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Anglican vicar fired for Christian sermon loses court case…

Anglican vicar fired for Christian sermon loses court case…

You might recall that in 2019, the Rev. Dr. Bernard Randall, an Anglican priest serving as the chaplain of Trent College, a Church of England school, delivered a sermon telling students that they did not have to accept ideological claims made by LGBT activists, but they did have to treat all with respect and civility. That led the school to report him to the government’s anti-terrorist Prevent program, secretly. When the government found the kindly vicar (I met him last summer; he is a gentleman and a gentle man) to be no threat at all, the school then put him in a vise. Eventually it cut Dr. Randall loose. He sued for unfair dismissal. After all, if a Christian pastor cannot defend Christian truth in a sermon to a Christian school where he is chaplain, what has the world come to?

Well, Dr. Randall has been defeated in a British court, which found that the school was correct to dismiss him for saying that it’s okay to hold traditional Christian views on LGBT matters. Here he tells his story to Calvin Robinson:


Here is a link to the sermon Dr. Randall, at the time the school’s chaplain, gave that led to his being reported by the school — again, a Church of England school! — to the government’s anti-terrorist program. Excerpts:

Now when ideologies compete, we should not descend into abuse, we should respect the beliefs of others, even where we disagree. Above all, we need to treat each other with respect, not personal attacks – that’s what loving your neighbour as yourself means. By all means discuss, have a reasoned debate about beliefs, but while it’s OK to try and persuade each other, no one should be told they must accept an ideology. Love the person, even where you profoundly dislike the ideas. Don’t denigrate a person simply for having opinions and beliefs which you don’t share.

There has been another set of competing ideals in the news recently. You may have heard of the protests outside a Birmingham primary school over the teachings of an LGBT friendly “No Outsiders” programme. In a mostly Muslim community, this has been sensitive, because many parents feel that their children are being pushed to accept ideas which run counter to Islamic moral values. Many in that community are concerned, even angry, that their children are having an agenda, an ideology pushed on them, which is in conflict with their religion.

And in our own school community, I have been asked about a similar thing – this is one of the requested topics, and the question was put to me in a very particular way – “How come we are told we have to accept all this LGBT stuff in a Christian school?” I thought that was a very intelligent and thoughtful way of asking about the conflict of values, rather than asking which is right, and which is wrong.

So my answer is this: there are some aspects of the Educate and Celebrate programme which are simply factual – there are same-sex attracted people in our society, there are people who experience gender dysphoria, and so on. There are some areas where the two sets of values overlap – no one should be discriminated against simply for who he or she is: that’s a Christian value, based in loving our neighbours as ourselves, and God making humankind in his image, male and female, and himself loving everyone equally. All these things should be accepted straightforwardly by all of us, and it’s right that equalities law reflects that.

But there are areas where the two sets of ideas are in conflict, and in these areas you do not have to accept the ideas and ideologies of LGBT activists. Indeed, since Trent exists “to educate boys and girls according to the Protestant and Evangelical principles of the Church of England,” anyone who tells you that you must accept contrary principles is jeopardizing the school’s charitable status, and therefore it’s very existence. You should no more be told you have to accept LGBT ideology, than you should be told you must be in favour of Brexit, or must be Muslim – to both of which I’m sure most of you would quite rightly object.


So, all in all, if you are at ease with “all this LGBT stuff,” you’re entitled to keep to those ideas; if you are not comfortable with it, for the various especially religious reasons, you should not feel required to change. Whichever side of this conflict of ideas you come down on, or even if you are unsure of some of it, the most important thing is to remember that loving your neighbour as yourself does not mean agreeing with everything he or she says; it means that when we have these discussions there is no excuse for personal attacks or abusive language. We should all respect that people on each side of the debate have deep and strongly held convictions. And because, unlike Brexit, this is not a debate which is subject to a vote, it is an ongoing process, so there should be a shared effort to find out what real truth looks like, and to respect that that effort is made honestly and sincerely by all people, even if not everybody comes up with the same answers for now.


For this, the administration of the Church of England school reported this vicar to the government as a terrorist. Think about that. Later, as I said, they fired him. And now an employment tribunal has upheld his firing:

Dr Randall’s sermon, delivered in the school chapel in June 2019, was prompted, he says, by pupils’ concerns about an organisation called Educate & Celebrate (E&C) run by Dr Elly Barnes, which was invited to ’embed gender, gender identity and sexual orientation into the fabric’ of the school and help ‘develop a whole-school LGBT+ inclusive curriculum’.

He said in his sermon: ‘You should no more be told you have to accept LGBT ideology, than you should be told you must be in favour of Brexit, or must be Muslim.’ But he stressed the ‘need to treat each other with respect’.

During staff training, Ms Barnes had encouraged staff to chant ‘smash heteronormativity’, which Dr Randall, a former Cambridge University chaplain and Oxford graduate, described as bizarre.

But following a hearing at East Midlands Employment Tribunal, Judge Victoria Butler said this was ‘simply an enthusiastic attempt by Ms Barnes to warm up the teachers at the outset of the day’. Judge Butler noted that the Church of England cites E&C as a recognised ‘resource’.

During investigations by the school and the diocese, Dr Randall repeatedly raised that his beliefs on marriage and sexuality were based on CofE public liturgy, especially the Book of Common Prayer, and Canon law which states that marriage is ‘in its nature a union permanent and lifelong… of one man with one woman’.

However, Judge Butler suggested that Dr Randall had ‘misconceived’ what E&C is and that he had ‘an extreme reaction’ to their involvement within the school.

She said: ‘We saw and heard no evidence that came anywhere close to supporting the claimant’s view that E&C would indoctrinate pupils in such a way.’ She added the decision to refer Dr Randall to the terror watchdog was justified ‘from a safeguarding perspective’.

Dr Randall’s claims for unfair dismissal, discrimination, harassment and victimisation were all rejected.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre who backed Dr Randall’s case, said: ‘The message from this judgment to Christians is you cannot disagree or express disagreement with LGBT teaching – you must comply, celebrate and promote.’

She’s right. Dr. Randall is guilty of blasphemy. The LGBT lobby and its allies are totalitarians.

I’m pleased to report that the Archbishop of Canterbury, and other senior hierarchs in the Church of England, have rallied to Dr. Randall’s defense, urgently declaring that no Christian pastor should be treated that way, and certainly not one in a Church of England school. Ha! Just kidding! Canterbury hasn’t said diddly-boo about it, nor have any other CofE leaders. They’re happy to let the woke wolves savage this faithful priest.

At the Trent College website, the school boasts:

With a rich heritage dating back to 1866, our schools have never lost sight of the traditions and values with which we have carved out such a distinctive reputation.

Liars. But what can you expect of an Anglican school when the Church of England itself has lost sight of its traditions and values, such that no one in leadership in that church would raise his or her voice in support of Dr. Randall? Shame, shame, shame.

Dr. Randall says he’s going to appeal the ruling. We have to hope he prevails.

By the way, readers, you might have missed it on Friday, but TAC and Self are parting ways in a couple of weeks. I’m moving all my blogging to my subscriber-only Substack newsletter, Rod Dreher’s Diary. I’ll be sending out daily emails every weekday, which means that with the five dollar per month subscription fee (or $50 per year), you’ll pay only twenty cents per day for my stuff. I wish I could offer it to you for free, but I’ve got to pay the bills some kind of way. I’ll be blogging here for the next couple of weeks and making the transition to the Substack, so I’ll have to keep reminding you that this blog is going away soon, and asking you to please subscribe. If you’ve missed the longer, more introspective religious and cultural posts here, but didn’t feel like paying five dollars a month for them, well, now you can get them once again, as well as the politics and culture war content — PLUS there’s a comments section for paying subscribers! I hope we can rebuild the robust comments section we used to enjoy here. Come and join us! And thank you for making the kind of work I do highlighting stories like Dr. Randall’s possible for American and global audiences. I can’t do this for free.

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