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:
Read it all at The American Conservative