A school chaplain in the United Kingdom was forced out of his job and reported to the government's anti-terrorism watchdog after delivering a sermon to students about different ideologies related to gender identity.
Rev. Bernard Randall is taking legal action against Trent College in Nottingham for discrimination, harassment, victimization, and unfair dismissal, according to Christian Legal Centre.
In June 2018, Elly Barnes, CEO of Educate and Celebrate, came to the school to train staff on ways they can "embed gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation into the fabric of your school."
Barnes asserted that the spirit of Educate and Celebrate is to "completely smash heteronormativity," a declaration that alarmed Rev. Randall. Barnes also reportedly told staff that "gender identity" is protected under the Equality Act and the school should recognize it as a policy requirement.
Rev. Randall said he was shocked to hear that the school was adopting an "LGBT-inclusive curriculum" on gender identity, even for children in the nursery school.
Then in 2019, several students approached Randall because they were confused by some of the teachings in the new LGBT agenda.
While delivering a sermon in the school's chapel entitled "Competing Ideologies," the reverend presented the Christian viewpoint on gender identity and urged students to ask questions.
Randall gave the Church of England's biblical position on marriage and the human character, then highlighted that children were not required to "accept an ideology they disagree with."
He also encouraged students, from ages 11 to 17, to form their own decision. The sermon included hymns, prayers, and a Bible reading.
In the coming week, Rev. Randall was confronted by school authorities who advised him that his beliefs were irrelevant and that he had discredited the school's LGBT agenda. He was reported to the government's counter-terrorism watchdog, Prevent, as a religious extremist with the potential for violence. And a complaint was also filed saying he was a danger to children.
During the investigation, Derbyshire Police Officer Richard Barker, sent a report to Prevent saying that Randall's sermon posed no threat. But, additional documentation by school officials revealed that his sermon "was wholly inappropriate for a school and society in general."
In August 2019, the reverend was told that the headmaster of the school had decided to dismiss him on the grounds of gross misconduct. He appealed and was able to keep his job, but was given a final warning.
In order for Rev. Randall to stay with Trent College, every detail of his sermons had to be approved by school authorities in advance and he would also be watched by a staff member to make sure he was compliant.
When the United Kingdom went into pandemic lockdown in March 2020, Randall was laid off. Once restrictions eased, the school refused to reinstate his pay and determined that his position was unnecessary in December of 2020.
"My story sends a message to other Christians that you are not free to talk about your faith," Randall said. "It seems it is no longer enough to just 'tolerate' LGBT ideology. You must accept it without question and no debate is allowed without serious consequences. Someone else will decide what is and what isn't acceptable, and suddenly you can become an outcast, possibly for the rest of your life.
"My career and life are in tatters. I believe that if this is the cross that I have to carry to help prevent others from experiencing the same as me, I have no choice but to pursue justice," he added.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre said Rev. Randall's case is a clear example of criminalization.
"All those that said it couldn't happen – punishing and criminalizing a Christian minister for preaching from the Bible – need to take a long, hard look at the story of Bernard Randall," she said. "When someone like him is pursued and punished it's an attack on us all. It's time to stand up and speak up for these freedoms."
A hearing is expected to be heard at East Midlands Employment Tribunal on June 14.
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