Former school chaplain, Bernard Randall says he was sacked for gross misconduct and reported to the Government’s anti-terrorism programme after delivering a sermon which contained Christian views on sexuality 


In June 2019, I delivered a sermon.

As the ordained Church of England chaplain at Trent College, a school with a Church of England foundation, preaching during a Church of England service in the Church of England chapel (you get my drift…), I didn’t expect any trouble.

The topic was the clash between the views of LGBT activists and majority Christian teaching on marriage, the reality of sex, and gender identity.

Although a sensitive topic, I highlighted the unacceptability of personal attacks or abuse, and encouraged respect for those with whom we disagree. I explicitly said make up your mind, and that if you agree with the LGBT activists that’s fine. You can read the sermon in full for yourself here.

But for my trouble I was reported to the police under the Government Prevent anti-terrorism programme, and sacked for gross misconduct. All this for saying in pretty moderate terms things the Church of England teaches, in accordance with my job description and what one might expect of an ordained person. I was reinstated on appeal, but with a final written warning, and a list of 20 conditions, including censorship of all sermons in advance and not broaching anywhere in the school any topic which might upset or cause offence to anyone.

At the same time, the school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead reported me to the Local Authority Designated Officer for safeguarding (the LADO). As if delivering a sermon to a congregation was “persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development.” That’s the definition in the policy she was (supposed to be) working from.

Thankfully, neither the police nor the LADO saw any need to take any action or carry out an investigation. Allegedly the police officer did comment that the sermon was “wholly inappropriate for…society in general.” That police officer was speaking about a sermon which the House of Bishops later confirmed contained “nothing outside the doctrine of the Church of England.” Make of that what you will.

However, I was no longer allowed to teach, and Covid was used as a reason to make me redundant at the end of 2020.

I took the school to an Employment Tribunal for discrimination and unfair dismissal. I lost. The ruling said it was inappropriate for the sermon to use persuasive language like “You may believe,” and that I had gone way beyond permissible teaching and risked causing harm. But since the judgment only quoted about 20 words of the sermon, out of context, I’ve no idea what I said that was so unacceptable, or why.

Supported by Christian Concern, who have been alongside me both legally and pastorally since July 2019, I’m appealing against this decision. That will likely be heard later in 2024, and I honestly think the prospects are good. The higher up the court system one goes, the more sensible the judges tend to be.

Assert your rights, brothers and sisters, do not back down or apologise for speaking what you believe to be true

But after the ruling, the school’s Head decided to refer me to the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) and the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). This really felt like punishment for bringing the case, and could have seen me banned from working in schools, from Church ministry and from working with children in any circumstances. Both the TRA and DBS initially looked like taking action. The TRA said it was misconduct to suggest “LGBT+ ideologies were incorrect and/or adverse to Christian beliefs;” and that “Pupils did not have to accept views and/or ideologies of LGBT+ activists.” So much for truth or freedom of conscience. The DBS seemed to think that causing upset is the same as harming someone.

In the end both the TRA and DBS decided to take no further action, after some pretty robust responses from me. Assert your rights, brothers and sisters, do not back down or apologise for speaking what you believe to be true. 

I have now been cleared by Prevent, the LADO, the TRA and the DBS (who disagree with the Employment Judge). All the statutory agencies. You might think apart from the appeal I can move on with life. Alas not.

The Diocese of Derby launched a safeguarding investigation against me back in 2019. I still don’t know exactly why, because they refuse to tell me. At first it seemed to be the content of the sermon, but then it shifted to being not the sermon contents, but the fact that I thought it was OK to give the sermon. Or that disputing that the sermon was a safeguarding matter was a safeguarding issue in itself. Or that there was nothing wrong with the sermon, but I might repeat the ideas in a one-to-one pastoral conversation with someone. They concluded that since some Church scriptures support my position, “the Church itself may also be a risk factor, to be used to justify Reverend Randall’s opinions.” That’s a Church officer writing that. So I am also seeking justice with regard to my bishop’s endorsement of all this, and the actions of the diocesan safeguarding team. Watch this space. They are guilty, I believe, of anti-Christian discrimination.

In all this I’m tempted to say that the Gospel is the intended victim. Yet the real victory has already been won.