97 — The Freedom to Believe or Not To with Rev. Bernard Randall
Today’s interview might be a bit different from what our listeners are used to, and we think it’s crucial to recognize the many arenas of life where gender identity beliefs have been elevated. Not only elevated over progressive or classically liberal institutions but even within religious institutions, which you might think are inoculated from a radical gender-identity takeover.
Our guest, Bernard Randall initially studied Classics and Ancient History (the subject of his Ph.D.), but after feeling the call to ministry he added theology to his studies and was ordained in the Church of England in 2006. After a spell in parish ministry, he entered educational chaplaincy in 2011, first in a Cambridge University college, and then at Trent College, a fee-paying K-12 school near Nottingham with a Church of England foundation. He had a general awareness of the issues around gender and gender identity but was forced to face them head-on in 2018 with the arrival of Educate and Celebrate, a pro-LGBT+ program in his school. Randall completely agreed with the organization’s aim of eradicating homophobic bullying, but when staff was instructed to charismatically chant “smash heteronormativity,” Bernard felt this was at odds with Christian beliefs. When a pupil requested, in 2019, that he give a sermon in the chapel outlining some of the differences between traditional Christian beliefs and LGBT ideology, he decided to take this request very seriously. He carefully crafted the sermon to honor everyone’s right to believe what they believe. He encouraged pupils to make up their own minds about these contemporary LGBTQ issues, but also to respect those with whom they disagreed. He was initially sacked for gross misconduct but then reinstated with a final written warning and censorship of all his sermons. When COVID-19 struck, he was put on furlough and eventually made redundant. He has sued the school for religious discrimination and unfair dismissal. The court hearing was in September this year, with the result not likely to be handed down before January 2023.
This is a remarkable discussion. In addition to Bernard’s story, we also delve into some of the philosophical and therapeutic issues with things like ex-gay, detrans, emotional fragility, and whether or not we put enough trust in young people’s resilience. This is our conversation with Bernard Randall.
- News Story on the Case:
- Live Tweet of the Case:
- Bernard’s Sermon:
- Bernard’s father is a retired Vicar and then God called upon Bernard to become an ordained priest as well.
- When Bernard promised to be the public face of Christian truth he did so with resolve.
- In 2015, he joined the school as a school chaplain and teacher.
- At the school in 2018, the pro-LGBTQ+ Educate and Celebrate organization gave staff training in queer theory and pushed their political agenda.
- Bernard felt forced to investigate the organization’s ideas because moral and ethical matters were his responsibility as school chaplain.
- Educate and Celebrate expected the school to adopt the entire program, which was not appropriate in Bernard’s view.
- After delivering a sermon about the differences between Christian beliefs and the LBTGQ+ agenda he was given, Bernard was interrogated by the school.
- Stella believes Bernard’s sermon to be moderate with lovely messaging.
- The school’s staff wrote emails of complaint and concern about his sermon but no one addressed Bernard in person.
- In addition, Bernard was reported to a government counter-terrorism watchdog named Prevent.
- Bernard was released from duty for gross misconduct.
- Bernard appealed to the board of trustees and was reinstated but his sermons were to be censored.
- Bernard has witnessed activists on both sides of the issue ignoring the gray areas in the middle of their beliefs.
- Stella believes people can believe whatever they want as long as they hold it in a way that doesn’t push it on other people.
- The adolescent experience should include ups and downs.
- Bernard is being supported by a group named Christian Concern.