Christian teacher fired after street preaching arrest wins hefty settlement

By The Christian Post |
Andy Nix
Andy Nix | Christian Concern
A Christian teaching assistant in the United Kingdom who claimed he was fired for street preaching in his free time won the equivalent of a nearly $9,000 legal settlement in a case against his former employer.

Lawyers representing Andy Nix at the Christian Legal Centre announced Thursday that their client secured a £7,000 legal settlement with Temple Moor High School in Leeds. Nix says he was discriminated against for his Christian beliefs and fired for having preached in Leeds City Centre in July 2021.

Nix was arrested on July 6, 2021, after being on the scene in Leeds City Centre with Dave McConnell, another street preacher who had prompted police attention and physical backlash a month earlier from those who heard him preaching in opposition to LGBT ideology.

Video footage showed McConnell repeatedly being abused by the crowd, who also reportedly stole some of his possessions. He was prosecuted and mandated to perform community service after being reported to the U.K.'s counterterrorism watchdog for calling a trans-identifying man in the crowd "gentleman," though a court later threw out the charges against him.

CLC noted at the time that the officer who arrested McConnell was sporting a pentagram tattoo.

On the day of Nix's arrest, his preaching prompted a negative response. He claimed that an officer attempted to wrestle away the cross he was carrying and give it to a bystander who had accosted him.

Nix's lawyers maintain that the only thing he said the day of his arrest in opposition to homosexuality was that "if you think all homosexuals are happy with their lives, then you are living in cloud cuckoo land."

Nix was arrested for an alleged public order offense and made to stay in a jail cell from 4 p.m. to 11 a.m. the next day. He told local media that officers banged on his door at 2 a.m. to question him, but he refused.

Police dropped all charges against Nix in August 2021, though he was reportedly dragged into a human resources meeting at Temple Moor High School in March 2022 after it emerged in local media that he intended to sue the police for wrongful arrest.

Matthew West, the school's headmaster, and another staff member reportedly grilled Nix about whether he attended a "rally" in Leeds City Centre and implied that Nix had been arrested for "homophobic remarks."

Nix maintained that he felt he was being pressured to renounce his Christian beliefs regarding sexuality and gender during the HR meeting. He said he was reportedly subject to complaints from pupils who claimed they did not feel safe with him working at their school.

West allegedly ordered Nix off the premises immediately, after which Nix filed a complaint with the U.K. Employment Tribunal alleging harassment and discrimination in violation of Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).

Nix's lawyers say their client was directly discriminated against because of his protected Christian beliefs and that the reasons cited for his firing were based on "hearsay" evidence.

The teaching assistant has denied allegations that he said same-sex attracted people would "burn in Hell." CLC calls such allegations "maliciously alleged." Nix's legal team also argued that he never preached a message that could "reasonably be said" to cause students to "feel unsafe."

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, called Nix's case "a clear example of employer overreach."

"The classroom and security of jobs cannot be weaponised against teaching staff who are Christians and publicly express their beliefs," Williams said. 

"The idea that a Christian can be sacked because a pupil says they feel 'unsafe' over Christian preaching outside school is ludicrous and deeply concerning. We can't live in a world where the students call the shots and headteachers are forced to comply or be labelled bigoted."

Nix said in a statement that he was "shocked and amazed that the headteacher could do what he did."

"He made me feel like a criminal; his aim was to bully and humiliate me into renouncing my Christian activity," he said. "I believe if I had renounced it, I could have kept my job."

He has claimed that his sacking has hurt his ability to find other employment and has had a "considerable" impact on his life and finances. He argues the school "trampled over my freedom of expression and belief."

While he expressed satisfaction that they agreed to settle, Nix added that his situation is "a worrying sign if Christians are not allowed to debate, preach and express their faith in public without fear of losing their livelihoods."

"I unashamedly love Jesus, and my Christian faith is very important to me," Nix said. "I want others to know and understand this Good News and hope for their lives. I should not be treated like a criminal for doing this."

Nix said the way law enforcement has treated street preachers in Leeds in recent years is "appalling" and alleged a "two-tiered policing against Christian and conservative beliefs I believe has encouraged young people to believe street preachers are fair game who they can attack and discriminate against at will."

"The experience has, however, helped me grow in resilience and reminded of the cost involved in following Jesus Christ," he added.

The Christian Post has reached out to Temple Moor High School and will update this story if the school responds.

Originally published by The Christian Post