing their ideas or beliefs as part of a discussion on Facebook then how can that happen? Even the Soviet Union did not restrict students like this!

“If these sort of judgemental procedures were in place when David Cameron and other Cabinet ministers were in Oxford, and some were members of the Bullingdon Club, one wonders whether they would have been prevented from continuing their courses as well!

“The university claims my views are discriminatory but I am the one being discriminated against because of my expression of Christian beliefs. I wonder whether the university would have taken any action if a Muslim student who believes in Shari’a law, with its teaching about women and homosexuality, had made moderate comments on his Facebook page. I don’t think so.”

Christians neutered in the public arena
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Ngole, said:

“The university’s treatment of Felix fundamentally violates its responsibilities under the human rights legislation. The university has failed to protect his freedom of speech under Article 10 and his freedom of religion under Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Students are entitled to discuss and debate their own personal views on their own Facebook page.

“Felix has worked with people who identify as homosexual, treating them with respect and kindness. What he shared on his Facebook page simply reflects biblical teaching on sexual behaviour.

“He is not yet a social worker, and unless we win this case he will be barred from social work. Felix is a student, who is entitled to express his views, especially ones shared by millions of people around the world.

“There is no evidence that Felix’s views adversely impacted his work. Quite the contrary, he was a hard-working student who should qualify in due course and be an asset to the profession.

“Sadly, this is yet another case of Christians being punished in the public arena, and of censorship of views. We will help Felix fight this through the university’s appeals process, and to Judicial Review if necessary.”


  1. The Christian faith has to sort itself out as a matter of urgency.Sensorship of any view must be debated to check what is it that we as Christians want.May be once we do that then we would have a different angle from which to begin this discussion when a christian views are sensored. Am raising this knowing very well that sensorship prevails inside the four walls of the church.When a brethren raises a point of difference- sensoring comes in.Even this platform monitores the responses of partakers and surely has sensored some which it was felt they were against the broader vison of the GatewayNews. This I know happenes everywhere- sensorship has to do with eliminating any view that brings in a teaching and or articulation contrary to the beleif system of a particular institution or organisation.So therefore, Christian organisations and institutions will apply it if needs be.Islam does that already. We can never have free speech loosely anywhere and everywhere. On this basis we should perhaps move away from entering into the public discourse of sensorship of views in the manner we do.Cause I beleive and wish to sensor so many things that are not of the Kingdom of the God Almighty.

    May be Christians have to stop playing the victim but rather create an environment where they themselves become strong protagonists of sensorship.Fight for sensorship of anything anti- Christ- period.Do so in pulpits and public podiums.We cannot watch whilst we are taken to the galores.We cant just sit and wait for our everyone’s turn. Nothing is neutral in this life- nothing at all.We are inviting this treatment by not actioning Godly principles as a single united force.We have become too much softies, We have surely,according to me at least- shallow as I am , become great conformists.We have tolerated a lot of evil happening right before our very own eyes.We suffering from embracing democracy rather than what Christ commands us to do.The point of departure we have in this debate is premised on democracy.Come on! wake up fellow sons and daughters of the Most High God- this slumber is an equivalent of a sin.


  2. Elizabeth van der Westhuizen

    If I said ,on Facebook, that I loved steak, would I be brought before court for perhaps offending vegetarians and vegans???? Wake up to the time we are living in. Tribulation time here and now, for Christians!!!Prophesy, (may I say), from the Bible. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me first.” Words of Jesus Christ. Shalom.