A chaplain in the United Kingdom is alleging discrimination and harassment after a college dismissed him and reported him to the government’s anti-terrorism unit for a sermon affirming biblical teaching on sexuality.
Rev. Bernard Randall was a chaplain at Trent College in Nottingham when, in 2019, he delivered a sermon encouraging students to love “our neighbors as ourselves” and love “everyone equally.” In the same sermon, he told the students, “You do not have to accept the ideas and ideologies of LGBT activists.” He also noted that Trent exists “to educate boys and girls according to the protestant and evangelical principles of the Church of England.”
Trent, which had implemented an LGBT curriculum, reported him to the government’s counter-terrorism watchdog Prevent and then dismissed him later that year, according to Christian Institute, which is representing Randall in a lawsuit. Although his dismissal was overturned, he was told his sermons must be approved ahead of time. He lost his job again due to the pandemic.
Randall’s lawsuit alleges discrimination, harassment, victimization and unfair dismissal.
“I was doing the job I was employed to do,” he said in a statement. “I wasn’t saying anything that I should not have been able to say in any liberal secular institution. Everyone should be free to accept or reject an ideology. Isn’t that what liberal democracy means?
“... 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. I have no choice but to pursue justice.”
Although a police officer said Randall’s sermon posed no terror risk, the officer also said the sermon “was wholly inappropriate for a school, and society in general,” Christian Institute said.
Randall said he had trouble sleeping after being reported to the anti-terrorism unit.
“When I found out that they had reported me without telling me, my mind was blown trying to comprehend it,” Randall said. “I had gone to such lengths in the sermon to stress that we must respect one another no matter what, even people we disagree with.”
Randall’s sermon urged students to “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 neighbor as yourself means,” he said in the sermon. “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.”
Randall said the idea for the sermon was sparked by a student who asked, “How come we are told we have to accept all this LGBT stuff in a Christian school?”
“No one should be discriminated against simply for who he or she is: that’s a Christian value, based in loving our neighbors as ourselves, and God making humankind in his image, male and female, and himself loving everyone equally,” Randall said in the sermon. “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. … You should no more be told you have to accept LGBT ideology, than you should be told you must be in favor of Brexit, or must be Muslim.”
Photo courtesy: ©Christian Institute
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.