Charity representative claims John 3:16 is triggering, can lead to death

5 April 2024

While giving evidence in the case of Felix Ngole, a senior member of staff at Touchstone Support Leeds said that sharing the belief that there are only two genders could ‘lead to death.’

Mr Dave Pickard also said that a staff member sharing the famous Bible verse John 3:16, would be ‘triggering’ to an LGBTQI+ service user using NHS services.

The verse says in the Book of John: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’

In response to the comment, Employment Judge Jonathan Brain, said: “What is triggering about that?”

Operations Director, Mr Pickard was giving evidence at Leeds Employment Tribunal defending Stonewall backed Touchstone’s decision to withdraw a job offer because Mr Ngole said he would not ‘embrace and promote LGBTQI+ rights’ due to his Christian beliefs.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Mr Ngole, 46, has brought claims of discrimination and harassment against Touchstone.

In May 2022, Mr Ngole had been offered his ‘dream job’ as a Mental Health Support via Touchstone, who recruit on behalf of the NHS, until it was discovered he had once won a landmark legal case over his right to freedom of speech.

In 2015, Mr Ngole was thrown off his social worker training course at Sheffield University following a debate on Facebook which quoted passages from the Bible about same-sex marriage.

But in a major victory for Christian freedoms, the Court of Appeal ruled in 2019 that Mr Ngole would ‘never discriminate against anyone’ because of his Christian beliefs and therefore he was he was allowed to return to his training and subsequently qualified as a social worker.

Nonetheless, Mr Ngole, despite being offered a job with Touchstone, was invited back for a ‘second interview’ in which he was interrogated about his beliefs. He was told by Touchstone bosses that unless he could demonstrate how he would ‘embrace and promote homosexual rights’, the job offer would be withdrawn.

They said that his beliefs did not ‘align’ with Touchstone’s ethos as an ‘inclusive employer’ and that he posed a risk to the organisation’s reputation.

He was also told in the second interview that he would be expected to attend LGB and Transgender awareness training but would not be free to share his views despite others being free to share their LGBT affirming views.

Despite Mr Ngole seeking to assure Touchstone that he had never been accused of forcing his beliefs on anyone and that he had never been accused of discriminating against anybody, the job offer was eventually withdrawn.

Prior to this, in May 2022, Mr Ngole was the best performing candidate in an interview having gained the highest marks of any candidate on an equality and diversity assessment.

Felix’s evidence – ‘The Good Samaritan’

In giving evidence, Mr Ngole told the panel of the story of the Good Samaritan and said that Christians are to go out of their way to care for people who may not be exactly like them.

Mr Ngole said: ‘I saw the Touchstone job as a position to look after people and care for people. I cannot say that I am serving a loving God, then hate the people he created.’

He said he had been a Christian from a ‘tender age’, held the views on gender and sex which appear in the Bible, and said that he had never had a complaint in 20 years during his time working in the UK.

‘I’m a black man, I know what discrimination feels like,’ he said.

He said the second interview after his Court of Appeal win was discovered, was more like an ‘interrogation’ and that having his Christian beliefs questioned made him feel ‘uncomfortable’. He said he was ignored by the interviewers when he repeatedly said he was feeling ‘anxious.’

‘I felt my faith was under attack,’ he told the tribunal, and he said ‘he felt angry and offended.’

‘I would not discriminate against people. I would never and have never discriminated against anybody. My faith does not allow me to discriminate against people,’ he said.

He said many people in Britain, ‘professionals, judges, housewives, husbands’ hold the same Christian views as him.

He added: ‘I believe that The Bible is the word of God. The Bible is a sacred book and I believe in The Bible.’ The Bible defined what is a ‘sin’, not him’, he said.

‘Minority Stress Theory’

Commenting on the job in question: ‘I wanted to work with people from all backgrounds. I was thinking about how I could help people and support them – something I have been doing for 20 years.

‘As a Christian I do not see any conflict in working with and for people from the LGBT community.’

Mr Ngole said he felt ‘humiliated and betrayed’ by Touchstone’s decision to withdraw the job and that the ‘reasoning for withdrawing the job offer left me confused, exhausted and depressed.’

The trial will continue when the tribunal will analyse Minority Stress Theory in a UK court for the first time.

The theory suggests that minority groups experience stress stemming from experiences of stigma and discrimination.

In response to Mr Ngole’s legal claims, Touchstone lawyers tried to use the theory to justify discriminating against him. They suggested that if one of their service users discovered Mr Ngole’s Christian beliefs on human sexuality, it would cause them distress, and therefore he could not be employed.

If the courts accept this reasoning, it will send an alarming green light to other employers that they can discriminate against Bible-believing Christians in any situation where they might interact with people who identify as LGBTQ+.

In response, the tribunal will hear expert evidence in support of Mr Ngole that no evidence exists to support claims that a polite expression of a contrary opinion can cause psychological harm.

Find out more about Felix Ngole
  • Share

Related articles

All content has been loaded.

Take action

Join our email list to receive the latest updates for prayer and action.

Find out more about the legal support we're giving Christians.

Help us put the hope of Jesus at the heart of society.