UK school chaplain sues after being fired, reported as terrorist for sermon questioning LGBTQ activists

A school chaplain in the United Kingdom is taking legal action against his former employer after he says he was fired because of a 2019 sermon that told students they are entitled to make up their own minds about the claims of LGBTQ identity politics.

"I gave a sermon in chapel saying you don't have to accept anybody's ideology, you make up your own mind," said Rev. Dr. Bernard Randall of his sermon, which remains available online. "On certain issues, LGBT activists and Christians are in full agreement: there should be no discrimination, no one should be attacked personally or whatever. But there are issues where there's disagreement."

Randall, an ordained minister in the Church of England who worked five years at Trent College in Derbyshire, England, was also reported to the government's counterterrorism watchdog by his school and blacklisted as a "safeguarding risk" to children by his diocese because of his sermon, he told Fox News Digital in a Tuesday phone interview.

In his sermon, Randall explained to his young students, all of whom were aged 11 to 17, what the Church of England's historical teachings are on marriage, sexuality and gender. He reminded them they are not required to embrace the claims of LGBTQ activists, and are entitled under English law to believe what they wish on such issues.

"So the school leadership took exception to that, dragged me in for an interrogation, suspended me, subsequently sacked me for gross misconduct despite being a Church of England school," he said. "I was a Church of England minister in a Church of England act of worship, giving a sermon saying you may accept Church teaching."

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Randall said the idea for the sermon came to him after one of his pupils asked him to speak in chapel about why they "have to accept" LGBTQ ideology at a Christian school. Trent College, which is affiliated with the Church of England, had previously brought in Elly Barnes, CEO and founder of Educate and Celebrate, an LGBTQ education charity, to train school staff.

Barnes reportedly encouraged school staff to chant "smash heteronormativity" at a training session. Her group, which did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital, aims to help schools and organizations "embed gender, gender identity and sexual orientation into the fabric" of their culture, according to its website.

Randall said he raised concerns at the time with school leadership that Barnes' directives would be at odds with the school's Protestant evangelical ethos, but that he was left out of the decision to implement her organization's program. Days after his controversial sermon in 2019, he was reportedly called before the school's deputy head and its designated safeguarding lead (DSL) and told that his beliefs were irrelevant and that his sermon had hurt some people's feelings.

Following an investigation, the school fired Randall. He later learned that the school's DSL also reported him to local law enforcement and Prevent, which polices allegations of terrorism in the United Kingdom. The government watchdog ultimately determined that he did not pose a terrorist threat.

After being fired, Randall was reinstated following an appeal, but he said his reinstatement came with a list of conditions, one of which forbade him from broaching "any topic or express any opinion (in Chapel or more generally around School) that is likely to cause offense or distress to members of the school body." He also had to obtain prior approval from the school regarding the themes and content of his sermons.

Randall was furloughed during the pandemic, never restored to full-time hours and ultimately made redundant on Dec. 31, 2020.

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In an employment tribunal that begins Wednesday and could last as long as three weeks, Randall is bringing claims of harassment, discrimination, victimization and unfair dismissal on the grounds of his Christian beliefs against Trent College. With the aid of the Christian Legal Centre, he is also seeking compensation for unfair dismissal and a recommendation under the Equality Act 2010.

Citing the ongoing tribunal, Trent College administrators told Fox News Digital in a statement that they are "unable to comment in detail on the specifics of the case." 

"At Trent College, we are proud of our commitment to supporting the wellbeing of all our students, regardless of faith, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. We want every one of our students to feel safe here, and we work hard to stay abreast of the latest thinking on inclusivity including the evolving LGBT+ landscape," the school added.

Randall said that his dioceses also investigated him following his sermon. Rather than supporting him, the diocese deemed him a risk to children because of his views. The kicker on their assessment, he said, was that the investigating officer deemed "the Church itself as a risk factor," acknowledging that portions of Scripture and church liturgy support Randall's position.

"They decided that simply holding to the Church's teachings meant that I was potentially a safeguarding risk; that I might cause anxiety to anybody who came to talk to me about matters regarding sexuality and whatever," he said. "Based on no evidence other than I just accept the teachings of the Church that employs me and employs the people who are making the safeguarding assessment."

The Diocese of Derby did not return Fox News Digital's request for comment.

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Explaining how his situation has been "challenging," Randall said, "It hasn't made me any less confident of Christian truth. It made me a lot less confident in the Church of England, so trying to work out my place in the big scheme of things has been really difficult."

"But ultimately, I'm an ordained minister. And when you get ordained, you promise to speak the truth. You're effectively appointed as a ‘prophet,’ so to speak, to society. I promised to do that, so that's what I'm doing," he said.

Randall noted that "woke" ideology has seemingly assumed all the trappings of a traditional religion, albeit one without God. He places his own experience within a much larger anti-religious trend spreading not just within the United Kingdom, but throughout the Western world.

"I definitely think that the whole ‘woke’ agenda — gender identity ideology, all of those things — is profoundly Marxist in its attitudes," he said. "And we know that Marxists absolutely hate religion. They don't want religious people around because ultimately religious people — both Christians, Jews and others — speak what they hold to be truth higher than what the state says."

"And for Marxists, the only truth is what the state tells you the truth is, so they have to stamp out any other version of the truth. And that's why religion comes under attack in sometimes blatant ways and sometimes the subtle, chipping away at the foundations, and making fun of religion as if it's foolish. Whereas, actually, those who believe know there's nothing foolish about having the joy and the peace and the promise of eternal life that faith in Jesus brings," he continued.

In a written statement about his ordeal, Randall wrote that "woke activists are eating away at the [Church of England]'s guts." Many have asked him if he would ever leave the Church because of what he is going through, but he noted to Fox News Digital that he is reluctant to leave because the institution is "so deep in my DNA, really."

"I've always been in the Church of England," he said. "My family has always been Church of England. I can't quite imagine not being in the Church of England. It's more about the Church of England leaving me, in a sense. I'm not going to make any promises, but I think I want to stick it out."

"And if I need to be a nuisance to try to call the Church back to where it should be, I think maybe that's my calling. God never promised an easy ride, so I'll stay where God has put me and do the good that he has put in front of me. That's the basic attitude I take," he added.

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