A teacher in England is out of a job for a stunning reason: She’s a Christian, and was honest about her beliefs when asked.
According to LifeSiteNews, an experienced educator named Svetlana Powell was fired from an academy for high school age students in Bristol. Not only that, but she was also reported as a “radicalization threat” to a government group that deals with counter-terrorism tips.
The problem began when Powell was asked to “sub” for another teacher. As often happens, some students decided to challenge the temporary teacher and purposely steered the classroom discussion toward her religion. One student in particular kept being disruptive.
“After the lunch break, the student continued talking while producing minimum work, so was asked to move away to the opposite end of the classroom,” LifeSite reported.
“The student objected, and then started to be argumentative about the tutor’s faith, asking her first a question about her personal beliefs on evolution.”
The rest of the class seemed interested in the discussion, so the teacher did what many good educators do: She tried to use the existing topic to create a learning opportunity.
“I decided to use the students’ interest in the subject and to have a discussion to accommodate the activities included in the lesson plan,” Powell explained. “I considered the topic appropriate, as the discussion about Christian views would contribute in raising cultural issues of our day and awareness of the religion of this country.”
It’s a fair point. Considering that Christianity is one of the largest religions in the United Kingdom and throughout the world, having a general understanding of what its followers believe is valuable if only from a cultural awareness perspective, just as understanding what the adherents of Judaism or Hindu believe can be culturally educational.
“The student who had originally been warned about his behaviour then asked the tutor for her personal views on homosexuality,” said LifeSite. “She replied by saying that as a Christian, she ‘personally’ believed the Bible says that homosexual activity was against God’s will, but that God still loves every person regardless of what they did, or who they were.”
This is the key point: The teacher did not set out to lecture the students or push her views, but honestly answered a question posed by the class about her beliefs.
Apparently trying to “bait” the teacher into saying something controversial, the disruptive student who had sparked the discussion singled out a lesbian classmate.
“The same student then said that another student in the group was a lesbian, to which the tutor replied that God loved her,” LifeSite reported.
“The tutor was then asked whether the lesbian student would ‘go to hell’, to which the tutor replied with the historic Christian view that for everyone who repents (turns to God), God has provided a way of salvation to us through His son, Jesus Christ. The tutor said nothing about ‘hell.'”
That interaction was apparently enough to end the teacher’s employment. The next day, Powell was told that students had made a complaint, and she was called in to a hearing by school administrators and made to explain and defend the explanation of her faith that she had told to the class.
When it was all over, Powell was out of a job — and more shockingly, later discovered that she had been referred to “Prevent,” a government anti-terrorist group that investigates reports of radicalism. Who knew “God loves you” was so threatening?
Now, the teacher is suing the school with the assistance of the Christian Legal Centre, based on the view that she was dismissed essentially for being a Christian.
“We are seeing a worrying trend of cases such as this,” said Andrea Williams, an attorney for CLC. “The fact that Svetlana was reported to Prevent for holding Christian views is a sign of our times. It shows how Prevent will be used to punish innocent and soft targets. A radical rethink is required.”
Freedom of religion is supposed to mean that a person’s faith alone cannot be used as the basis for discrimination. It would be one thing of a teacher used her position to try to convert students or brow-beat them with personal views — but Powell did nothing of the sort.
Instead, she simply told the truth when high school-aged students asked about her faith and the tenants of her religion. She didn’t repeat anything hateful, but apparently shared her belief in love. That is shocking and controversial?
Consider for a moment if this teacher had different beliefs. What if she were Sikh or Muslim or atheist? A classroom inquisitively asking a Sikh to explain their religion — or an atheist to explain how they arrived at their views — would be seen as culturally educational.
It’s hard to imagine a teacher of any other faith being dragged in front of a review panel and then shown the door for merely answering questions about their faith. Yet this is happening to Christians with alarming frequency.
Once again, those who talk about “tolerance” turn out to be incredibly intolerant when it comes to conservative or Christian views. America should pay attention, because this growing issue is not isolated to just Britain.
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