Christians find comfort in the phrase “God Loves You.” Whenever hearing these three words, believers are both reminded that they’re not alone in this world, and that their omnipotent creator cares for them.
Unfortunately, these words that bring hope to so many aren’t embraced by unbelievers. In July of 2016, an educator in Great Britain learned this lesson the hard way.
With 17 years of experience, Svetlana Powell was terminated by the T2 Apprenticeship Academy in Bristol, England after she shared her views about homosexuality in the classroom. When a 17-year-old pupil discovered Powell was a Christian, the student started to relentlessly interrogate Powell about her personal beliefs about homosexuality. The teacher revealed her closely held view that being a homosexual was against the will of God.
In addition to this disclosure, Powell also told her students that God loves everyone regardless of who they were or what they did. When students told Powell that one of the pupils in the classroom was a lesbian, the educator pivoted toward the girl and said, “God Loves You.”
One pupil pressed the educator to reveal if she believed the gay student would end up in hell. At this time, Powell shared that everyone can receive salvation through Jesus Christ. She never uttered the word “hell.” Nevertheless, a complaint was filed with the school’s authorities.
The day after the grievance was made, Powell was summoned to attend a disciplinary meeting. She didn’t even have time to discuss her situation with an attorney. At the meeting, Powell was questioned about her Christian faith and the details of it she’d shared with students during the discussion.
An hour after the conference ended, the British educator was summoned back to the room where she was informed her contract was being terminated. The justifications provided for her dismissal were an inability to control her classroom and making comments some students deemed offensive.
Besides being commanded to leave the school immediately, Powell was also told she couldn’t appeal her termination. Perhaps even worse, the teacher was purportedly reported as a “radicalization threat” to Prevent, an anti-terrorist watchdog in Great Britain. Concerning her firing, Powell said, “I was surprised that my contract was terminated. I was telling them about the love of God and love of each other. For them to compare my Christian views to terrorist acts, that was absolutely appalling.”
With the help of the United Kingdom’s Christian Legal Centre, CLC, Powell sued the Marr Corporation regarding her termination. During the proceedings, Pavel Stroilov, a CLC attorney, argued that Marr Corporation fired Powell because of her Christian beliefs. The lawyer insisted the educational institution treated Powell inherently different than it handled students’ complaints about another educator, Andrew Spargo. Stroilov depicted Spargo as an “outspoken let-wing atheist.”
While grilling Liz Baker, a Marr Corporation witness, the CLC lawyer referenced an e-mail where Baker listed pupils’ objections that Spargo spent the majority of his instructional time “preaching to them on the daily basis about how terrible England is and how many innocent people the government has killed, as well as why Jesus never existed.”
In a particularly disturbing incident, Spargo reportedly showed students a picture of a naked female with her legs open displaying her private parts. On another occasion, the atheist educator purportedly spoke obscenities twice to a student while trying to get the pupil to leave his classroom.
On February 2, 2018, the United Kingdom Employment Tribunal pronounced its ruling. Judge Maxwell determined Powell was terminated “because she allowed herself to be drawn into a discussion where she expressed personal religious views… allowed it to escalate and get out of control.” The Judge went on to say, “She was not dismissed, to any material extent, for her Christian religion or beliefs.”
Barrister Andrea Williams, director of both the CLC and Christian Concern, a campaigning organization, remarked, “We are seeing a worrying trend of cases such as this.” She feels Powell’s situation illustrates “how Prevent will be used to punish innocent and soft targets.”
Powell may have lost her job and been placed on a terror watch list. But, because of those three words “God Loves You,” she can hope for a better tomorrow.
~ 1776 Christian