Prison Minister Forced to Quit for Quoting Bible Verses

A man holds a Bible. | (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Chris Yarzab)

A Christian prison minister in the U.K. has said he was forced to quit his job after authorities warned him not to quote verses from the Bible they deemed to be "homophobic."

Cambridge News reported on Monday that although the Rev. Barry Trayhorn, an ordained Pentecostal minister, was not fired from his job, he decided to resign due to the "unfair and aggressive" disciplinary process.

Trayhorn said he was barred from participating in future chapel services after authorities received a complaint following a service back in May, in which he quoted verses from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6.

Verses 9-10 from the New International Version read: "Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

The Daily Mail reported that the minister was acting as a volunteer chaplain at an institution for sex offenders.

Prison authorities argued that reciting such verses breached equality laws.

Trayhorn has said that he was only quoting traditional teachings, and pointed out that inmates where free to leave the service if they were offended. He added that he will be taking HMP Littlehey to an employment tribunal for the disciplinary action.

"I was very angry. All I was doing was preaching the Bible and repeating the same message of repentance that was heard in many services," he said.

Trayhorn also claimed that he was not formally preaching, but due to job-related stress resigned days before a planned disciplinary hearing in November.

He said he was accused in a warning by governor David Taylor that he was guilty of "making 'provocative' statements that breached the prison's code of conduct."

Prison authorities have insisted that they have not discriminated against Trayhorn due to his religious beliefs.

But Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre, which is representing the minister, said: "Mr Trayhorn's words were nothing that couldn't be found in a rural parish church on a Sunday morning and were an explanation of repentance and forgiveness."

She added: "Is the Bible given to prisoners now to be censored to remove anything that people may find difficult to hear?"

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