Enemy of faith in public space – Muslims or secularists?

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Another casualty of the ‘liberal left’ is a Christian prison volunteer forced to resign for quoting the Bible in a chapel service prisoners chose to go to. Once again aggressive secularism tips its hand as a greater enemy to Christians than Muslims ever were. In fact many fair-minded Muslims are as concerned as me about the subtle repression of faith in public space in Britain today.

Barry Trayhorn worked as a prison gardener and chapel volunteer at HMP Littlehey, a prison for sex offenders. In a prison chapel service Barry – an ordained minister – quoted from memory the passage in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. This speaks about people who had been forgiven a number of sins, including adultery, greed, drunkenness and homosexual activity.

Four days after the service, a complaint was made about Mr Trayhorn’s orthodox Christian teaching, and he was immediately barred from participating in future chapel services. Over the following weeks, further issues were raised aggressively by the prison authorities about his conduct as a gardener at the prison, prompting disciplinary procedures.

Barry eventually felt he should resign saying that he had been harassed because of his Christian faith and that it was no longer possible for him to return to work, given the way that he had been treated. Two days after his resignation, a disciplinary hearing was held in his absence, at which he was given a final written warning.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Barry was represented by Standing Counsel Mr Paul Diamond in a challenge the Tribunal which ruled in the prison’s favour saying the disciplinary was not discriminating against his Christian faith; and that Barry had spoken of God’s forgiveness in an “insensitive” way which “failed to have regard for the special nature of the congregation in the prison”.

One of Barry’s witnesses gave evidence in his favour at Tribunal, saying that the chapel services helped him find faith. This evidence was disregarded and the appeal was rejected. Barry will fight on saying about the Tribunal’s judgment:

 ‘It’s alarming on a number of fronts…The Tribunal’s reasoning was based on the effect that my message, which included the Bible verses, had on those who heard them. Yet those who attend chapel do so voluntarily to worship God and to learn what the Bible has to say.

…But the prison decided that it wasn’t a politically correct message. The mere mention of homosexual behaviour in the Bible verses I quoted provoked complaint. It’s the Bible which is really on trial.’

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

 ‘It’s our privilege to stand with Barry during the next stage…as he challenges the Tribunal’s decision. If the courts won’t recognise the way some Christians are being treated for living faith at work; and that the gospel can’t be spoken [even] in a chapel service prisoners voluntarily chose to attend, then where will we encounter such censorship next?

 It’s time to pray for the soul of our country!

Source: Christian Concern, April 26th, 2017


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