The housing association that demoted a Christian employee and slashed his pay was worried about losing an award from a gay rights group, it has emerged.
Bosses also warned the Christian, Adrian Smith, about preaching in churches close to Trafford Housing Trust in Manchester.
These latest revelations come as the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement added its voice to a growing list of critics who question the Trust’s heavy-handed actions.
Adrian Smith was demoted and given a 40 per cent pay cut for using his personal Facebook page to post the comment “an equality too far” in relation to an article on the registration of civil partnerships in churches.
Mr Smith also said on Facebook: “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 marriage 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”.
He appealed against the disciplinary decision but his bosses wrote to him rejecting his appeal, adding that his comments “had the potential to seriously undermine the Albert Kennedy Accreditation, which we were proud to receive last year”.
The Albert Kennedy Trust is a homeless and housing crisis charity for homosexuals. It awards a ‘quality mark’ to housing providers that satisfactorily meet “the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people”.
The letter also told Mr Smith that, whilst he has a right to preach in churches, he could face further action if he was recognised or linked with the Trust.
At the weekend a gay rights group criticised Trafford Housing Trust and urged the Trust to give Mr Smith his job back.
Sharon Ferguson, Chief Executive of The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, said: “Trafford Housing may have acted with the best of intentions here, but we believe they have overreacted and very much hope that they will reinstate Adrian Smith.”
Last week homosexual activist Peter Tatchell said that Trafford Housing Trust was being “excessive and disproportionate”.
He added: “Adrian Smith reportedly made his comments in his own time on his personal Facebook page, which is not viewed by the general public. He expressed an opinion.”
The case was raised in Parliament last week by Stewart Jackson MP who said the Trust’s public funding should be reviewed. The case has been referred to the Minister for Housing, Grant Shapps.
The Trust has also been criticised by writers at The Guardian and the New Statesman.
Adrian Smith is taking a legal action against his employer, backed by The Christian Institute, a national charity that defends the religious liberty of Christians.
The Institute’s Mike Judge said: “By their own admission, their fear about losing an LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual] award was a factor in their decision to penalise Adrian, a decision that has damaged his career and plunged his family towards financial hardship.
“Sadly, they seem determined to waste more public money defending the indefensible in court.”
The Trust said on Saturday night: “We expect employees at all levels to act respectfully and adopt our ethos of valuing, respecting, supporting and treating people with dignity regardless of their age, disability, faith, gender or gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity status or race/ethnicity or sexual orientation.”