The number of Christians losing their jobs and being persecuted for their faith over LGTB issues continues to rise but many are fighting back with lawsuits.
Mr. Tomasz vs. Ikea
The latest high-profile case is from the world's largest furniture retailer, IKEA. A worker at the mega store had been fired from his job after he refused to participate in a pro-LGBT event and posted Bible verses about homosexuality on social media.
IKEA had urged workers to participate in International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on May 16 and "to stand up for the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender plus people of all sexual orientations and gender identities."
IKEA worker, Mr. Tomasz responded that "I've been hired to sell furniture but I'm a Christian and these aren't my values." He then proceeded to post verses from scripture in opposition to homosexuality on social media.
When ordered to attend a disciplinary hearing over the verses it was demanded that he take down the posts but he refused, saying "I cannon censor God". A few days later IKEA terminated his contract stating that he was "expressing his opinion in a way that could affect the rights and dignity of LGBT+ people."
Now, Mr. Tomasz is fighting back. Represented by conservative Polishlegal group, Ordo Iuris, he is suing for wrongful termination.
"The insinuation contained in the Ikea statement is unacceptable and violates Mr Tomasz's personal rights," Ordo Iuris chairman Jerzy Kwasniewski explained, noting that it "can be read as motivated by prejudices against Christians".
Ikea was attempting to "censor the Holy Bible" and calling the "Old Testament "legally unacceptable," Kwasniewski added.
Poland's minister of justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, has called the case a "shocking matter" and "absolutely scandalous if confirmed" -- he has ordered the prosecutor's office to investigate.
Israel Folau vs. Rugby Australia
In a similar fashion to Mr. Tomasz, Australian Ruby star Israel Folau was also fired after posting Biblical verses considered offensive to homosexuals on social media and refusing to take them down. He subsequently had his multi-million dollar contract with Ruby Australia terminated.
Folau, Super Rugby's all-time record try-scorer, had a contract until 2022 and was expected to represent the Wallabies at this year's World Cup in Japan. In addition to his contract being terminated, the athlete lost sponsorship deals with companies, including car manufacturer Land Rover and sportswear brand Asics.
According to his legal representatives, Folau is now seeking "substantial remedies from his former employers should they be found to have breached the Fair Work Act in terminating his employment." The athlete will challenge his firing under section 772 of the Fair Work Act, which prohibits an individual's employment being terminated on the basis of religion.
In May, a three-member panel announced that it decided to terminate Folau's employment over his comments. The decision made the devout Christian the first Australian athlete to be dismissed for expressing religious beliefs.
At the time, Folau said he was "deeply saddened" by the decision but underscored his belief that "the Christian faith has always been a part of my life and I believe it is my duty as a Christian to share God's Word."
"Upholding my religious beliefs should not prevent my ability to work or play for my club and country," he said.
"Ours is an amazing country built on important principles, including freedom of religion," Folau continued. "A nation made up of so many different faiths and cultural backgrounds will never be truly rich unless this freedom applies to all of us."
He went on to state, "No Australian of any faith should be fired for practicing their religion."
Felix Ngole vs. University of Sheffield
In a shocking case for Christian students worldwide, Felix Ngole was dismissed as a student from Sheffield University in the UK for posting comments on social media critical of homosexuality.
Ngole, who was a second-year Master's student studying to be a social worker, became the subject of a "Fitness to Practice" hearing, as he was advised that he "may have caused offense to some individuals" and had "transgressed boundaries which are not deemed appropriate for someone entering the social work profession."
Following additional meetings, the Sheffield committee concluded that Ngole's beliefs would negatively affect his "ability to carry out a role as a social worker," and was consequently advised that he was "excluded from further study on a program leading to a professional qualification." The school informed Ngole that he is "no longer recognized as a university student."
However Ngole fought back with the assistance of the Christian Legal Centre and took them to the Royal Courts of Justice. Unfortunately the court agreed with the university that such views could negatively affect his social work.
Undeterred, he fought back once again and this time the court of appeals agreed, ruling that "the mere expression of views on theological grounds (e.g. that 'homosexuality is a sin') does not necessarily connote that the person expressing such views will discriminate on such grounds," it said.
"In the present case, there was positive evidence to suggest that the appellant had never discriminated on such grounds in the past and was not likely to do so in the future (because, as he explained, the Bible prohibited him from discriminating against anybody)."
The court expressed concern that the university's viewpoint appeared to be that Christians can never voice such views other than behind closed doors lest someone aware of their line of work should find out.
"In our view the implication of the university's submission is that such religious views as these, held by Christians in professional occupations, who hold to the literal truth of the Bible, can never be expressed in circumstances where they might be traced back to the professional concerned," it outlined. "In practice, this would seem to mean expressed other than in the privacy of the home."
"In practice, if such were a proper interpretation of professional regulation supported by law, no such believing Christian would be secure in such a profession, unless they resolved never to express their views on this issue other than in private," the court continued. "Even then, what if a private expression of views was overheard and reported?"
To demonstrate the concern, the panel said that in following the university's logic, Ngole would not even be free to speak his views at church.
"The postings in question here were found following a positive internet search by the anonymous complainant. What if such statements had been revealed by a person who had attended a church service or Bible class?" it asked.
Ngole responded to the ruling saying, "This is great news, not only for me and my family, but for everyone who cares about freedom of speech, especially for those working in or studying for caring professions. As Christians we are called to care for and serve others, and publicly and privately we must be free to express our beliefs, especially when asked, without fear of losing our livelihoods."
"I have suffered tremendously as a result of how I was treated by the University of Sheffield and I feel that four years of my life have been taken away from me. Despite all this, I feel overwhelming joy that what I have lost will be so much gain to Christians today and in the future as a result of this important ruling for freedom."