After 26 years as a physician, David Mackereth thought he had experienced it all. Then one day in early 2018, when training for his new role as a disability assessor with the United Kingdom’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), his line manager asked if he would be willing to do something that as a Christian he felt he could not do. Because of that, Mackereth eventually lost his job. Now he is fighting in the courtroom for his rights as a Christian.
“If you have a man 6 feet tall with a beard who says he wants to be addressed as ‘she’ and ‘Mrs.,’ would you do that?”
Dr. David Mackereth considered his line manager’s question and responded that as a Christian, he was not able to refer to a biological man as a woman.
In an email exchange with his managers, Mackereth was told to comply and use transgender pronouns, or lose his job as a doctor.
“I am a Christian and in good conscience cannot do what the DWP is requiring of me,” he replied.
Weeks later, Mackereth was terminated, and he has been fighting the battle ever since.
In July at the Birmingham Employment Tribunal, he challenged the DWP for religious discrimination.
Mackereth and his lawyers argued that he has been discriminated against for his Christian beliefs—specifically, his belief in the truth of Genesis 1:27, which states that God made man and woman. In October, the tribunal made a unanimous judgment against Mackereth.
The ruling has rocked the Christian community in the United Kingdom.
The tribunal said that Mackereth’s Biblical view of what it means to be man and woman was “incompatible with human dignity” and “in conflict with the fundamental rights of others,” which in this case was the rights of transgender people.
Christian Concern, a charity supporting persecuted Christians, reported that in delivering the judgment, Judge Christopher Perry said that in the eyes of English Law, Mackereth’s faith does not meet three legal requirements: “being worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not in conflict with the fundamental rights of others.”
This ruling places fundamental Christian beliefs in the same category as racist and neo-Nazi beliefs, which have also been ruled as “not worthy of respect” in previous law cases.
The tribunal acknowledged that Christianity is protected under the Equality Act 2010, but since the judge viewed Mackereth’s belief to be a “mere opinion,” it ceased to be protected under the law that fought for Christian freedom in the U.K.
Placing transgender rights ahead of Christian freedom, Perry’s ruling inherently excludes Christian beliefs from the protection of human rights and anti-discrimination laws—a move that will have shattering impact on Christian citizens in the U.K.
“We will appeal. We have to fight this. We will take this as far as we can,” Mackereth told Decision.
Since being terminated by the DWP, Mackereth has been working as an emergency doctor for the National Health Service (NHS) in Shropshire, U.K. In preparation for the tribunal hearing, he has worked alongside Christian Concern.
Losing the legal case has been hard, Mackereth said, but he knows that he’s only one of many Christians in the U.K. who have faced religious discrimination at work.
Earlier this year, the U.K. government published a report looking into how the authorities should respond to Christian persecution. The report concluded that Christians were the most persecuted religious group in the world, and that a “firmer stance” should be taken against Christian persecution in the country.
Living in an ever-growing secular country—where less than 40% of the population label themselves as Christians—Mackereth knew he’d face trials when speaking boldly about the Bible.
He recalled feeling a sense of fear when wanting to stand up for his faith, but he knew that God would be with him through it all.
Speaking to other health care professionals, Mackereth said that his colleagues have often expressed similar opinions to him, but they refused to speak out, for fear of losing their jobs. “People are afraid to lose their employment, their livelihood and their homes,” he said.
The tribunal’s ruling against Mackereth marks the first time in English law that free citizens have been compelled to use speech that conflicts with their personal beliefs. Mackereth is deeply concerned about the ramifications of the judge’s rulings, especially for those working in the medical industry who will now have to conform to using transgender pronouns.
“As doctors and nurses, we don’t really know where we stand now,” Mackereth said. “If a person cannot change sex, then there’s no point pretending that they can.”
Many people see science and faith as two opposing principles, but to Mackereth, the two harmonize perfectly. “Transgenderism is as clear a case against the teaching of the Bible as it is against the clear teaching of science. You don’t need to be a scientist to know that it is not a sensible concept,” he said.
When news of Mackereth’s termination hit the headlines, he thought, I can never be a doctor again. I’ll never be able to get back into medicine. However, more than a year later, Mackereth continues to work in the medical field and boldly spread the truth of the Bible in a society saturated with political correctness.
“What happened has made me feel like I’m part of the battle and not on the sidelines,” he said. “At this age and generation, it’s thrilling to know that we are standing up for the truth that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There’s such sweetness and joy in serving the Lord.”
Although many see Mackereth’s case as a catastrophic loss for Christians in the U.K., he has found joy throughout the whole process.
Despite the shocking ruling of the judge, who stated that Mackereth had an outdated view of the Bible, he is grateful that his case shines a light on the “cultural godlessness” in society—in particular, the U.K. court hand-picking what they believe is an acceptable strand of Christianity. Mackereth said that “what looks like a terrible disaster actually feels like a terrific victory.”
He may have lost his job and his good standing with some people in his life, but Mackereth said the whole trial has brought him closer to God.
“It’s been thrilling from start to finish,” Mackereth said. “The thing is, as Christians, we don’t lose when we lose, because we have the Lord Jesus Christ with us. I don’t want to be involved in any other battle. I want to do this because it’s honoring the Lord, and it’s necessary to the people of this country.”
Claisse Opulencia is junior communications officer for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in the United Kingdom.
Photo: Christian Concern