Christian actress ordered to pay $350K after being fired over Bible verse social media post

Actress Seyi Omooba
Actress Seyi Omooba | Christian Legal Centre

Seyi Omooba, a Christian actress dismissed from a stage adaptation of “The Color Purple” for her alleged homophobic remarks, has lost a protracted legal battle, culminating in a directive to cover legal expenses exceeding $350,000.

The controversy began with a social media post that led to her removal from the production, sparking a five-year legal dispute over allegations of religious discrimination. Omooba, 29, is the daughter of a pastor, faced termination from her role as Celie, a lesbian character, in the 2019 production after her comments on homosexuality surfaced online.

Omooba, who had not read the play’s script before accepting the role, contended she was unaware of the character’s sexual orientation. Her legal challenge against the theatre and her former agents was dismissed, with the tribunal emphasizing her lack of preparation and understanding of the role, according to The Telegraph.

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The Employment Appeal Tribunal reviewed Omooba’s background, noting her upbringing in a devout Christian family and her previous refusals to accept roles conflicting with her beliefs.

The judge said Omooba “knew she would not play a lesbian character, but had not raised this with the theatre, or sought to inform herself as to the requirements of the role of Celie,” The Sunday Times reported.

She was familiar with the film adaptation of “The Color Purple,” based on Alice Walker’s prize-winning novel that was to be staged in Birmingham and Leicester, England, and which downplayed the lesbian relationship central to the story, but she failed to grasp the stage version’s focus on this aspect.

Her stance on not playing certain characters due to her religious convictions, including rejecting a role in “The Book of Mormon,” was highlighted during the tribunal. Her legal appeal, including the objection to the substantial legal fees, was unsuccessful.

Aaron Lee Lambert, associated with the musical “Hamilton,” had highlighted Omooba’s past Facebook post, which questioned the legitimacy of being born gay and labeled homosexuality as incorrect.

In the 2014 post, Omooba urged Christians to “tell the truth” about homosexuality, writing: “It is clearly evident in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 what the Bible says on this matter. I do not believe you can be born gay and I do not believe homosexuality is right…

“I do believe that everyone sins and falls into temptation but it’s by the asking of forgiveness, repentance and the grace of God that we overcome and live how God ordained us to. Which is that a man should leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24.

“God loves everyone, just because He doesn’t agree with your decisions doesn’t mean He doesn’t love you. Christians we need to step up and love but also tell the truth of God’s word,” she added. “I am tired of lukewarm Christianity, be inspired to stand up for what you believe and the truth…”

In his tweet, Lambert asked: “Do you still stand by this post? Or are you happy to remain a hypocrite? Seeing as you’ve now been announced to be playing an LGBTQ character, I think you owe your LGBTQ peers an explanation. Immediately.”

Omooba’s post prompted the theatre to demand a retraction from Omooba, which she declined, leading to her contract’s cancelation.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Omooba initiated legal action in August 2019.

Omooba said at the time: “I just quoted what the Bible says about homosexuality, the need for repentance, but ultimately God’s love for all humanity. I stand by what I wrote, but had I known that it would have come to this, I would have set my account to the privacy mode.”

She added, “I have support from actors that I’ve worked with, including those in same-sex relationships, who say that even though they don’t agree with my views, they know that I’m not hateful or malicious.”

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