Friday, 16 November 2012

£14,000 Politeness Penalty

Want to hear some really daft news.  Consider this.  Last year in February Adrian Smith stated, on his personal Facebook page, that the UK government’s plan to pass a law to permit gay marriages in a church was “an equality too far”.  This was Adrian Smith’s personal opinion and I am sure that you will agree he is perfectly entitled to his opinion.

A work colleague of Adrian Smith, who has not yet been identified, later asked Adrian on Facebook: “Does this mean you don’t approve?”[1] 

Adrian Smith’s response: “No, not really.  I don’t understand why people who have no faith and don’t believe in Christ would want to get hitched in church.  The Bible is quite specific that marriage is for men and women.  If the State wants to offer civil marriages to the same sex then that is up to the State; but the State shouldn’t impose its rules on places of faith and conscience.[2] 

So, what do we have here?  Adrian Smith does not agree with the government’s proposal to legalise gay marriage in a church.  His reasoning for disagreeing seems entirely reasonable and is not at all offensive.  So there really should be nothing further to this matter.  Right?  Wrong!

As a consequence of these comments, Adrian Smith’s employer conducted a disciplinary enquiry and found Adrian Smith guilty of gross misconduct.  His employer then demoted him and reduced his annual income from £35,000 to £21,000. 

That reduction in income is equivalent to imposing a fine of £14,000; if we only consider the annual income he would lose in the first year.  Consider this amount in the context of the fact that the maximum fine that a magistrate court may apparently impose in the UK is only £5,000.  In that context it really seems to be an extremely harsh penalty just for having a different opinion about gay marriage!

I do not remember this news receiving much airtime from the big broadcasters during 2011 when it occurred.  Why would it?  After all it was merely just another Christian man being persecuted for having an opinion that didn’t conform to the opinion held by the proponents of gay marriage.  In fact, if truth be told, I conducted a search of the Sky News website and found that there were absolutely no reports whatsoever on their website regarding this matter in 2011.  Quite telling isn’t it?

The good news is that Adrian Smith took his employer to court in October 2011.  His employer vowed at the time to defend the case vigorously.  What a bunch of nana’s!

Today Adrian Smith successfully won his case against his employer.  In making his ruling, High Court judge Mr Justice Briggs said: “Mr Smith was taken to task for doing nothing wrong, suspended and subjected to a disciplinary procedure which wrongly found him guilty of gross misconduct, and then demoted to a non-managerial post with an eventual 40% reduction in salary.  The breach of contract which the Trust thereby committed was serious and repudiatory.

Adrian Smith commented after the trial that: “Something has poisoned the atmosphere in Britain, where an honest man like me can be punished for making perfectly polite remarks about the importance of marriage.”  

I agree with Adrian Smith.  Sadly, however, it is not just in Britain that the atmosphere has been poisoned in this way.  Throughout the world we see this occurring on a daily basis.  We need to have the courage to stand up for the moral values in which we believe, no matter the difficulties we face in doing so.  We need more Christians like Adrian Smith in the world. 

[1] Mail Online, Demoted for not backing gay marriage, Oct 23, 2011
[2] Mail Online, Demoted for not backing gay marriage, Oct 23, 2011

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