Dr Bernard Randall, an ordained Church of England minister, has lost his job as chaplain at Trent College, Nottingham, and has been reported to the government’s counter-terrorism watchdog as a ‘potentially violent religious extremist’ for a sermon he gave telling students they can make up their own minds about LGBT issues.
According to Christian Concern, the school also reported Dr. Randall as a ‘danger to children’ to the same authority that receives complaints about potential pedophiles.
Trent College is an independent school whose stated aim is “to educate boys and girls according to the Protestant and Evangelical principles of the Church of England”. But in June 2018, the school invited an LGBT activist to train its staff in embedding “gender, gender identity and sexual orientation into the fabric of [the] school”.
As the school’s chaplain, Dr Bernard Randall took issue with what the activist taught — which included instructing a room full of staff to chant ‘smash heteronormativity’ during a training session.
The activist also misled the school’s staff by telling them that ‘gender identity’ is a protected characteristic under the UK’s Equality Act — and therefore must be recognised as such at the school as well — when this is not in fact the case.
According to Dr. Randall’s job description, he was to be “the particular voice and embodiment of… Christian values which are at the heart of Trent’s ethos”. In keeping with this, Dr. Randall raised his concerns with the head teacher, who told him that he would be included in any discussions about implementing the ‘LGBT inclusive curriculum’ at the school.
Months later, however, the program had been adopted without the chaplain’s input. When Dr. Randall questioned why he had been excluded from the decision-making process, he was informed that it was because he “might disagree” with the decision.
Dr. Randall was subsequently approached by students who were confused and upset by the school’s new LGBT curriculum, including one who asked, “How come we are told we have to accept all this LGBT stuff in a Christian school?” In response, Dr. Randall delivered a sermon in the school’s chapel entitled ‘Competing Ideologies’.
In the sermon — which was part of a service that included hymns, prayers and a Bible reading — Dr. Randall explained that,
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.
Addressing students who were struggling under the pressure to “accept ideas which run counter to their faith”, Dr. Randall said, “You are not obliged to accept someone else’s ideology. You are perfectly at liberty to hear ideas out, and then think, ‘No, not for me.’”
In his sermon, Dr. Randall outlined the Church of England’s biblical position on marriage and human sexuality, and he stressed that “religious belief is just as protected in law as sexual orientation”. He also warned of some of the tactics that are used to silence and bully dissenters, such as the accusation that someone who disagrees with LGBT ideology suffers from a ‘phobia’.
The transcript of Dr. Randall’s sermon can be read here.
A week after he gave the sermon, Dr. Randall was brought before a meeting with Trent College’s Deputy Head and the school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL). According to Christian Concern,
In a hostile interrogation, Dr. Randall was told that his beliefs were not relevant and did not matter, and that the sermon had hurt some people’s feelings and undermined the School’s LGBT agenda.
Dr. Randall was then immediately suspended pending an investigation.
Without his knowledge, the DSL reported Dr. Randall to Prevent, the UK government’s counter-terrorism watchdog. The police officer who responded to this report concluded that Dr. Randall “posed no counter-terrorism risk,” but he also gave the personal opinion that the sermon was “wholly inappropriate for a school, and society in general”.
The DSL also reported Dr. Randall to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) as posing a ‘danger to children’. LADO is the same authority to whom the public reports concerns regarding potential pedophiles.
Initially, Dr. Randall received a letter from the school stating that his sermon constituted “gross misconduct” and that he would be dismissed. On appeal, the school’s governors overturned the sacking. But during the Covid-19 lockdowns, Dr. Randall was furloughed, his hours reduced, and his role ultimately made redundant.
With the help of the Christian Legal Centre, Dr. Randall is taking Trent College to court for discrimination, harassment, victimisation and unfair dismissal. An employment tribunal hearing is scheduled for 14 June 2021.
You can support Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre here.
Originally published at The Daily Declaration.