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Chaplain says diocese blacklisted him as ‘risk to kids’ for stating Anglican beliefs on sexuality

Bernard Randall
The Rev. Bernard Randall |

An Anglican chaplain allegedly fired for preaching traditional views on sexual ethics during a chapel service says the Church of England wrongfully listed him as a risk to children for openly expressing his conservative beliefs on sexual ethics.

The Rev. Bernard Randall was reportedly told by the Church of England that a safeguarding team in the Diocese of Derby had labeled him a "moderate risk to children" and vulnerable adults over his beliefs on sexual ethics, according to a statement released by the Christian Legal Centre Sunday ahead of an employment tribunal hearing this week. 

Randall, ordained by the Church of England and formerly employed at the Church of England-affiliated Trent College, claims to have endured "Stalinesque" interrogations where he was told that refusing to deny his beliefs made him a risk.

The team went to the extent of saying that the expression of his beliefs was a safeguarding risk and that "the Church itself is a risk-factor."

The CLC, which represents Randall, contends that there's been an absence of any evidence that Randall behaved inappropriately in his dealings.

"I had always wanted to give the Diocese a chance to see sense and to sort this situation out properly internally," Randall said in a statement. 

"I have always been so loyal to the Church, but sadly that has not been reciprocated. I have been marked as a 'risk to children' by Church officials for expressing, moderately, the CofE's own teaching on human sexuality in a CofE chapel."

Randall doesn't believe that delivering a sermon can be a "safeguarding issue."

"I did not think anything I said was wrong," he said. "I certainly didn't make personal attacks."

In May 2021, Randall filed a legal challenge after being fired from Trent College, reportedly in response to a 2019 sermon that was reported to an anti-terrorism program called Prevent. 

In the sermon, he questioned the legitimacy of a new LGBT-inclusive curriculum at the school and said that students should be allowed to question the curriculum and convey conservative views on sexual ethics. 

The teaching material from the "Educate and Celebrate" curriculum was adopted by the college after a visit by Elly Barnes, founder of Educate & Celebrate, an LGBT education charity.

The material aims to "equip you and your communities with the knowledge, skills and confidence to embed gender, gender identity and sexual orientation into the fabric of your organization."

In August 2019, Randall was informed of his dismissal for gross misconduct, which was eventually overturned on appeal. 

Nevertheless, Randall maintains that he was forbidden from speaking on topics "likely to cause offense or distress to members of the school body" and told not to "publicly express beliefs in ways which exploit our pupils' vulnerability." 

Despite the prolonged trauma, the chaplain said earlier he had become more vocal as a Christian.

"The bizarre thing about being reported to Prevent, which is supposed to tackle violent extremism, is that it has pushed me a bit toward being more radical about the importance of free speech. It's not violent extremism, but it's made me much more aware of that as an issue. It's slightly ironic, I'm now more likely to speak about it than I was before," he said.

"I think, as a Christian in particular, speaking about truth is really important, as Jesus said, 'I am the way the truth and the life.'"

In late June, Randall participated in a panel discussion at the International Religious Freedom Summit held in Washington, D.C. He warned that secular abortion and gender activists have hurt freedoms in countries that have historically championed religious liberty. 

“I was summoned into what I can only describe as an interrogation by the senior leadership," he said. "I was suspended. And I was fired for gross misconduct for doing my job as per the job description."

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