Chaplain sacked for Christian views appeals case

Reverend Dr Bernard Randall, an ordained Church of England chaplain who was sacked following a moderate sermon he gave that reflected the Church of England’s teaching on marriage in the school’s Church of England chapel, has initiated legal proceedings against the headteacher of Trent College.

Dr Randall, 51, is pursuing claims of victimisation, ongoing harassment, and discrimination based on his Christian beliefs.

The controversy began in 2019 when Dr Randall was dismissed from Trent College, an independent school with Church of England ethos, after delivering a sermon in the school’s chapel. This sermon, reflecting the Church’s stance on marriage, encouraged debate on identity politics and suggested that students were not obligated to agree with LGBT teachings.

Dr Randall was removed from his chaplain role. A subsequent diocesan investigation deemed him a ‘risk to children’ and labelled the Bible and the Church's teachings on human sexuality as ‘risk factors’. Consequently, Dr Randall has been blacklisted by the Church of England, unable to deliver public sermons since 2020.

In February 2023, an employment tribunal ruled against Dr Randall’s legal claims, which he is now appealing.

Following this decision, Mr Penty referred Dr Randall to the Teaching Regulation Authority (TRA) for a misconduct hearing, potentially barring him indefinitely from teaching Mr Penty also referred Dr Randall to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), which might ban him from working with children or as a vicar.

However, in a significant turn, the TRA decided not to pursue a case against Dr Randall, recognizing that his sermons were delivered from a Christian perspective within a religious setting. Despite this, a decision from the DBS is still pending.

Following the TRA decision, Dr Randall is now pursuing legal action against Mr Penty for continued harassment and discrimination, with a full hearing expected in 2024.

Dr Randall said:

“What has happened sends a message to Christian teachers, and any professional who does not celebrate and promote gender identity in schools, that not only will you be sacked, but you could be barred from the profession indefinitely if you fail to comply.

You can no longer teach or encourage debate among children or adults that there are any viewpoints other than embracing full-on LGBT+ ideology. This is untenable in a truly free and democratic country, and every teacher, pupil and parent should be concerned about the ideology being forced onto schools, often without parents having any knowledge of it”.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre said:

“It should be of concern to everyone when a mild-mannered vicar ends up being reported as a safeguarding risk for saying you can believe marriage is between a man and a woman. If Bernard Randall is deemed not fit to work with children by the Church of England and school authorities, then none of us are safe”.

Christians should be free to express Christian teachings on matters of sexuality, marriage and identity. Free speech is essential for a free society that respects and upholds fundamental human rights. The freedom to live according to your convictions and to speak freely lies at the very heart of all human rights and freedoms.

That’s why HRLA works to ensure that all Australians can peacefully live out their faith and convictions without fear.  We defend the rights of Christians such as Jereth Kok to express their Christian beliefs without fearing for their jobs.