Church of England Chaplain’s Appeal Postponed

Church of England Chaplain’s Appeal Postponed

Correction: Decision reported Tuesday that Church of England minister Reverend Dr. Bernard Randall appeared before an employment appeal tribunal to challenge a previous ruling that upheld his firing. We have learned that the tribunal has postponed the appeal until March 2025, after another religious freedom case is heard. That other case is scheduled to be heard in October 2024.

Responding to the news, Randall said“I am hugely frustrated by the further delays to me receiving justice. Just waiting to get my life back can feel like a form of torture in itself. But I also recognize the huge significance of [the other] case and my own and what is at stake, and I know that ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him.’”

Randall was serving as chaplain at Trent College, near Nottingham, in 2018, when the independent school—which described itself as “Protestant and evangelical” with a Church of England ethos, invited an LGBTQ activist from Educate and Celebrate (E&C) to implement an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum into the school.

The program was designed to teach staff how they could “embed gender, gender identity and sexual orientation into the fabric at your school.” As the school was adopting the curriculum, a student asked Randall, “How come we are told we have to accept all this LGBT stuff in a Christian school?”

In response, Randall delivered a sermon that reminded students of their right to disagree with the LGBTQ principles being put in place—particularly if they went against their beliefs and Church of England values. The sermon said in part: “The most important thing is to remember that loving your neighbor 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.”

The school told Randall that his sermon was inflammatory, divisive and harmful to LGBT pupils. Randall was suspended and eventually fired. The school also, without Randall’s knowledge, reported him to the government’s terrorist watchdog. Randall was blacklisted as a ‘safeguarding risk’ by the Church of England.

Randall took the school to court, but in February 2023, an employment judge ruled against him. The judge said that Randall “takes an extreme view of E&C which bears no resemblance to the reality of its purpose and implementation, which was aimed simply at creating an inclusive environment for all. We saw and heard no evidence that came anywhere close to supporting [Randall’s] view that E&C would indoctrinate pupils in such a way.”

In Randall’s appeal, his lawyers with the Christian Legal Centre argue that the original ruling failed to recognize Randall’s right to freedom of religion and expression when he delivered his sermon on contested issues on matters of significant public interest. In addition, the school and tribunal denied pupils’ free speech right to hear Christian teaching and to make up their own minds.

Randall’s lawyers point to several recent developments that have led to the appeal:

First, following the employment tribunal’s ruling last year, the head teacher of Trent College reported Randall to the Teaching Regulation Authority (TRA) and the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) with the aim of preventing him from teaching and working with children indefinitely. But the DBS found no evidence of harm or potential harm and concluded that “it would not be appropriate” to take action against Randall. For its part, the TRA said there “was no case to answer.”

Second, the UK’s Charity Commission reported in January that E&C, the extreme LGBT group behind the school’s curriculum, is folding. The news follows a series of scandals, including revelations that E&C lied to hundreds of schools in saying that it was endorsed by the U.K’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted).

As part of his appeal, Randall will challenge the judge’s ruling against him, which wrongly asserted several times that: “E&C is an Ofsted and [Department of Education]-recognized best-practice program.”

Prior to the appeal hearing, Randall said:

“I was and am aghast at how the courts have painted me and my Christian beliefs as the problem when it has now so clearly been exposed that E&C has been the danger to children.

“My case concerns everybody. The gender identity and Queer Theory agenda sowing deep seeds of confusion in young children is now embedded in our schools. That agenda is anti-Christian and unashamedly aims to stamp out any Christian influence in our schools, and indeed any opposition, dissenting voice or even debate on their dangerous ideology.

“I would not be where I am now if E&C had not been invited into Trent College, it is as simple as that. As an ordained CofE minister working as a chaplain in a school with a CofE ethos, it was my duty to encourage debate and help children who were confused by the LGBT+ teaching to know that there are alternative views and beliefs on these contentious issues.”

In a statement issued last month, Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, called out Randall’s Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury, saying: “Instead of defending Bernard, who had simply upheld the church’s own teaching, the church authorities have refused to clear his name. This must now change.”

Photo: Christian Concern

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