Trent College Minister Fired as Threat to Students After Criticizing LGBTQ Values

There is an interesting case out of England this month where a chaplain has sued after he was fired and reported as a threat to young students for questioning LGBTQ activists. What is most alarming is the initial response of the courts in dismissing his free speech rights and effectively ratifying the cancel campaign against Rev. Dr. Bernard Randall, an ordained Church of England minister, after he spoke out against LGBTQ identity policies.

      Trent College is affiliated with the Church of England. Rev. Randall sued Trent College in Derbyshire, England, for discrimination, harassment, victimization and unfair dismissal after he was fired after five years as chaplain at Trent College, according to Fox News Digital.  The cause of his termination was a 2019 sermon in which he told students they should be able to reach their own conclusions about the claims of LGBTQ identity politics.

      The Church has previously enlisted Elly Barnes, CEO and founder of the LGBTQ education charity Educate and Celebrate, to train school staff. Barnes reportedly urged staff to chant “smash heteronormativity” during a training session.

      In his sermon to young students ranging in age from 11 to 17 years old, Randall explained the Church of England’s traditional teachings on marriage, sexuality and gender and said that they were not obligated to accept the assertions made by LGBTQ activists. He reminded them that they were entitled under English law to voice and follow their own beliefs. His sermon included this statement:

So, all in all, if you are at ease with “all this LGBT stuff,” you’re entitled to keep to those ideas; if you are not comfortable with it, for the various especially religious reasons, you should not feel required to change. Whichever side of this conflict of ideas you come down on, or even if you are unsure of some of it, the most important thing is to remember that loving your neighbour as yourself does not mean agreeing with everything he or she says; it means that when we have these discussions there is no excuse for personal attacks or abusive language. We should all respect that people on each side of the debate have deep and strongly held convictions.

Here is the full sermon.

      He was immediately set upon by an array of activists demanding his firing. His filing alleges that he was “blacklisted” by the Bishop of Derby, the Rt. Rev. Libby Lane, to prevent his work as a minister. He claims that he was also labeled a “moderate risk to children.”  In July 2021, Randall was also reportedly told that he had to undergo an independent safeguarding assessment by a psychologist who specialized in assessing sex-offenders. He declined.

      Documents also reportedly reveal that a senior member of the diocese objected that “there are a disproportionate number of people who are drawn to schools via the Church who have ‘this way of thinking.’” A team later concluded that Randall represented a “reputational risk” and that these teachings, of the Church of England, present  “a risk factor to itself.”

      At a recent legal hearing at East Midlands Employment Tribunal last September, Employment Judge Victoria Butler was dismissive of any free speech or academic freedom concerns. Butler declared “the duty to safeguard pupils from the risk of harm and the requirement to comply with the Independent Schools Standards Regulator outweigh the Claimant’s right to express his beliefs in the manner he did in a school environment.” Randall is appealing Butler’s ruling.

      The ruling by Butler is regrettably consistent with other cases in the United Kingdom, where free speech is in a virtual free fall.

       The decline of free speech in the United Kingdom has long been a concern for free speech advocates  (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Once you start as a government to criminalize speech, you end up on a slippery slope of censorship. What constitutes hate speech or “malicious communications” remains a highly subjective matter and we have seen a steady expansion of prohibited terms and words and gestures. That now includes criminalizing “toxic ideologies.” 

      In the case of Nicholas Brock, the court gave a neo-Nazi a four-year sentence for what the court called his “toxic ideology.” Police searched Brock’s room and found a montage of hateful symbols as well as weapons, including SS memorabilia and a Ku Klux Klan recognition certificate. Judge Peter Lodder QC declared “I do not sentence you for your political views, but the extremity of those views informs the assessment of dangerousness.” Lodder lambasted Brock, declaring

“[i]t is clear that you are a right-wing extremist, your enthusiasm for this repulsive and toxic ideology is demonstrated by the graphic and racist iconography which you have studied and appeared to share with others… Your bedroom was decorated with SS memorabilia, a framed Ku Klux Klan recognition certificate in your own name was hanging on your wall….You stored documents such as the offensively titled ‘N***er owner’s manual’, you had video clips of Ku Klux Klan discussions about race war, of cross-burning, of decapitation, and a propaganda video of Combat 18, a race-hate neo-Nazi group. The police discovered racist ‘memes’, a copy of the Christchurch mosque murderer’s livestream video and a news clip of the proscribed terrorist group National Action. In addition, your stored photographs of you wearing a balaclava and holding firearms in poses reminiscent of the Combat 18 propaganda, and of you in company with other neo-Nazi sympathisers who were making a Nazi salute.

The degree of your devotion is indicated by your decision to cover your upper body and arms with tattoos of symbols associated with neo-Nazism, SS death head skulls, swastikas and of individuals infamous in Hitler’s Germany.”

What is most striking is that Lodder makes clear that it is harboring these views, not disseminating them or taking action that is the crime.

“It is submitted on your behalf that these are not obscure documents, are not specialist material and that two of them can be purchased on-line. That there was no preparation for any act, and that you are in your 50s, walk with a stick there was no evidence of disseminating to others. I do not sentence you for your political views, but the extremity of those views informs the assessment of dangerousness.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Kath Barnes, Head of Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) acknowledged that others might collect such items for historical or academic purposes but Brock crossed the line because he agreed with the underlying views:

“From the overwhelming evidence shown to the jury, it is clear Brock had material which demonstrates he went far beyond the legitimate actions of a military collector…Brock showed a clear right-wing ideology with the evidence seized from his possessions during the investigation….We are committed to tackling all forms of toxic ideology which has the potential to threaten public safety and security.”

As I noted at the time, this decision showed the slippery slope of censorship in the United Kingdom. What constitutes “toxic” views of “”right-wing extremism” can change and expand over time. In this case, a minister challenging LGBTQ ideology is now considered a threat to students.

      It would seem that there were a myriad of options for the Church beyond termination and alleged blacklisting. It could have presented countervailing views, as it did when it invited Barnes to the school. Instead, the diocese is now being accused of religious discrimination, harassment and a breach of the Equality Act 2010.

      We will continue to follow the case.

36 thoughts on “Trent College Minister Fired as Threat to Students After Criticizing LGBTQ Values”

  1. Is it not “toxic ideology” for a BLM activist to decorate his or her room with images of mass murderers, like Mao and Lenin, posters that advocate violence against cops, articles calling for the death of white people, anything advocating for racism against whites and Asians, and the support of the antisemitic terrorist PLO?

    Shall everyone’s rooms be tossed for what’s considered hate speech? Because the Left lives in glass houses, on both sides of the pond.

    There are 7.5 billion people on this planet. Not all of them are going to be nice or have socially acceptable opinions.

    Laws should govern action, not thought or opinion.

  2. Far Left movements tend to be totalitarian and intolerant of other points of view. Dissenters are harshly punished.

    People were accused of wanting kids to die if they opposed chemically and surgically castrating minors, whose brains are too immature to make such devastating, lifelong choices. Now, detransitioners are suing medical providers for the automatic affirmation assembly line that led to mutilating their immature bodies. Yet, psychiatrists could lose their licenses if they fail to automatically affirm the patient’s ideation.

    Parents are scolded for not wanting all children’s programming to have gay, transgender, queer, and drag queens. You’re a bigot if you thought a Gay Pride parade on the preschooler’s tv show, Blue’s Clues, complete with trans beavers with mastectomy scars, was too confusing for such young children. You’re a bigot if you object to why in Hades grown men would insist on putting on drag shows for young children wearing nothing but a thong, and incorporating sexual moves and toys. Yet, exposing children to such scenes in a movie theater would be illegal. A few years ago, a teacher would be arrested for taking students to see a man in a thong on a stripper pole. Now, the parents are harassed for objecting.

    Activists declare that parents want to “ban books” if they object to gay porn in public school libraries, complete with explicit scenes and in some cases, drawings. Yet, the millions of books in print cannot fit in each school library. The collections are curated to meet the requirements of a school library. A book isn’t banned if it’s not included in a school library. Parents simply want to enforce the standard that reading material be age appropriate, and free from actual porn or scenes that encourage pedophilia. The fact that this is now considered a controversial view among the Left is astonishing.

    It’s reached the Cliffs of Insanity.

    Activists keep tearing down statues and ripping up literature because the subjects were white men of antiquity, with mores of another time. How will future generations view the works of today’s activists, responsible for castrating boys, giving healthy girls mastectomies and drugs that permanently alter their voices, and for showing essentially gay porn to children?

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