Pride tweet pastor wins discrimination claim
- Credit: Archant
Former church pastor and caretaker Keith Waters has won his discrimination claim against Isle of Ely Primary School.
Mr Waters quit as caretaker following an internal investigation into a tweet about Pride.
He tweeted that Pride events were “harmful to children” and following the backlash the school began disciplinary proceedings.
Mr Waters said it had become obvious neither the school or the academy trust would tolerate his right to freedom of speech or freedom of faith.
"That being the case, I have no choice but to leave your employ to ensure that my church and I are protected from being silenced,” he said.
Mr Waters, pastor at Ely New Connexions Church for 12 years and now minister at a Carshalton church, took his case to an employment tribunal in Cambridge.
It has found in his favour.
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The tribunal ruled that “while evangelical Christian ministers will have views not necessarily shared by everyone, it is part of their duty to preach those beliefs”.
It felt “social media is one medium by which this is done".
Mr Waters also claimed direct discrimination and constructive dismissal but the tribunal dismissed both.
Judge King who chaired the tribunal, said the curtailment of Mr Waters’ Christian views needed to be done with “some exercise of caution”.
Only in the clearest of cases where the rights of others are being damaged “should the school intervene to prevent the claimant from preaching”.
The judge said that final disciplinary action was not proportionate "given that the views expressed were done so as part of the claimant's religious beliefs outside of work".
Active Learning Trust said the school had received some complaints and felt it reasonable to investigate in a non-discriminatory way.
The trust said it was pleased the tribunal had recognised their policies were in place to pursue the “important legitimate aim” of eliminating offence.
“We also note the tribunal's findings on the issuing of a warning and we will be taking the time to consider our position on this finding."
Mr Waters told a Christian newspaper: “I pray that this ruling will help protect pastors in the future that have to work part time in other jobs to make up their income.
“This is an important win for our freedom to speak the truth of the gospel without fear of losing our jobs.”