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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Christian Teacher Fired for Choosing to Stay with Criminal Husband

  • Veronica Neffinger
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2016 May 19
  • Comments

A Christian teacher in the U.K. has chosen to remain with her husband even after he was convicted of secretly filming his students while they undressed.


According to ChristianToday.com, the decision to remain committed to her marriage vows cost Sarah Pendleton her job at Glebe Junior School in Derbyshire.


Sarah’s husband, Matthew, a head teacher at another school, was convicted of using a camera disguised as a pen to secretly film male students while they were changing for swimming lessons.


Pendleton was accused of “making indecent images of children and voyeurism,” convicted, and given a 10-month jail sentence. Sarah, however, decided to stay with Matthew because she had promised to be committed to him “for better or worse.”


Sarah was initially told that her job would not be affected by her husband’s conviction. However, school officials ultimately decided that allowing her to remain on staff could be “seen as condoning his [her husband’s] behavior,” and proceeded to dismiss her. “This has led the panel to believe that [her] suitability to carry out the safeguarding responsibilities of [her] role ... have been eroded,” said the school. 


Sarah took her case to court where she argued that she had been discharged unjustly, due in part to her religious beliefs about marriage.


An Employment Tribunal agreed that the school’s investigation had been “woefully inadequate,” but disagreed that she had faced religious discrimination.


Sarah then took her case to an Employment Appeal Tribunal which agreed with her that she had experienced religious discrimination.


"I do not suggest that any less respect should be given for those who are in a loving and committed relationship (whether married or not) but who do not share the same view as the Claimant as to the sanctity of marriage vows; I am simply recognising that, in these circumstances, those sharing the Claimant's belief would suffer a particular disadvantage given the crisis of conscience they would face,” stated the judge in regard to Sarah’s case.


Sarah Pendleton will thus be entitled to compensation for unfair dismissal and religious discrimination. The exact amount has not yet been settled on.



Publication date: May 19, 2016