prison chaplain
Mission

Prison chaplains may no longer convict offenders of sin: preaching must be ‘sensitive’

Remember the case of the Rev’d Barry Trayhorn, the ‘tent-maker’ (gardener) volunteer prison chaplain at HMP Littlehey in Cambridgeshire? Being an ordained minister in the Pentecostal Church, he quoted Scripture (1Cor 6:9-11) during a prison church service he was leading. He warned the congregation of their sin and told them of God’s mercy and love for those who repent. The sins specified included sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, theft, greed, drunkenness and slander: these are the sorts of things which will keep you out of God’s Kingdom, he preached as the Holy Spirit led him.

No one was obliged to attend this service: inmates are not coerced in religion; attendance is entirely voluntary.

But a complaint was made by a prisoner to the prison’s Managing Chaplain, the Rev’d David Kinder. It came via the prison’s LGBT co-ordinator, and was as follows:

Whilst in the chapel Sat pm 31/5/14. During the service Barry the gardener instructor gave his sermon which included God hating prostitutes and gays.

As one of God’s soldiers and a follower of Jesus Christ I found this most offensive and regardless of my orientation he had no right to incite hatred towards anyone or judge anyone. The Bible provides forgiveness and acceptance of all as God’s followers. We should be promoting and not self-interpretation of a single person’s own thoughts and feelings and has also broken prison protocol over quality. This could have had severe consequences via bullying or self harming.

In answer to the question on the complaint form which asked what the prisoner would like to see done about his complaint, he answered: “The prison population should be assured this cannot happen again and that the prison does not support this person’s personal views.”

Barry Trayhorn was duly suspended (ie prevented from leading future church services) and subjected to a barrage of disciplinary hearings (five of them, in fact). The principal one was that of “unprofessional conduct – that on Saturday 31st May 2014 during a Pentecostal service whilst you were leading worship as a Chaplaincy volunteer you made homophobic statements…”

Suffering stress and depression, he felt he had no choice but to resign. He wrote: “The situation I find myself in now makes it impossible for me to continue to work at HMP Littlehey and I regard my situation as one of constructive dismissal because of the way that I have been treated.” He took his case to an Employment Tribunal and lost, basically on the grounds that expressions of religious belief must be subject an institution’s Disciplinary and Equalities Policies as a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate aim of maintaining order and safety in the prison. It wasn’t so much the quoting of Scripture which was the problem, but the ‘insensitive’ preaching and teaching which followed, as the ET expounded:

(vi) It is clear from his own evidence, however, that what the Claimant said on 31st May 2014 at the relevant service went far beyond a mere quotation of scripture. In addition, we are reminded of the evidence of Rev. Kinder that it was important to both contextualise and approach with sensitivity within the Christian spirit of forgiveness the delivery of Christian message, particularly within the confines of the prison environment. Both PR3 and the Rev. Nyandoro, in the evidence they gave to the investigation conducted by Mr Moore, confirmed that the Claimant’s comments went far beyond the quotation of Scripture – he was in his own words to that investigation “teaching and preaching”.

(vii) It is clear and we conclude that the difficulties which the Claimant experienced as a result of the service on 31st May 2014 were due to the lack of context, the lack of sensitivity of approach and the encouragement by the Claimant of the congregation to raise complaint about him. We have not been taken to any part of the Conduct and Disciplinary Policy nor the Equality of Treatment for Employees Policy which is said to put neither the Claimant as an individual nor those of a Christian faith (or those of the Pentecostal denomination) at disadvantage, singly or as a group. Professor Kay does not say that, the Claimant does not say that and it was not put to the Respondent’s witnesses that there was such an impact in relation to the Claimant or those defined groups.

So you can quote Scripture to your heart’s content as long as you do it sensitively and get your exegesis and Sitz im Leben right.

Is a Pentecostal prison chaplain now obliged to understand and interpret Scripture the same way as liberal Anglicans? Or is it that they must all conform to the drowsy liberal Anglican mode of preaching? Is the State similarly obliging Muslim chaplains to grapple with quranic literary genres and set Mohammed’s conduct in ancient societal context? Certainly, if you take a verse of scripture out of its context the original meaning may often be lost. But is it really for the State to determine what is God’s word to all people for all time, and what is God’s word to a specific people in a particular time?

In an interview for Christian Concern, Barry Trayhorn explained:

“I simply said what the Bible says. Prisoners have a right to hear God’s word, just as much as anyone else. If people come to a Christian chapel service, we cannot keep God’s message from them. As I led the worship, I spoke about the wonder of God’s love and the forgiveness that comes through Jesus to those who recognise their sin and repent. I said that I am the worst sinner I know.

“But that wasn’t politically correct. The mere mention of homosexual behaviour in the Bible verses that I quoted provoked complaint. I was immediately barred from taking part in chapel services and trouble came my way. I was put under enormous pressure. This is about the expression of Christian faith. I am being punished simply for daring to say what the Bible says.”

The Employment Tribunal decision was appealed, and the judgment handed down yesterday by the Honourable Mrs Justice Slade DBE. Despite the reasonableness of the defence argument made by barrister Paul Diamond – namely that church services should be free from interference in matters of theology; and that Pentecostalists suffer ‘group disadvantage’ if they may not express their firm views on what constitutes sin – it was determined that the Employment Tribunal did not err in its judgment that expressions of religious belief in a prison church service must conform to State orthodoxy where Equality is concerned.

The context is prisons: this has nothing to do with public acts of worship in church buildings. But this judgment clearly has implications for Christian chaplaincies in all secular institutions – hospitals, schools, the armed forces, universities, shopping centres and work places. Wherever chaplains provide a listening ear, spiritual guidance, emotional support or a service of divine worship, God’s love must be filtered through the lens of Equality, and God’s word must be purged of anything which may be interpreted as ‘hate’.

But here’s a thing…

When we get past the ubiquitous vapid rainbows and orgasmic unicorns of Gay Pride shoving ‘Love is God’ boozy-orgies down the throats of sensitive heterosexuals, gay men are still six times more susceptible to committing suicide than heterosexual men, and half of LGBT students are reportedly bullied at school. It is a very real persecution which can have devastating consequences for their families. Young gay men who are incarcerated in a Young Offender Institute may already be over-burdened with guilt; lonely, depressed, isolated or fearful. Who knows their deepest inner sexual struggles or what mental health problems they suffer? Who knows what bullying traumas they’ve experienced growing up which has brought them to where they are? Does a prison chaplain ever ask to see their scars?

Shouldn’t a church service in a prison be concerned first and foremost with creating a welcoming space of love and mercy? If St Paul can live like Jew when working with the Jews, or like a Gentile when working with Gentiles in order to win them for Christ (1Cor 9:20ff), what is wrong with living like a young offender in order to minister to their needs? St Paul became all things to all men in order that all might be saved. He was not subject to the Law of Moses, but lived as though he were when working with those who are. He lived like a Gentile, outside the Jewish Law, in order to win Gentiles. He didn’t bark sin and judgment at them or preach that they’re all going to hell in a handcart. Being under Christ’s law permitted him missiological flexibility and a practical theological approach to facilitate participation in God’s plan of redemption: ‘To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak‘ (v22).

Young offenders are weak. They feel worthless, hopeless and helpless, and they cry at night.

Is it really helpful for a prison chaplain to heap red-hot coals of sin and retribution on the already-bowed heads of convicted youngsters? How many of these are likely to attend a church service when they leave prison? What may hinder them from doing so? What is wrong with a little restorative pastoral sensitivity in your preaching and teaching?

  • IanCad

    Hell – Fire and Brimstone preachers are unhelpful in a stressful prison environment. Mercy , compassion, hope; the sort of thing those drowsy, liberal Anglicans are still rather good at.

    • Marcus Stewart

      Ian: The two ‘poles’ you cite are not, and should not be, mutually exclusive, but are the flip sides of Christian theology, which an authentic presentation of the gospel ought to be able to present without hysterical reaction to the notion of sinfulness. I’m not suggesting that you’re saying this; but as we don’t know what this chap said we can’t assume that his presentation was unbalanced. Even if it were, it seems to me that the question is whether disciplinary action was appropriate – which I find astonishing. If it *were*, evangelical Anglican, protestant and RC chaplains better watch their backs and wait for the P45 per their theological exegesis of two millennia…

      • IanCad

        Marcus,
        Couldn’t agree more – no matter what he said it should not have been a cause for any disciplinary procedures.
        We live in a chilling age where freedom of speech – and even thought – is no longer a given.

        • Marcus Stewart

          Indeed: the intolerance of liberalism: we’ve seen it in the bosom – CofE PLC, the dross of which it spouts couldn’t be made up.

          I’d dearly love to know how PS management would have treated a complaint against an imam…

      • Anton

        For evangelical Anglicans the P45 is coming, and from the liberal CoE rather than the State!

        • Marcus Stewart

          Anton: too right!

    • Marcus Stewart

      Totally with you that pastoral sensitivity is acutely important in prison ministry, but that a firm message of the need for all to be redeemed is absolutely balanced by the Good News (for people who’ve had a lot of bad…)

      On the gay thing, my line in prison would be that ‘there are two theologically legitimate views’ and each is properly permissible; that holding a ‘traditional’ view of scripture and tradition is absolutely legitimate and ought to be able to be expressed in discussion (and people’s right to express it upheld). It is only when that view is expressed insistently, unwantedly, in a manner that exhibits aggression that it becomes harassing and hence homophobic. Conversely, similar stance TO those who hold this view is harassing and must attract equal sanction. But don’t hold your breath that it would!

  • Sarky

    “Is it really helpful for a prison chaplain to heap red-hot coals of sin and retribution on the already-bowed heads of convicted youngsters?”

    Is it really helpful for any chaplain to heap it on anyone??

    I have spoken to many many christians over many many years and the quickest way to switch me off is the old ‘sin and retribution’. Before i get the standard “its because you relish in your sin” reply, its really not. To be honest you sound like a bunch of nutters painting a picture of me that couldn’t be any further from the truth. The best conversations I’ve had with christians have been non judgemental with the other person showing genuine interest and not trying scare me into faith.

    • Anton

      Do you think you know the truth about yourself?

      That’s a good question to ask anybody, by the way, not just you!

      • Sarky

        Do i know the truth about myself?

        Better than anybody.

        • Anton

          Equally, though, perhaps you disguise it better from yourself than from others?

          • Sarky

            Erm…dont think so.

          • Anton

            I’ll bet you don’t!

            If you told your mates what you thought most deeply of the way they live their lives and interact with their families and others, even while you love them because they are your mates, what do you think would happen? Or if they did the same to you, bearing in mind that you are basically the same as they?

          • Sarky

            What would happen? Nothing.
            Because i would have nothing bad to say.

          • Anton

            You must have a unique bunch of mates!

          • Sarky

            I am careful with my choice of friends.

        • Marcus Stewart

          … but God.

          • Sarky

            Like i said…better than anybody.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            Except God. And, of course, you are busily pretending to yourself that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with you, much as you pretend there is no God.

          • Sarky

            I stopped doing pretend by the time i was ten.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            You’ve never stopped pretending.

          • Sarky

            No, thats you Martin.

          • Marcus Stewart

            Sarky – sorry, I wasn’t paying proper attention! BW, Marcus

      • Indeed. The truth about ourselves as well as all other truth is God’s perspective and not ours; his perspective is that we have all sinned and fallen short of his glory.

    • alternative_perspective

      I dislike the sin and damnation line also, in many ways it is unhelpful as the Christian tends to be talking from a worldview that is nearly alien to the non-Christian. We assume because we share a language we share the same meanings and values – we don’t.

      That being said, I came to faith from an intellectual position. I simply found the arguments for deism / theism to have great explanatory power. I simply couldn’t bring my self to believe in a spontaneously, “magically”, created universe ex nihilo – one that displays all the hallmarks of intelligence, order and intelligibility and where there seemed to be a distinct moral order and believe these occur by necessity or chance, I found it quite incredulous.

      Then after numerous years of searching – trying to understand the shape of this belief I engaged with Christianity – though only after looking at Hinduism and Islam first. The doctrine of grace shocked me. It was totally counter intuitive. No human endeavour could win me peace with my creator, no laws or self-justification would carry me there. God’s love, his action had already accomplished this I just needed to accept it, to answer the phone as it were. It totally disempowers humanity, takes away our ability to win, compete or glory in self-justification. We can’t create laws to measure ourselves by, to manipulate or bend – there simply is no space left for human self-aggrandisement. In short – it is not a doctrine a human would create. Moreover it brings true liberty for even the greatest of wrongdoings. Yes, deep and sincere repentance & reconciliation are needed but there is no sin too great, no law so severe or standard so infinite that I could break, which God could not rescue me from. Consider what this means for those who’ve been raised in a karmic system or those used to self-justification by law keeping or those who’ve been told there is no “sin” yet feel intense and unending guilt. It is quite literally absolute liberty and life.

      Absolute liberty and life: secured not by any human endeavour but through infinite grace, in exchange for what – humility, a broken and contrite heart, giving up the delusion of personal, radical autonomy. In short this doctrine was divine.

      So I became a Christian. A fairly liberal one, won over by God’s radical love in Jesus.

      Years passed.

      I lived in grace but as a liberal Christian. All my secular friends considered me the most moral, right standing and considerate individual they knew but as I read the Bible I increasingly realised I was not nearly as moral, right standing and considerate as I’d like to have believed. They judged me according to the average and the lowest common denominator. But God I realised was asking me to judge myself against perfection – the best – Jesus. Then one day in the midst of a service God revealed to me, personally, just a little bit of the darkness I had within – it was quite literally terrible. In that moment my pretences about my liberal Christianity came crashing down.

      My sin, is.

      It is real and it is far more horrific than I can actually understand. I have been de-sensitised to it after years of immersion in it. I do not understand how truly evil and wicked sin actually is – none of us do. I don’t think we could function if we did, I think it would totally destroy us and overwhelm our ability to think, to reason and live. This I have come to realise is another act of grace – a knowledge of evil which God has spared us from. And yet his gift still stands – absolute life and liberty even though there is no degree of sorrow, no depth of repentance or diligence of reconciliation I can ever perform which can ever come close to compensating God. He hides the cost of this grace in that broken body on the cross. So all I am left with – is grace. To look upon that cross, to ponder and to try to order my life accordingly.

      But this was a journey of years. I would not have understood the end point had I not travelled the path but God, still, allowed me to start where I did – blissfully unaware of the darkness within. And he waited for me and today, still he waits.

      As the old carol recites:

      What can I give Him, poor as I am?
      If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
      If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
      Yet what I can I give Him… give my heart.
      It seems so little yet to God it means so much.

      • Sarky

        “The idea of ‘original sin’ is one of the most obscene to have ever emerged from the human brain: just imagine how disgusting it is – how unhealthy, how unhelpful – to regard every human being as wicked by default, so wicked that they deserve to spend an eternity writhing in hellfire. So inherently wicked that, no matter how much good they do in their lives – no matter how kind, how generous, how compassionate, how forgiving, how self-sacrificing, how charitable – they can never stop deserving that eternal fiery fate.

        And this from a religion that claims to be about love! What is it that makes Christianity a religion of love? It is the claim that God loves us, despite how truly, awfully, dreadfully, appallingly wicked we all are, even at the moment of our birth! Christianity defines the extent of God’s supposed love for us by the extent of our supposed depravity! It is a truly disgusting philosophy.

        Does this mean I think I and all other humans are perfect? No, of course not. Perfect would be unspeakably tedious, anyway. We are all a mixture of good and bad, all capable of acts of great generosity as well as of meanness. We are the products of our genes, our upbringing, our general cultural shaping and our circumstances. But generally speaking when I look around me, I see people who are doing their best, often under very difficult circumstances. I see people who look out for their family and friends, who give what they can, despite sometimes having very little themselves. I see people coping with illness and poverty; doing grindingly awful jobs; facing up to adversity of all kinds. And I see them doing it with an astonishing degree of resilience, cheerfulness, and generosity.

        You can write these people off as ‘sinners’ if you wish, but I would expect any thoughtful person who had not been infected by the virus of Christianity to be able to rise to higher levels of empathy and tolerance.”

        • Broadwood

          “You can write these people off as ‘sinners’ if you wish” – but he didn’t. I don’t think you read it properly, Sarky.

          • Sarky

            I dont think you did.

          • Broadwood

            His first sentence – “I dislike the sin and damnation line also, in many ways it is unhelpful
            as the Christian tends to be talking from a worldview that is nearly
            alien to the non-Christian. We assume because we share a language we
            share the same meanings and values – we don’t.”

            I think you’ve just proved the point.

          • Sarky

            He might have posted a cuddly version, but it still boils down to sin.

        • Hi,

          I agree that the original sin theology is a nonsense . I would say that people have the capacity to do good and evil and are judged by God for their their actions and not beliefs.

          • alternative_perspective

            Quite, faith is a matter of action. Mere belief is insufficient. Even the demons believe God is one and shudder.

          • Hi

            But, but , but , I am repeatedly told by “Bible believing ” Christians & Messianic Jews , that the ONLY way to heaven is to believe in Jesus of Nazareth , worship him and ask him for forgiveness of my sins. Only by repentance and “asking him into my life” via the sinners prayers can I be “saved”. Or hell awaits, one person even added a very creepy video of what this is like .

            Therefore my understanding is that the drug dealer you mention who becomes a sincere Christian gets off scott free and would go to heaven , but if his victims never “knew Christ” then they’d be off to hell. Also if Eichmann (may he be blotted out forever) had actually have become a Christian before his trial and execution , then he’d have gone to heaven. But the six million Jews who he helped to murder wouldn’t be there as they weren’t followers etc in Jesus .

            All of that doesn’t seem just to my mind.

            My parents and grandparents are , so I’m told by Christians , in hell right now for being “disbelieving Jews” . To avoid to same fate , I should, so I’m told, repent and acknowledge Jesus as my” lord and saviour”. Except I could not do that , even if I was inclined. What would I become if I were in heaven and watching the people I love being tortured in hell? That’s not humanly possible.

          • Anton

            The key point that you seem to me not to be taking into account is that we all deserve hell.

          • Hi

            Yes, you are quite right looking at my emails this is mentioned by those Christians (because of original and personal sin) , I will add a sentence to that effect .

          • alternative_perspective

            Hi Hannah, I’m just about to head home but will try to message you back later.

          • Hi

            As you haven’t messaged me. You can catch me on my blog.

          • Dominic Stockford

            “Repent and believe”

            So said a certain person. This is the only way to heaven. If you do then you’re away, if you don’t you are acting contrary to his direct instruction. Who was it who said this?

          • Hi

            repent yes, but believe what?

          • Dominic Stockford

            in the Lord Jesus Christ.

            Which as 1 Corinthians 12 makes clear contains a lot more than merely thinking he’s a good bloke…

          • Sarky

            Its funny Hannah, but you will never get a straight answer regarding the christian loophole of repentance.
            They will tell you that without god there is no ultimate justice, but fail to see the actual injustice of their belief.

          • Anton

            We all deserve hell. Some get better than that, the rest don’t. Nobody gets worse than they deserve so where’s the injustice?

          • Sarky

            The starting point of ‘we all deserve hell’.

          • Anton

            The world was once perfect. One sin is enough to mar that permanently. That’s how bad sin is and we all do things wrong. Heaven is gong to be perfect and God can’t let people in who retain a propensity to sin or it will all happen again.

          • Sarky

            But he’ll let in disgusting people who have repented.

          • Anton

            After changing them in full.

          • Sarky

            Peado priests???

          • Sarky

            Rubbish.

          • IanCad

            Hannah, Many, many Christians no longer embrace the vile doctrine of eternal punishment. Most notably the SDA’s and the CofE. Other denominations are coming around as well.

          • Hi

            I was quick to note the people to say it. Bible believing (i.e. evangelical and charismatic) as they call themselves and their corollary messianic Jews. But wouldn’t you be classified as a liberal or heretic for saying that ?

          • IanCad

            Certainly wouldn’t consider myself a liberal, at least not in the modern sense of the term. Neither should adopting a biblically based position confronting long held errors be considered heretical.

          • Anton

            Nope, just wrong. He’s no liberal, and ‘heretic’ is properly reserved for unscriptural views of the divine rather than of other matters. The New Testament is clear about this matter.

          • Martin

            Hannah

            You have a very human oriented view of sin. Primarily sin is against God. But, since your concern is mainly with mankind you won’t like that.

          • Anton

            Please see and feel free to critique my reply to Sarky on the subject, above.

          • Sarky

            Christians cant drop original sin though. No fall, no need for jesus.

          • Hi

            Yes I can see that would be a problem for them. Ah, I’m biting my tongue as I will get into one of those pointless discussions.

          • Sarky

            Are they the ones that end up with you screaming at the laptop and banging your head on a table?

          • Anton

            You too still enjoy listening to Deep Purple all those years on?

          • Hi

            Yes and also because I became aware that Christianity says Jews are spiritually blinded. So if I’ve fact checking my bible for new testament claims and decide my bible doesn’t reflect Christianity (my bible is supposed to support the new testament claims) , it isn’t because of any logic or intelligent review , but because supernaturally Satan or God has deliberately and somehow made me blind to the new testament teaching. So why bother if people think I’m like that? Of course Paul had to say so in the new testament because he has to explain away why Jews mostly rejected his message , but gentiles who didn’t know the Hebrew bible , did. Same today.

            [However I sometimes can’t help myself and I’m happy to explain my views on original sin etc, depending on my mood.]

          • IanCad

            Wrong Sarky. Many Christians do not accept the 4th cent. theology of Augustine. Neither, I should add, do all embrace the doctrine of eternal, never-ending Hell. An affront to the mercy and grace of God.

          • Anton

            It’s a bit more involved than that; please have a look at the exposition I’m attempted above.

          • IanCad

            Anton,
            You’d better believe it’s more involved than “That.” Possibly no subject has consumed more time and paper than the Original Sin doctrine. This is probably not the thread in which to pursue the controversy. I don’t accept the doctrine and I honour your position, and, in a more suitable season maybe we will get to state our respective cases.
            Then of course we have the Sabbath and Eternal Hell to sort out.

          • Anton

            I don’t accept the Augustinian view either, as I said.

          • IanCad

            And after a more careful reading of your last paragraph I can see that.

        • alternative_perspective

          Sarky, I didn’t even mention “original sin”. In fact I believe the Orthodox church doesn’t have that teaching, I understand this concept as a product of the Western church.
          Did I write anywhere that there isn’t generosity, in the human spirit?
          Did I write anywhere that God doesn’t take all of these ups and downs in to account?
          Did I write anywhere that people were “written off”?
          Did I write anywhere about hell?
          No, these are all your doing – I mentioned none of it.
          You thrown around words like virus and obscene but they don’t relate to anything I’ve written.
          I think what you’ve written is more a reflection of your own personality and hang-ups – that you’ve read into my text than what I wrote?
          I write about God’s seemingly unending tolerance, about giving absolute and unmitigated life and liberty – irrespective of one’s backgrounds and messy circumstances – and you damn it.
          I sense you simply don’t like the idea there is some degree of moral accountability to which we will all be held – that is of course implicit in what I’ve written. But let us reverse the argument. What you seem to be arguing for is a world free of any moral accountability and recompense.
          So the very people who struggle and strive to do their best – against the odds will never get reward. So those born to privilege and ease, who are never held to account and commit wrong doings – will never be held to account. So the drug dealer who causes so much misery, who is never caught and lives a life of wealth and prosperity is never judged.
          So the innocent children, throughout all time, who have suffered and died, especially at the hands of violent people – will share the same fate as the one’s who abused and murdered them?
          You are arguing for massive injustice. There is nothing compassionate or loving about that.

          • Sarky

            And the drug dealer who lives a life of luxury, repents and spends eternity in heaven. The murderer repents and spends eternity in heaven whilst his atheist victims burn in hell. Some justice.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Correct. Perfect justice.

          • Sarky

            And why i could never be a christian.

          • Anton

            Is it possible that something to do with why you ceased to be one is also part of that claim?

          • Sarky

            I never was one. I attended church until i was 18, but i never classed myself as a christian.

        • Anton

          It is possible that you are reacting against an atheist parody of the notion of original sin.

          Not all Christians or believing Jews have the same understanding of it. I’ll tell you what I think, and I welcome your reply (regardless of tone).

          First, we believe that the human race started off a lot better than it is today. No thought of evil ever entered its head. But instead of trusting God and his instructions, our ancestors wished to taste evil, to know what it felt like. They got that knowledge alright, but the trouble is that it changed them for the worse. They weren’t the same as they had been before. They developed an appetite for it. And that appetite runs in the family down the generations. Children have to be taught to be good whereas being bad comes ‘naturally’. Twas not ever thus.

          That’s only part of it. The other part is that we actually share in what our ancestors did wrong. HOW we share in it is what Christians (and Jews) aren’t unanimous about. My take on it is that it is like a family in Munich who lives in an apartment they inherited from their father, who took it from a Jewish family during WW2. They have done nothing wrong as individuals but they are beneficiaries of an evil act in the past and as such owe something, which if it were taken they would experience as punishment.

          Whether or not you agree, does that make any kind of sense?

          (NB The view of St Augustine of Hippo is that the reason we share in the guilt of our ancestors is that we were part of them, in their loins. That view is criticised by Jews and Eastern Orthodox Christians and I agree with the criticism but don’t think they have put a cogent alternative.)

          • Sarky

            Like i replied to Hannah, you need original sin and the fall. Without it, no need for jesus and therefore no christianity.
            Personally i find the whole notion vile.

          • Anton

            Ah, you don’t want to engage with my comment – why children have to be taught good but not evil, and how we all share in the sins of ancestors. Pity. But dialogue requires two consenting adults and I wish you well.

          • Sarky

            Theres no need to engage. Dress it up all you want, i still find it vile.

          • Anton

            OK. Why do you think it is that children have to be taught good but not evil, and did my example of how we all share in the sins of our ancestors make sense to you?

          • Sarky

            Children don’t have to be taught good anymore more than they intrinsically know evil. Its just human nature.
            As for your analogy, it just doesnt work does it? What those people’s ancestors did was wrong, but it’s also wrong for the descendents to be put in that situation. They didn’t do the wrong and although technically they will be punished, its not fair.

          • Martin

            Anton

            Sarky is happy with his own erroneous view, he keeps it as his justification.

          • Jonathan

            “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6

          • Sarky

            You’re just full of cliches tonight.

          • Jonathan

            We are on “archbishopcramner”‘s blog and you say quoting scriptures are cliches! Its clear you are an atheist troll. And your raison d’etre is to try to waste everyone’s time and try to get a rise out of the other bloggers. No more for me, count me out. Blocking you with immediate effect…

          • Sarky

            Bless you.

        • Martin

          Sarky

          I corrected you, I believe, on the subject of original sin a little while ago, so you’ve really no excuse. We are all condemned for our own sin, and surely it is the height of evil to rebel against the one who gives you life.

          It is shocking to hate your parents, especially if all they have shown you is love, but how much more shocking to hate your creator as you do.

          • Sarky

            I cant hate something i don’t believe in

          • Martin

            Sarky

            Trouble is, you know God exists.

          • Sarky

            Martin, if this is your only comeback (to everything) then all it does is expose the weakness of your position.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            You have problem with the truth.

          • Sarky

            Yep, people like you don’t see it.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            I see the truth all right, the problem is that you reject it.

          • Sarky

            I do.

          • Jonathan

            “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” Psalm 14:1

          • Sarky

            Congratulations, thats about the 100th time ive had that posted to me.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            Then it’s about time you took it to heart.

          • Sarky

            Its meaningless to me.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            What you really mean is that you know it fits you but you refuse to accept it. Your corrupt heart will not accept it.

          • Sarky

            Nope, its meaningless to me.

        • Jonathan

          “For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” Acts 8:23

          • Sarky

            Oh, and there’s another one.

          • Here we go – bunker time as the missiles are made ready for launching.

          • Sarky

            Their a bit like a north korean missile, never hit the target.

          • Firing blanks, more like.

        • That’s actually not an entirely accurate account of original sin, Sarky. It’s a prominent “Reformed” which view claims we are all born utterly depraved and utterly damnable and utterly reliant on God preselecting some for heaven, and then equipping these few to get there whilst leaving others hopelessly floundering in their total depravity without any assistance. It’s as much an anti-Gospel as the liberal reaction that all good people are good and get to heaven by good deeds, unaided, with or without by God’s grace.

      • Manfarang

        Do you drink or something?

        • alternative_perspective

          What on earth are you talking about?

          • Manfarang

            Sin

          • alternative_perspective

            To what were you referring – do you drink or something? Are you asking what sin brought myself to the realisation I wasn’t a good person?

            – Pre-marital sex with my ex-girl friend, lusting after others, nearly cheating on my ex-girlfriend with two of here friends, getting very drunk (I’m a very compassionate and gentle drunk)

            – Nowadays… I fight the urge to look at women with lust (daily)and on occasion I fail (once a week). I am at times irrationally angry and get wound up far too much (every other day). I occasionally swear (about every other day). I occasionally look at porn (about once every two months). On all these latter counts I am improving and fighting these but I am depressing far from perfection. I don’t love God with all my heart, soul and strength and I don’t seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness – though I try.
            This is my confession.

          • Hi

            I’d say it’s a confessions we here don’t need to know here on this blog. There are many people who will be unkind about you and use it in a nasty way. I’d delete it. Just my view which you are free to ignore.

          • alternative_perspective

            Thank-you Hannah, I appreciate your concern.
            I think this is a time to weep and perhaps to mourn. Unless a seed falls to the ground, no life will come from it. I will leave my confession in the open and people can judge, if they see fit. But they will know that I don’t hold myself in any position of moral perfection or superiority. That I like them am a sinner and in need of God’s mercy.

          • …. and Jack will pray you stay on the path.

          • Manfarang

            St. Augustine’s prayer, “Lord, make me chaste—but not yet”

    • Dominic Stockford

      Scare? No we’ll leave that t God when its too late.

      More seriously, as the caption on a cartoon I have says:

      “If it were not for sin, Rev Soapley, we would not be here.”

      • Sarky

        Which is why you hammer it home.

  • Gregory Morris

    Surely the Chaplain does need to draw along side the individual and make it clear that he doesn’t condemn him. But as a priest (there is no reason in my mind why a pentecostal pastor may not fulfil that function) must he not show the individual of the danger in which he stands as an unbeliever before God and point him towards the remedy in the Lord Jesus? Might he not add, neither do I condemn you: go and sin no more?

    It would have been better for the offended brother to have sought out the chaplain and put the matter right than to involve the pagans as intermediaries.

    • Marcus Stewart

      Gregory, I entirely agree with your last sentence – see my comment above. The heathen intermediaries were always going to make matters far, far worse… But the prisoner may have known that…

      • Gregory Morris

        I suppose heathens is more accurate a description..

        • Marcus Stewart

          Not that there’s any wrong with paganism, we must add quickly, lest the police are involved! Indeed the PS has pagan chaplains – and lovely they are too.

    • Dominic Stockford

      “whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

      I wonder who condemned all who don’t believe in Christ as the only way using these words?

      • Gregory Morris

        That is right. But our conduct towards unbelievers should I believe be to present the Gospel attractively: knowing the wrath of God we persuade men doesn’t necessarily mean dangling them over the pit. Someone who is burdened with sin will not be helped by being denounced nor is it our place to denounce them but we can point them along the path to Bunyan’s wicket gate. Those who say they have no sin, are in great danger and stronger measures may be needed!

  • Well done for trying to play Devil’s Advocate Cranmer (or in this case Equality & Diversity’s Advocate, though the two are pretty synonymous). However you, I and everyone else knows this is complete BS.

    You know as well as I do that God’s love & mercy do not make any sense without any sense of His holiness & wrath. And whilst you and the “LGBT coordinator” have focused on the hurt feelings of the poor, hapless homosexuals in the service that day, what of the fornicators, thieves, adulterers & drunkards – who is advocating for their hurt feelings?

    We are not presented with the full text of Mr Trayhorn’s sermon, so we are not privy to the extent of which sin was magnified or how greatly the message of grace & mercy was expounded. But if my knowledge of Pentecostal pastors is anything to go by, then the sermon that day would have fully explained the way of salvation.

    It is probably no coincidence that we read in the news today of the dire situation our prison service is in, and how our prisons are the greatest recruiting grounds for Islamic extremists.

  • Darren Newman

    I think it’s fair to point out that the claimant in this case was not employed as a prison chaplain. He was a gardener and as far as i can tell from the decision he wasn’t leading the service as a whole when his comments were made. IN fact he had been instructed by his employer not to ‘preach and teach’ at services (he had not been given counter-terrorism security clearance) but was told that he could lead the singing. The issue arose when he broke off from this – stopping ‘half-way through’ – and started preaching, in breach of the instructions he had been given. When he was given a warning for doing this, he resigned.

    If the case involved an actual prison chaplain and the nature of the service that he or she decided to lead then it would have been much more complicated – to what extent can the content of what a chaplain says in a service be controlled by the employer? Generally the essence of employment is that the employer can control what the employee does and how the employee does it. Should this be different with prison (or hospital) chaplains? There is a potentially difficult issue here – but i don’t think this particular case deals with it.

    • Thank you for giving some context to the complaint here. Had the disciplinary action been that he had violated his terms & conditions then this would have made far more sense. However the complaint seems to be about the nature & content of his message – that it incited hate towards homosexuals and prostitutes, but we are not told how (other than the passage of Scripture mentions them as specific examples).

      • Darren Newman

        Well for a bit more context the Tribunal says this:

        “(xii) Miss Edden confirmed the previous incident and the fact that the Claimant had been told he could not preach but could lead singing in a service.

        (xiv) PR3 confirmed that the Claimant had stopped half way through a song and said that whilst he could not remember the exact words it was along the lines of the fact that all prostitutes will never be welcome in God’s Kingdom and prostitutes are not welcome here and homosexuals are not welcome here and will be never welcome in Heaven. PR3 continued:

        “The crazy thing was that he started goading the congregation. He kind of just went crazy and he started raising his hand he started pointing at people and saying “Go on put your complaints in if you don’t like what I’m saying, put your complaints in” and I was … I almost felt like putting my guitar down at that point, yeah, but I felt that it would have let Roy down because Roy had guests with him an American lady and some other people, I thought I won’t make a scene because Roy, you know, is a really, really nice person.”

        Roy was confirmed as being the Rev. Nyandoro.

        (xvi) Based on the evidence obtained during the investigations, Mr Moore was satisfied that during the service the Claimant had made homophobic statements. He considered the matter warranted progression to a disciplinary hearing.”

        I take the point that labelling the comments ‘homophobic’ raises some difficult issues. But I think on balance this sounds like the sort of behaviour that an employer is intended to be cross about. Giving a warning to an employee behaving in this way seems proportionate to me.

        • Anton

          Valuable info; thank you. Have you a link, please?

        • John

          This is a helpful post that gives a lot of context to the story. Though I believe the Scriptures Trayhorn quoted to be the inspired word of God, his intervention was out of order and went beyond the mandate entrusted to him. When helping lead worship a visitor should respect the parameters put in place by the person in charge who will have to deal with the pastoral repercussions. If someone suddenly started ranting in a service I was responsible for I too would be annoyed – however biblical or sound the content of his rant was. If I had been Kinder I would have apologised to my congregation for the disturbance and told Trayhorn afterwards he had could no longer volunteer – but I would not take a fellow-Christian to court.

          • Anton

            Do we know if Trayhorn accepts that this is an accurate account?

          • Martin

            Anton

            It certainly doesn’t accord with what Christian Concern have posted.

          • Dominic Stockford

            If this alleged ‘rant’ is indeed what happened then your solution is indeed the christian one.

    • “I think it’s fair to point out that the claimant in this case was not employed as a prison chaplain.” It is also fair to point out that this is made quite explicit in the opening sentence, hence mention of ‘tent-maker’, ‘gardener’ and ‘volunteer’.

      • Darren Newman

        Indeed. But you also gave the impression that he was leading the service. I think the service was being led by someone else and he interrupted it with comments of his own, in breach of the instructions he had been given.

        • carl jacobs

          Would this have mattered if he had said something innocuous according to modern moral dictates? It wasn’t what he did that got him in trouble. It’s what he said that got him in trouble. What he did merely gave them they hook for punishment.

          • Darren Newman

            I think if an employee breaches an instruction but it does no harm that is often overlooked. if an employee breaches an instruction and in doing so causes offence and complaints then that will usually be treated more seriously. So the content of what he said is relevant to the employer deciding whether they need to take action or not.

          • carl jacobs

            Where the harm is defined as “He said something unpalatable to the modern ear”? Christians say lots of things that are unpalatable to the modern ear. How can we do otherwise when we stand in opposition to the religion of the day?

          • Darren Newman

            In your everyday life you should course be free to say whatever you please short of inciting violence against others. But in your employment, when talking to the people your employer must manage and care for, your employer is entitled to prevent you from saying things that have the potential to cause harm.

            I dont think its unreasonable for a prison to want to be very careful about how prisoners are addressed on issues relating to sexuality and prostitution. In that context these issues require sensitive handling and a degree of professionalism and training. Restricting the comments of an employee who does not have the training or expertise to understand the impact of what he is saying seems reasonable to me.

            No-one was trying to restrict what he said in his own church – its what he said in the workplace that caused concern.

          • carl jacobs

            So the truths of Scripture are now considered to inherently incite violence and can only be mentioned by those experts who are carefully trained. Someone should have mentioned that to the man born blind. He certainly incited anger. Perhaps if he had been carefully trained. But how fortunate are we that we are free to say things in a church building. Yes, what could go wrong with this precedent? For surely no other part of Christian teaching can be considered offensive.

          • Manfarang

            The organization I work for has a code of conduct when it comes to talking about religion and politics. It requires tactfulness.

          • carl jacobs

            This is about substance and not form. It’s not a matter of how something was said. The problem is that it was said at all.

          • Manfarang

            Religion and Politics are substance.

          • carl jacobs

            Tact is about form.

          • …. whilst staying true to substance.

          • Manfarang

            In my office there has been a lot of talk about Trump. but one man said I am bored with all this so I never raise the subject when he is present.

          • It’s mostly about where it was said, by whom and to whom.

          • You actually don’t know that, do you? Whenever did Jesus berate or goad sinners who were in a situation of powerlessness and hopelessness? Jesus discerned the differences in His audiences, a critical skill. He used parables to both feed and weed and He refused to be caught in the traps that His enemies laid for Him.

          • Marcus Stewart

            That is, if the employer takes offence at what you consider is a legitimate expression of free speech, believe is mandated by your calling, and has been so expressed since the inception of Christianity, you will be punished.

            This does not address the question of whether such punishment was reasonable as there are clearly two ways of considering whether his utterances were reasonable (as this thread’s comments reflect). Precisely because of this, a quiet word from management, etc, would have been vastly more apt than what appears to have happened. Indeed, he appears to have been rather more injured than the hurt feelings of a complaining inmate.

            It all boils down to proportionality and reasonableness.

          • Manfarang

            I did work with a missionary some years ago, she was a staunch (American) Republican too, but we became friends.

          • Tact – skill and sensitivity in dealing with others or with difficult issues. Christian’s call it discernment.

          • Manfarang

            The Buddhists have a similar idea.

          • Probably an Eastern thing. The Orthodox Church is more pastoral than the Western Church too. it’s was their concept of the Church being a “Field Hospital” that Pope Francis picked up on.

          • Why are you reconstructing the comment to suit your own agenda, Carl?

            As HG wrote:

            “Young offenders are weak. They feel worthless, hopeless and helpless, and they cry at night.

            Is it really helpful for a prison chaplain to heap red-hot coals of sin and retribution on the already-bowed heads of convicted youngsters? How many of these are likely to attend a church service when they leave prison? What may hinder them from doing so? What is wrong with a little restorative pastoral sensitivity in your preaching and teaching?”

            How would you answer this?

          • carl jacobs

            I would point to the man who sat across the room from me in the membership class I attended last June. He was at one time in prison for killing a man while driving under the influence. The Pastor of my church went to preach to him in prison. The man sought him out when he was released precisely because he didn’t shade the truth.

          • Jonathan

            “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.” Acts 20:20

          • Martin

            Darren

            Actually, experience shows that what is required is a knowledge of the soul of man, not the sort of professionalism and training that will be given by the prison service.

          • No man can possibly know or judge the soul of another unless given a very special gift from God.

          • Martin

            HJ

            But the fruit can be an excellent pointer.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Also, he adds in a rider, ‘unless’. So he admits that it IS possible, which rather undermines the point he is attempting to enforce upon those of us who seek to discern, as the Bible teaches.

          • Marcus Stewart

            If chaplains aren’t the church in the workplace, what are they? What these secular (very!) employers want is a social worker, or a chaplain who behaves like one (quite a few…) By law the PS has to employ chaplains, but ask the many (certainly not all) heathens who run them what they’d rather have and it would be a social worker who does ‘chaplaincy’ duties. They’re not the least bit interested in chaplains qua religious people (and they loathe Islam but would never admit it), but as those who mop up pastorally after deaths, etc. Nothing wrong with the latter, of course, but without the former chaplaincy is meaningless.

            Your profession and training is as a priest or minister, and that should suffice without what amounts to secular indoctrination by an employer which forbids freedom of expression (yet, ironically, allows inmates to run riot expressing themselves).

            The issue remains proportionality and that this matter could very probably have been better and sanely managed.

          • Your position sounds like the very heart of Phariseeism – you’ve found some small-print that justifies doing the wrong thing, and as far as you’re concerned, that’s what really matters.

          • Darren Newman

            No. I’m just looking at this from the point of view of an employer and applying very well established employment law principles. Not small print at all. There is small print here about how exactly indirect discrimination works in the context of a disadvantage experienced by an individual rather than a group, but I thought this wasn’t the forum for that.

        • Dominic Stockford

          “I think” is, I am afraid, a bit thin to build this argument on. Evidence is required for this in order to make such a pronouncement about this gentleman. Paul Diamond would not have represented a fool, for he is himself not a fool.

          • Darren Newman

            Apologies, I was trying to express myself moderately. I should have said: It is clear from reading the full decision that…

            Paul Diamond is indeed no fool (although I query his tendency always to argue discrimination cases in terms of Article 9). Mr Trayhorn is no fool either (I assume) but he was given a warning which, in the general scheme of employment law, makes perfect sense to me.

    • Gregory Morris

      Thank you for those comments putting the matter in context.

  • carl jacobs

    This was a de facto heresy trial, and the important lesson to draw is that orthodox Christianity is increasingly going to be banned from the public square. Religious freedom is increasingly going to be defined as something that occurs inside the walls of a church building. You will have the freedom to believe what you want, but not the freedom to act upon it in any public arena. Inquisitors will enforce the boundary – not unlike the religious police in Saudi Arabia.

    Unless of course you are willing to slap a clip into an AK47 and shoot up a newsroom. For all the talk of extremism and inciting hatred, they prove by their actions that they don’t fear Christians. They instead expect that Christians will take it and learn their place. One sees in this a terrible judgment as a nation is given over to its depravity. But also an opportunity for strength is made perfect in weakness.

    Keep watch. The days are evil. And we are the dangerous heretics in this post-modern age.

    • Marcus Stewart

      Quite…

    • David

      Spot on I’d say Carl.

    • Has the world ever really been any different – really? The difference is the darkness and evil of the world is over running the Church and giving the enemies of the Gospel, both inside and outside the Church, the upper hand.

      • CliveM

        Never the upper hand HJ, simply being allowed the temporary illusion of it.

        • The Gospel will never be defeated or Christ’s chosen means of its visible existence in the world. There have been dark times when it has been silenced and persecuted and heresy has predominated. There is always a true Church amidst the false Church and it will be here until Christ returns.

    • Your position has obvious merit on its own for general society, Carl, but hardly applies to this specific, real world case of an unapproved, unqualified individual giving sermons to a …literally…captive audience of troubled and volatile individuals in a strictly controlled institution. A similar principle applies when we raise our children properly; we selectively provide information in relation to their ability to absorb it and profit by it.

      • carl jacobs

        But they aren’t children. They are adults. And they weren’t captive. They attended voluntarily. And the problem was that one man didn’t want it said that his homosexual desire was evil. Which statement really has nothing to with why they were convicted. And how is a man unqualified to speak the truth? Must one be certified to do so in this day and age?

        No, this had nothing to with the context and everything to do with delegitimizing the message.

        • They’re prisoners, Carl, the definition of captive, where “voluntary” is a relative term. No, they are not children, but adult criminals under institutional stewardship which limits their rights according to the law and the judgement of those in charge of them. Under those conditions even if no one had made a complaint, the decision to remove an unauthorised cleric, regardless of what he preached, was a sound one.

          In any event you are making an unwarranted assumption, presenting a false dilemma by suggesting that there are only two possible scenarios; either allow a doofus of a gardener to rattle on to an assortment of prisoners, or prohibit him from doing so and bring in religious repression and societal collapse. Surely you can imagine a whole host of options where Church doctrine can be authentically represented in an appropriate way to a volatile, multi-denominational prison population. If you can’t think of even one, please don’t become a prison warden.

          • carl jacobs

            What is it about homosexuality that makes it a uniquely threatening subject? Because you really don’t believe that this would have been different if the offending statement had been said by duly authorized chaplain, do you? And what other subjects must not be broached? Are we talk only about rainbows and sugar plum fairies?

          • What is it about homosexuality that makes it a uniquely threatening subject?

            As a general philosophical point or, like, if it’s being preached about in a men’s prison by an untrained lay person? Seriously, Carl?

            As I said right from the start, I generally agree with your libertarian principles about religious and speech rights, but this is a special situation; once again, a prison, where …obvious to everyone, but not you, apparently… a whole slew of rights are understandably curtailed. Including the right to allow the prison’s gardener to freak-out suicidal and violent people. Yes, rainbows and sugar plum fairies will do, unless of course they present a problematic topic in the opinion of the warden, I’d say.

            Again, surely you can find other options apart from the ones you are trying to limit the debate to.

          • It’s not clear just what he said and, as importantly, just how he said. A report below, citing testimony from the a witness, indicates he was goading the prisoners and being deliberately provocative.

          • Anyway, Carl. It’s good to bullshit around again with everyone here…even with you, you running-dog Yankee imperialist bomber command lackey of the military-industrial complex.

          • carl jacobs

            [Sniff] That’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me.

          • Now, don’t get all gooey on me; especially on this forum. The Brits here are a savage lot; traumatized bullies from days and nights public schools.

          • carl jacobs

            The Brits? Savage?? Jack? Clive??

            Well, OK. Clive might attack me with some haggis. That could be bad.

          • Martin

            avi

            Not sure what an ‘unauthorised cleric’ is, in terms of Christianity. Biblically, preaching is not limited to those who are ‘authorised’. Indeed, I’m not sure who would do the authorising.

          • I’m not making a theological definition, Martin. Authorized by the prison authorities in this case, of course.

          • Martin

            Avi

            It’s not something the prison authorities are competent to do.

          • So who is? Should they be allowing everyone and anyone, including Muslim preachers with their advice on infidels, or anarchist firebrands with their views on resisting authority? In a prison, I shouldn’t have to add again.

            On second thought, putting you and Carl in charge of the Bureau of Prisons might significantly reduce the overcrowding problem. Messy, but effective….

          • Martin

            Avi

            Seems to me they’re allowing anyone who isn’t a Christian.

          • That may be and that should be a concern to everyone, so demands for equal treatment and consistency should be made loud and clear, right up to the courts if need be.

          • Martin

            Avi

            They have been. In the case of the guest house keepers the judge specifically said he had to choose between the human rights of the two sides and chose to support the homosexuals.

          • The system is politically tilted. It’s tilted here, in Canada, over in the US, and obviously in the U.K. In all democracies we have serious issues with traditional,
            merit-based justice being challenged with what they now call “social justice.” I think the solution lies in challenging bias consistently and within the ideals of common law-based jurisprudence. But whether there has been bias or not in this particular case, the problem is that the character who is being silenced can be rightfully silenced on common and justifiable procedural grounds without touching on speech or religion issues.

          • Martin

            Avi

            The problem comes when those administering and writing the law are biased themselves.

          • Yes, and sometimes this can be fixed, other times not. A pattern quite familiar to Jews from oral histories and chroniclers: Government bureaucracy grows, sucks up resources from the poor, becomes a snowball rolling down a hill and picks up more mass with its sticky, exponentially growing surface area. The system, the mega-state, Hobbes’ Leviathan, becomes gummed up, groaning under a tangle of rules, mountains of paperwork and endless taxes, fees and fines…and that’s the time the clever ones liquidate, close up shop, pack up and move to “younger” frontier areas still on the happy up-swing trajectory.

            If the economy doesn’t revive, if drastic reforms aren’t implemented, if the deadwood and clinging barnacles aren’t replaced by principled and competent people, the next phase in this melancholic banality is where the system starts strangling itself up with its own superstitious nonsense and is unable to self-correct; nothing can be done about the government, the courts, the piling regulations, the lousy conditions, the crumbling infrastructure, the armies of mendicants. At this point panic sets in among all orders and classes and those with positions and privileges and opt for the divide-and-rule option and divert the attention to weak minorities, typically Jews in the past. But now, with the tiny remnant of Jews leaving Europe and with a strong Israel as a threat and a refuge, it won’t be the Jews who’ll be providing that service. It won’t be the growing and aggressive Muslims either, nor the extinct peasantry or the disappearing working class. I think you can guess which small and scattered enclaves will find themselves in the sights…because you’re already getting a taste of it.

          • Martin

            Avi

            I’ve expected persecution sing ~70s. It is no surprise.

  • Marcus Stewart

    I was an Anglican prison chaplain, finding the Prison Service deeply and corrosively politically correct, so such an incident is unsurprising, and it’s bound to happen again. Pastoral sensitivity is, of course, particularly significant in a prison – not least because one’s charges are, on the whole, more volatile (though I never experienced any hostility whatsoever), ready to react, and, perhaps, less literate, seeing things in black and white terms.

    I can’t comment on whether or not I’d consider this chap was wise or not to put things the way he did, but it is most concerning that the Service sought to interfere as fools rushing in when a simple apology or theological explanation to the prisoner(s) would surely have sufficed – concluding with agreement to differ, perhaps. Even if this didn’t suffice for the prisoner it should have done so for the Service. That it didn’t, and the matter became absurdly escalated to a disciplinary case, demonstrates acutely what is wrong with the employer and its thought policing.

    The coercion of de facto extreme liberalism amongst chaplains seems to be becoming de jure. I wonder whether there was any supportive input from chaplaincy hierarchy? I would expect them, pusillanimously, entirely to tow the ‘equality’ line. So infected is management with this doctrine that some see promotion in destroying those they can claim have to have transgressed, as a notch on their bedpost.

    A sad situation…

    • Didn’t Christ tell His disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Just before he had warned them that they were being sent out like sheep among wolves.

      The world is hostile to believers – not incidentally hostile, but purposefully hostile. Wolves are intentional about the harm they inflict upon sheep. In such an environment, the question is how can we advance the Kingdom of God effectively without becoming predatory ourselves? Jesus taught His followers that, to be Christ like in a godless world, they must combine the wisdom of the serpent with the harmlessness of the dove.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Agreement to differ is the issue that is overwhelming Christianity today. We are not allowed to differ. But we HAVE to differ or cease being truly Christian.

      We cannot sit back and self-censor the truths of Scripture, especially not the hard ones regarding sin and repentance (which involves telling people exactly what God says constitutes sin). And if such teaching is not given in prison, where those listening (appear to) need it more than most, then this nation is indeed in serious trouble.

      • Ever read the parable of the sower? The soul has to be prepared and kept receptive. You really believe those in prison are more open to lectures about how spiritual bankrupt, miserable sinners they are, on route to hell, than say war mongers or those who put money before care of their fellow men? Or for that matter, preachers who claim to be sinners – oh, but not as quite as bad as those sinners in prison?

  • David

    I suspect that a short article like this is unable to bring out the full facts and nuances surrounding this case, so my comment is a general one.

    If the State attempts to silence Scripture by declaring the Equalities myths, beloved by the so called progressive Left, as superior to it then we can be quite sure that society is in deep trouble. Putting anything above the Gospel demonstrates that the extent of rebellion against God has gone into a new and more profound stage, which can only lead to the destruction of society.

    I cannot but wonder whether the long standing and ever deepening crisis in our prisons is casually related to this turning away from God’s Truth. Be it in prisons or the wider world outside, the imposition of a shallow, artificial state manufactured moral code based on highly questionable political theories, namely radical equality, cannot hold the line and ensure a just, peaceful, wholesome and equitable society. Increasing tensions, strife, crime, poverty and sheer unhappiness will, sadly multiply rapidly from now onwards. Only a direct intervention from God, acting through the remaining few orthodox Christian leaders can save the UK and the west.

    • Coniston

      There is a new state religion in the West (Britain, USA, Canada, etc). It is the Religion of Secular Paganism, and it is being enforced increasingly by state laws upon everyone, regardless of their existing religious beliefs. (Except for Muslims – our legislators are too afraid of losing their heads). We are moving, gradually but surely, to a position similar to that of early Christians in the Roman Empire.

      • Anton

        Just as prophesied…?

  • SonoView

    If you review the “hard sayings” of Jesus in the gospels (hell, judgement etc.) they are, I think without exception (although correct me if I am wrong), all delivered either to the disciples, i.e. believers, or to the religious leaders such as the Pharisees and Teachers of the law. To the crowds he was much more gentle, c.f The Sermon on the Mount, feeding the four and five thousand.

    “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matt. 9,36

    Most lads in prison are the result of a dysfunctional abusive upbringing, and many are deeply traumatised. They certainly fit into the category of “harassed and helpless”.

    If they respond to the gospel the Holy Spirit will convict of sin, and that will be the time to teach some of the harder truths of the New Testament.

    They say you cannot drive a ten ton truth over a five ton bridge. First you need to make the bridge a bit stronger.

    • Anton

      Most lads in prison are the result of a dysfunctional abusive upbringing

      No: they are in prison for GBH or something like that. Most of them had a dysfunctional abusive upbringing, to be sure, but so did many more people who don’t commit crimes.

      • SonoView

        I don’t disagree, but that does not make them any the less shepherd-less sheep!

      • All are made in the image and likeness and Christ – and should be treated as such. Those who represent Christ should behave in a Christ-like fashion and show love, care and compassion and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest.

    • Martin

      The Sermon on the Mount, or on the Plain it’s probably the same occasion, was delivered to the disciples:

      Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
      And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
      (Matthew 5:1-2 [ESV])

      And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
      Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
      (Luke 6:20 [ESV])

      As for the multitude, He taught them in parables so they would not understand.

      As for the complainant, he doesn’t seem too repentant for the misdemeanours that brought him there and I guess most of his fellows are the same. The preacher of the gospel needs to puncture the bubble of self justification.

      • Dominic Stockford

        “Blessed are the poor IN SPIRIT…”
        That is those who know that they are miserable sinners without a hope of redemption by their own power and utterly dependent on God’s grace to save them. Only spiritual bankrupts who now they are spiritual bankrupts go to heaven. I doubt that would be allowed to be preached in prisons if the attitude shown in this case is taken to its natural conclusion.

        • Martin

          Dom

          Although Luke abbreviates it. You are, of course right.

    • Martin

      The sermon on the mount, or on the plain, it’s probably the same occasion, was taught to the disciples:

      Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
      And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
      (Matthew 5:1-2 [ESV])

      And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
      Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
      (Luke 6:20 [ESV])

      Teaching of the multitude was mostly in parables so they would not understand.

      And by the sound of the claimant, his incarceration hasn’t caused him to regret his misdemeanours.

    • Luke 13:1-5 makes clear that Jesus taught that warnings about perishing are suitable for all: “1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

  • Anton

    Even LGBTETC isn’t the issue here, it’s the fact that the dominant belief system in Britain believes there’s no such thing as sin. In which case why has it imprisoned people?

    • Gregory Morris

      I am losing track of the acronyms LGBT…ETC….oic -yes rather good. Is that kosher or did you make it up.

      • Anton

        I may have seen it before and it entered my subconscious; I don’t know.

        • Gregory Morris

          Wel I shall with your permission be happy to use it.

          • Anton

            I don’t consider my permission is needed but I’d be honoured, and I make no claim to have originated it.

          • IanCad

            “LBGT∞” should cover all eventualities. I’ve been wasting time trying to make the lemniscate larger but no luck. Impressive Eh?!

          • Dominic Stockford

            It has a distinct advantage over my favoured LGBTQWERTYUIOP, for it has a certain brevity.

    • Broadwood

      Indeed. C S Lewis has some wise words to say on this.

    • Good point.

  • Hi

    Why can’t they just get this over and done with and establish the cult of “the supreme being ” , like revolutionary France. Which is exactly where the c of e is heading anyways.

    • Sarky

      Supreme leader snoke?

      • Hi

        I’ve been watching”carry on don’t: loose your head.”… Citizen Camembert , the Duke du Pomfrit and Sir Rodney Ffing.

        • IrishNeanderthal

          And of course, Citizen Bidet.

      • Hi

        But who is Snoke? Rogue one was better anyway.

        • A messianic Star Wars character on the dark side of the Force.

        • Sarky

          Yeah defo, last jedi looks awesome though. (Got a feeling snoke is something to do with vader)

      • carl jacobs

        Robespierre. A good atheist, he.

  • “As one of God’s soldiers and a follower of Jesus Christ I found this most offensive and regardless of my orientation he had no right to incite hatred towards anyone or judge anyone. The Bible provides forgiveness and acceptance of all as God’s followers. We should be promoting and not self-interpretation of a single person’s own thoughts and feelings and has also broken prison protocol over quality. This could have had severe consequences via bullying or self harming …

    The prison population should be assured this cannot happen again and that the prison does not support this person’s personal views.”

    Not a coherent sentence grammatically or logically, but one gets the general drift.

    The action of this LGBT coordinator, who defines himself as “one of God’s soldiers”, is the inevitable result of the belief that scripture alone, in the absence of an authoritative interpretation, means anyone and everyone one is free to understand it and apply it as they choose – with the Holy Spirit’s help, of course. He was able to present his personal view as more authoritative than the Pentecostal ministers. One presentation being “homophobic” and the other, in Jack’s view, being “orthophobic”. A house divided is surely easy pickings to its enemies in times such as these.

    And HG’s concluding comments are justifiable and sensitive. Preaching God’s message does have to be tailored to situations and to audiences and, more importantly, to individuals who have to be accompanied in their struggles and temptations. Simply bashing them over the head with God’s word is not the way of Christ.

    • Anton

      Perhaps you would derive his position from scripture alone, since you evidently believe it can be done.

      • Scripture alone, as Jack has repeated argued, is unscriptural, defies reason and the practice of he Church for 1500 years until it was invented by man.

        • Anton

          That is a separate discussion. It follows from what you said that you believe his position can be derived from scripture, so would you please show how?

          • Go read homosexual apologetics. God knows there are enough of them around since the authentic teaching of the Church was placed second to individual man’s. Jack is not wasting his doing so. Any position can be “derived from scripture” – abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, transgenderism. Go argue on the liberal Anglican sites.

          • Anton

            If any position can be derived from scripture then scripture is meaningless. Is that really what you believe?

          • Don’t ask silly rhetorical questions. They waste my time and energy – and yours questions. We’ve covered this already and did Ardenjm. You ducked and avoided his points.

          • Martin

            HJ

            He’s got you there.

          • The point’s above you, if you think that.

          • Martin

            HJ

            We both know he’s got you.

          • Anton

            Do you disagree that if any position can be derived from scripture then scripture is meaningless?

          • You really don’t get it do you? Read through what Jack has written already on all this. His profile is open. Then read Ardenjm’s comment on the Church. His profile’s open too. Once you have you will understand Jack’s (i.e. the Catholic Church’s) position. A position Jack has read, considered and agrees with.

            You could also research the relevant paragraph’s in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c2a3.htm

            Then read the Catechism on Sacred Tradition: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c2a2.htm

            And the Magisterium: http://wsww.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c2a2.htm

          • Anton

            You are welcome to give as long a reply as you wish but the absence of a clear Yes or No, in response to my unpremised binary question, is revealing.

          • Let the reader decide.

          • Anton

            I too am happy with that.

          • Jack is happy that you are happy.

          • Yes, it is revealing. As Jack recalls the scribes and Pharisees played the same games with Our Lord. You, like them, don’t get to artificially set the terms of the discussion. Scripture is only “meaningful” if it is correctly and authoritatively understood and translated into praxis.
            Seek and you shall find, Anton. After all, you enjoy reading.

          • Martin

            HJ

            I’ve done that, fundamentally the LGBT argument is derived from eisegesis and the rejection of tota scriptura.

          • In your opinion …. not their opinion.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Just as you consider your application of ‘tradition’ to the text of Scripture.

          • Not “mine”. Jack’s no protestant. The Church’s Sacred Tradition, a Golden Tread joining Christ, His Apostles, and their successors with the faithful Christians in the very first century right through to those today.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Of course it is yours, and of course Rome’s, it certainly isn’t the Church’s.

          • Anton

            Yes, it’s ironic that secular gays understand the Bible on homosexuality better than the gay Christian movement. That’s why they’re against it.

    • Martin

      HJ

      Actually his position isn’t derived from Scripture in any way, since he ignores what is contrary to his position. Sola scriptura also contains the principle tota scriptura.

      • How do you know what he considered and what he didn’t?

        • Martin

          HJ

          He wouldn’t be a LGBT coordinator if he were

          • He may have a well reasoned position like the various Anglican Bishops and priests and other protestant pastors who regard homosexual relations as acceptable before God. There’s also a few Catholic Bishops too but they hide behind ambiguity and avoidance. Then there’s another view, i.e. it is sin, but grace overcomes the law and once saved, always saved, so one shouldn’t be a neo-Pelagian about all this.

            So many opt-outs.

          • Martin

            HJ

            They don’t have a well reasoned position.

          • Being a bit obtuse there, Martin. The reasoning may be sound but the premises wrong. And the premises start from an particular interpretation of scripture. That’s why Sacred Tradition and continuity with it is critical. And, of course, this needs a teaching authority with authority vested in it from Christ. Guess what? This exists too.

          • Martin

            HJ

            The reasoning is flawed. they assume that they can insert their own beliefs into Scripture. That is not reasoning.

          • Well, you’ve done it. Why shouldn’t others? Your version of predestination is a perversity of scripture and of God’s very nature.

          • Anton

            You claim that the strength of Roman Catholicism as compared to protestantism is unanimity. But you are not unanimous, are you?

            You might claim that the Catholics who disagree with you are misinterpreting the Catholic catechism. I’d probably agree with you. But it’s no different from my claim that liberal protestants are misinterpreting the scriptures.

          • The dogma and doctrine of the Catholic Church is accepted by all faithful orthodox Catholics. It’s authenticity doesn’t depend on the efforts of men but on Divine insight given to her by Christ Himself. You can claim to understand scripture better but scripture stands against you in this.

          • Anton

            Who gets to define who is a “faithful orthodox” Catholic? You or the Pope?

          • That’s the sort of question only a protestant or cafeteria Catholic asks.

          • Anton

            I might agree with you about who is a faithful orthodox Catholic, but that’s not the point, is it?

          • Jack doesn’t have a “private” view. That’s the essential point.

          • Anton

            O he does, he does… he rails against what he calls liberal Catholics.

          • Based on the definitive teachings of the Church and the Deposit of Faith – not his private judgement.

          • Anton

            It’s his private judgement that they are transgressing those teachings and that deposit.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Remember, it’s not mine, it’s the position that many thousands have taken down the centuries. And who are you to deny God His choice of who He will save?

          • No, having established their premises or personal insights , they search “see”scripture as being in support of these beliefs and are “blind” to those passages that don’t concur. Luther, Calvin and Zwingli did exactly the same.

          • Martin

            HJ

            I think you just said the same as I, aside from your unwarranted slurs on men of God.

    • carl jacobs

      Yeh. If only we had a Pope who could authoritatively change the church’s position on divorce and remarriage…

      • No Pope ever has, or ever can, change the Church. Most other Christian churches have but the Catholic position, based on scripture, is and will always be that a valid marriage is permanent and for life and to civilly remarry or live with another woman as man and wife, constitutes adultery.

        • carl jacobs

          [Watches Jack whistle past the graveyard]

          • Access to the Eucharist in situations of manifest objective sin but where there is either no or severely diminished subjective culpability is the dispute raging in the Church. It’s a pastoral issue that is bringing other matters to a head in the Catholic Church and exposing the false shepherds.

            At least try to lay out the charges accurately.

          • carl jacobs

            It certainly is bringing other matters to a head. I’ll grant that. Remember how I said that Catholics demand non-Catholics conform their analysis to Catholic categories and framings? Yes, this is a good example of that phenomenon.

          • Care to elaborate on that assertion?

          • No, thought not.

        • Nonsense. Rome tolerates divorce and remarriage as much as any other church that has left the path of obedience. It just creatively redefines it under the title “annulment”. So, the outward form remains, but the insides are hollowed out. Didn’t Jesus have something to say about that way of doing things?

          • What is your understanding of the Church’s teaching on the sacrament of marriage – i.e. its validity in matter and form, being performed according to the proper ritual, along with the due intention?

          • Anton

            Modern Catholic grounds for divorce – sorry, annulment, thereby permitting (re)marriage – may even include the assertion, based solely on behaviour after getting married, that one party was insincere in taking the vows. That wasn’t the case for many centuries until recently (unless you were an aristocrat and could prove you were related more closely than the 5th degree, which almost all aristocrats were).

            Marriage is described in the Bible as a covenant (Malachi 2:14), and a covenant includes contractual obligations which are reflected in the vows. If intention is to be taken into account then why may it not be taken into account when other contracts that get broken? “This contract to pay 1000 pounds for the car was never valid because I never meant to!”

          • The Church of the New (and Everlasting) Covenant has established marriage as a Sacrament (irrevocable), not a simple legal contract.
            As a scholar and expert on Catholicism, you really should know this.

          • Anton

            Marriage is undisputedly a covenant. Whether it is also a sacrament is of no interest to me. There is more to a covenant than a contract, but it includes contractual obligations. The deeper point is that if someone freely enters into such a covenant then one is bound by it.

          • Do you understand the nature of a Sacrament and how it differs from legal concepts? Its validity (i.e. its binding nature before God) rests on matter and form, being performed according to the proper rubics, along with the correct and fully understood due intention of both parties.

          • Anton

            Whether it is or isn’t a sacrament makes no difference to the fact that it is a covenant (Malachi 2:14).

          • It’s certainly a Covenant that involves God in which the intended make promises to one another that are irrevocable. However, it is a Sacramental Covenant between the parties and is not conditional on the parties honouring it terms.

            “Whether it is also a sacrament is not of interest to me.”

            Then what are you arguing about? As a sacrament it can be declared null and void if there is a deficit in matter or form, or if it is not administered according to the proper ritual, with the correct due intention on both sides – i.e. it is for life, come what may, that it is open to children who will be raised, so far as is possible, in the Catholic Faith, and that it will be a partnership of love and self sacrifice on both sides. A breach of these promises, if made with full understanding, does not terminate the Covenant.

  • A Berean

    Clearly any and all future sermons must and will be subject to review by the appropriate tribunal and/or reviewing bodies and such sermons, if not already are, must be approved by the state and/or be found to be compliant by such relevant authorities. While it may or may not decide what Jesus Christ said and what any of the writers of the Bible meant the relevant authorities will, if not already, decide what is allowable.
    Since attendance at the chapel service was entirely voluntary the person that lodged the complaint should have anticipated the very real possibility that that person would have heard something that he or she would not have agreed with and therefore encounter such disagreeable views and therefore forfeit any right to complain.

  • Anton

    I have to say that if Barry Trayhorn ended up with depression as a result of this episode then he needs further building up in Christ, or how will he fare if and when indiscriminate persecution of Christians – the biblical norm – arises? Bless him but was he the right man for prison ministry?

    • Well, Barry Trayhorn went into a prison and declared the Word of God and then stuck by it. You, on the other hand…. well, I have no idea. You’ve not yet mustered the gumption to give your full name. Is it possible that you might have some things to learn from Barry Trayhorn?

      • Anton

        Barry Trayhorn and I without doubt both have things to learn from Jesus Christ.

  • jsampson45

    Sheesh! So what happened? Who said what? One reads through all this and ends in confusion.

  • Sad to see ‘Cranmer’ endorsing the completely false presupposition that straightforward statements about sin are, in their very nature (regardless of how offered up) contrary to an environment of love and mercy, and not welcoming. Ultimately, Mr. Hilton’s condemnations fall upon the apostle Paul, and God himself, who was fully aware of the possible delicate psychological states of potential readers of his Word. Yes, there may be particular teachings which are appropriate at particular times, according to the reader’s position. But fundamental teachings about the nature of reality, that God made man male and female, and explaining that embracing an identity which is in fundamental contradiction of our created nature, is nowhere even close to being something that it’s best to keep hidden from any souls anywhere at any time.

    Pointing out that people who are (at best) deeply confused about human sexuality and their own relationship to that are more likely to be mentally disturbed and to commit suicide, and then offering that as a reason why they should not be exposed to the truth about human sexuality, is, regardless of the intention, ultimately deeply cruel.

    • Hi

      “his preaching against idolatry was sufficiently direct and plain to instigate a riot.”

      I don’t think any authorities would condone allowing someone to speak if it could cause a riot, especially in prison. That incidentally is where they were and not a Pentecostal church.

      • Well, quite. Reading out verses from the Bible can offend early 21st century English middle class sensibilities. So at least one of 1) those sensibilities, and 2) the Bible, needs to be modified in the name of good taste.

        • Hi

          Actually I never met mentioned modifying your bible in the name of good taste or 21 st middle class English sensibilities . I had written about the fact that I don’t think authorities would condone anyone preaching if that lead to instigating or provoking riots inside a prison (or for that matter in the public domain outside of church) .

          • IrishNeanderthal

            Hannah,

            If I may change the subject slightly, because this one is driving me bonkers.

            In todayֺ’s Telegraph I came across this headline: Ruth Davidson mocks Theresa May by running through a field of wheat.

            A short and cheerful article, but I don’t see Ruth Davidson as mocking Theresa May, but simply having a guid wee bit o’ Scottish fun. But

            Journalists do control public opinion; but it is not controlled by the arguments they publish—it is controlled by the arguments between the editor and sub-editor, which they do not publish.

            G.K.Chesterton, All Things Considered

            Would you agree?

          • Hi

            I shall have to give my answer sometime tomorrow as I’m currently celebrating my birthday with my family and friends. Now back to singing karaoke DR WHOOO: the TARDIS !

            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6XupDBpqo00

  • Inspector General

    You have a point, Cranmer. For example, does a hospital chaplain stun the aged, feeble, weak and dying with the first secret of our Lady of Fatima, the vision of hell…
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Secrets_of_F%C3%A1tima

    One should think enough suffering goes on in prisons today without a priest adding to their burdens. Special environment, and all that. In fact, such is the publicised collapse of discipline in these places (thanks for that, you damnable liberals) one is surprised there isn’t a queue of young offenders waiting for their turn to hang themselves. Apparently, it’s the only way to escape the prison bullies who have free rein, so they say.

    Just imagine Len in there with his sandwich board. The place would erupt. Perhaps the recent disturbances in these institutions is down to him and some his mates preaching there. Well, you can’t blame a fellow for thinking that, what!

    • Hi

      They should allow you in to teach your “higher understanding”.

    • I was about to submit my own sermon on this issue when your post popped up….no, I’m sure of it; I cannot put it as well you did, Inspector.

      • Inspector General

        You are a gracious fellow, Avi. And this site is always the worse for your absence from it.

        • And you’re excessively generous, Inspector, but surely the site enjoyed a welcome respite from my habit to take any topic off-topic!

          • Always relevant points, Avi. Creative, divergent thinkers are always missed when they go on a leave of absence.

  • Inspector General

    Scurrilous detractors of the Inspector may be interested in the Higher Understanding’s take.

    First. God is NOT ‘hurt’ by sin. There is quite a volume of lame thought on the subject of sin around, but none so imbecilic as that ludicrous idea.

    Second. Sin affects, primarily, the individual committing it, and those affected by the committing, most notably his or her nearest and dearest, followed by innocent members of the community. Prison chaplains are better off concentrating on the hurt sin in general causes to the self, and the aforementioned others. Especially the nearest and dearest. If they can manage that, even with just one prisoner, then they have justified their office.

    We must remember prisoners suffer enough as it is. Perhaps by informing them what is expected on them in this world, to wit, a bit of consideration for others, they themselves may find peace through it. And everybody wants a bit of peace, even offenders, do they not. So, no need for fire and brimstone preaching then.

    (With acknowledgement to the Higher Understanding as revealed to the Inspector over time. A long time)

    • Not bad, Inspector, and it merits an uptick.

      Sin, whilst it cannot “hurt” God in the sense we mean, most certainly offends Him and, if we continue on the path of refusing God’s grace and love, with reluctance, He let’s go of us. The rest of your post is a move in the right direction. Ultimately, peace and wellbeing has only one source. However, one agrees hellfire and brimstone is a rather a crude and blunt instrument to use on young offenders. Many of whom will not appreciate the concept of Fatherly love and are apt to view Justice through damaged eyes.

      • Linus

        He let’s go of us.

        Crappy Jack is on form today.

        So, tell us Crapmeister … does “He” let is go of us, let has go of us or let us go of us?

        All three are equally meaningless in the way that only theology expounded by the functionally illiterate can be. But if I have to guess what you mean, I’d probably go for the third option. Letting us go of us sounds biblical, in a crazy, “mystical” kind of way. And we all know how much gibbering Catholics love mysticism.

        I’ve been in Portugal over the past couple of weeks on my annual visit to a much loved but entirely loopy aunt, my father’s last surviving sister, who inhabits a charming quinta near Fátima and spends much of her time shuffling about the chapel there on her knees praying to graven images. Her perfectly charming, cultured and entirely rational husband died some years ago and since then her descent into gibbering mysticism has been entire.

        She too has a habit of slurring her words together, although incipient Alzheimer’s and the influence of phonemically blurry Portuguese may be partially responsible for this linguistic decadence. I ran Crappy Jack’s take on theology past her this morning (her English is still passable) and her reply was telling. “Alors ma tante,” I said. “What do you think of this eminent English theologian’s take on God’s attitude to sin? ‘He let apostrophe s go of us.'”

        “Intereshting, my dear,” replied she. “Il nous a laissé aller de nous. I think it meansh that our shpirit ish not bound to our corpsh (by which I took her to mean “body”, given that her vocabulary is somewhat limited) so we can fly over mountainsh like angelsh and touch the shky. Aleluia, Santa Maria, mãe de Deus !”

        And I thought: “So that’s how Christianity developed. A series of grammatical errors made by barely literate scribes transformed by the loopy and gibbering into theological ‘truths’.” Thank you for showing us real Christian truth, Crappy Jack.

        • Ever consulted an exorcist, Linus?

          • Linus

            About getting rid of evil sprites like you, Crappy Jack?

          • That’s not what Jack had in mind, no. You could start there, of course, with the exorcist and see where it leads. Do keep Jack informed.

          • Linus

            The Exorcist leads to The Exorcist II: The Heretic. It’s the story of a precocious child who loves to wind up the adults she encounters by pretending to be possessed. This largely entails a lot of moaning and shrieking and the chanting Latin verb tables. Every now and again she puts a crucifix to the best use it’s ever known and is clearly delighted when the adults start to gibber and rush about in hysteria.

            She’s a smart cookie, this child. Whenever a Catholic priest enters the room, she realises what’s going to happen and forestalls it by projectile vomiting large quantities of pea soup. The Church should take note: what better way of discouraging amorous attentions could there be? Even a priest’s libido would have trouble surmounting a direct hit in the gob by a stream of regurgitated soup, one imagines. The episcopate should supply all altar servers with a thermos full of the stuff before every celebration of the Mass and train them in effective two-fingers-down-the-throat techniques. Only one imagines the point of such lessons might be misconstrued…

            Dear oh dear, the poor Church: it just can’t win, can it?

          • Seriously, go consult a spiritual counsellor, Linus.

          • Linus

            What exactly is a “spiritual counsellor”?

            A manipulative git like you who thinks his delusions make him some kind of expert at telling others how to live their lives?

            “Spiritual counsellors” are the blind leading the blind. Or worse yet, the crazed leading the gullible. Frauds and mountebanks to a man and woman. You know this because that’s exactly what you are.

  • Inspector General

    No reference to the prison system is complete without the wisdom of the sorely missed Mr Justice Melford Stevenson

    “I must confess I cannot tell whether you are innocent or guilty. I am giving you three years. If you are guilty you have got off lightly, if innocent let this be a lesson to you.[28]“

    And in another case…

    Stevenson made this comment while sentencing a 61-year-old man to five years in prison for homosexual acts involving teenagers: “Cases such as these are all the more grave in these days because some years ago Parliament committed itself to pass a buggers’ charter …”.[43] (which earned him a reprimand from the Lord Chancellor Elwyn Jones, and a parliamentary motion in the UK House of Commons calling for his resignation)

    • Royinsouthwest

      A judge after your own heart, Inspector! They don’t make them like that any more.

  • Mike Stallard

    Via media please!
    Do not be insensitive to your (captive) congregation.
    Preach the word in a way that will captivate each one of them and not dilute the power of the Spirit.

    It probably will not matter much anyway, because you can be reported by anyone for HOMOFOBIC REMARKS. And the appeal will probably be successful because nobody, not even a DBE will dare gainsay the complainant.

  • The piece’s ending is permeated with the unexamined assumption – vigorously promoted by the “gay rights” movement – that those tempted by the sin of homosexual activity, are a particularly vulnerable, needy group, whom one must be super-extra-sensitive in addressing. Indeed, if one says anything too plain and direct, one might even become virtually a murderer, because they are especially prone to killing themselves (which is not a result of their embracing an idea that is contrary to all reason, the order of creation, and their own creation specifically as a man or woman intended to relate to the opposite sex, but because of how mean the rest of the world is).

    The outcome of embracing this idea is the application that Mr. Hilton makes: that one must stop preaching so directly about sin and repentance (even to the extent of not quoting Bible verses that mention particular sins along many others) but only preach of “love” – but not a robust, manly, Biblical love which involves putting self to death and embracing God, his creation and our fellow humanity as God required; rather an effeminate, in-name-only softness that demands no change, no self-denial, no vigorous fighting against the flesh, the world or the devil.

    I invite anyone who has been seduced by these ideas to compare them to the Bible. Because they are ideas that not only have no backing there, but are flatly contradicted. From a Biblical point of view, it’s the world’s pressing upon these people of the idea that the sexual temptations that they experience are a revelation of their core identity which must be embraced at every turn, and never questioned, that is a real act of hate, encouraging people to embrace death, and shutting off from them the possibility of another way. It’s the idea that, to challenge this concept is to attack a person’s very identity, which is the grand lie. And if we, like Mr. Hilton, soft-pedal in opposing these radical and revolutionary ideas, then we, whether we intend to or not, whether we wish it were so or not, are conspiring with the agents of death.

    • petej

      I’d reccomend watching “growing up gay” on the BBC iplayer if you are asking for evidence that gay people are a vulnerable minority.

      • IrishNeanderthal

        At a Caribbean carnival parade not long ago, between the floats there was a small procession of people carrying rainbow flags. I did not feel anything against them.

        But I do detest the BBC going on about them. Even ITV were getting in on the act last week, what with 50 years and all that.

        • petej

          Give it a couple of weeks and gay people will, once again, be completely absent from the tv listings.

          • IrishNeanderthal

            I should have made myself clearer. It certainly was historically appropriate, but it is the way the BBC go on about things in general, in all sorts of areas many of which have nothing to do with sex.

          • petej

            No, sorry, you’ve lost me!

          • IrishNeanderthal

            For one thing, they give far too much prominence to the opinions of people in the entertainment industry.

            In traditional Chinese society, there were four main social classes: scholars, peasants, merchants, and soldiers. Entertainers were excluded along with beggars and prostitutes as part of the “underclass”.

          • petej

            It’s a bit of an odd complaint that those in the entertainment industry promote views of those in the entertainment industry!

            The BBC also feature figures from the business world, religion and politicians in a way that commercial broadcasters don’t. They even have a channel devoted to politics.

          • Inspector General

            Yes. Good point. That’s the problem with tiny selfish exclusive minorities, even well pampered ones. Virtually no one else will watch the televisual awfulness you want, so the production costs can never be justified. Shoplifters have the same problem, you know. Nothing for them on TV apart from the odd Crimewatch.

            Tell you what. How about a 20 episode drama on Dennis Nilson for you. That will bring in the viewing crowds, what!

      • The two voices of the “gay rights’ agenda” – both heavily promoted by the BBC:

        1) We’re vulnerable, we’re needy, we’re liable to kill ourselves if you express disagreement with any part of our agenda. All we’re asking for is that you help us to not be persecuted all day long!

        2) We’re out, we’re proud, we’re in-yer-face, and you’d better submit to our ideology and social agenda NOW or face the consequences, you vile bigots!

        • Anton

          Reminds me of the tactics of a certain religion currently on the rise in Britain…

        • petej

          Well both are just arguing for gay people to be treated as well as straight people – I don’t see any contradiction between the two. Personally I haven’t experienced anyone being threatened for refusing to tolerate gay people, but I guess a lot of that is die to perspective.

          The documentary I recommend shows three stories of children. Two of them were badly impacted by bullying, including physical violence, which is why stonewall are lobbying to reduce gay bullying in schools. The third was rejected by his religious parents and made homeless by them. He fell into drugs and prostitution.

          A little bit more compassion and education and there would minimal bullying of gay children and probably fewer would end up on the streets.

    • Hi

      Except this was a prison and not a Pentecostal or Evangelical church and he wasn’t employed by the prison as a clergyman or chaplain, but a gardener. He lead prayers , but took it upon himself to do some preaching of his own which was inappropriate in itself , regardless of the message of his preaching. You don’t have to impress upon people your beliefs by preaching alone. Often actions will be louder than words, but regardless of that you should be careful what you say to people, especially in a environment such as a prison.

      • Sorry, but you’re making this up (why?). I’ve spoken, in person, to people on the ministry team at Littlehey. Barry Trayhorn was part of the appointed, regular chaplaincy team.

        • Hi ,

          I’m getting this information from the appeals tribunal judgment . In the “Outline Relevant Facts” it states:

          “The Claimant was employed by the Respondent from 31 May 2011 until 1 December 2014 as a gardener/horticulturalist at HM Prison Littlehey. His employment was terminated on 1 December 2014 by notice given by him on 4 November 2014.”

          It also says a that there are three Christian full time Christian chaplains and one Muslim one: Barry Trayhorn was a “chaplaincy volunteer” who agreed to help services at the chapel, which did not include preaching . Yes he was an ordained Pentecostal Clergyman and was a volunteer for the chapel services, but that wasn’t his paid position at the prison, being a gardener was his paid position.

          • You originally said that he “took it upon himself to do some preaching of his own which was inappropriate in itself”. You now acknowledge that he was one of the chaplaincy team. He was the agreed preacher for the day. He did not take it upon himself. So, your original statement was false.

            Bringing in his employment status is irrelevant to the question of whether he “took it upon himself”. To some extent, that confusion is understandable, in that he brought the employment tribunal case, and the issues are mixed up in that. But I’m not discussing the employment tribunal case – I’m addressing your completely false statement that he “took it upon himself” to read from the Bible in the chapel service.

          • Hi

            he did take it upon himself to preach. Again from the tribunal appeals decision , it says he was permitted to lead the worship and prayers, but not to preach (point 9of the relevant facts) . His preaching on 31 May 2014 was of his own spontaneous volition as he was leading worship. He was not asked to preach from 7th April 2014 following a previous complaint . It’s all therein the judgement. I’m not making any false statements, because I’m reading and using the appeals judgment .

          • I understand the inner logic of the verdict, which you appear to agree with – that all activities in worship can be divided into exactly one of worship/prayers/preaching. Since what he said was not worship/prayers, therefore it was preaching. etc. Huh. But this is all missing the wood for the trees.

          • Hi

            This exchange started because you said I was making things up, so I was defending myself from this charge by pointing out the relevant sections of the statement of facts of the case from the official appeals document. I have no end game or hidden agenda.

          • Well said and well argued, Hannah.

          • Hi Happy Jack

            Thank you !

          • IrishNeanderthal

            Two contrary things about this. Jack’s concern over the psychological side of this registers strongly with me.

            But on the other hand, is the “coordinator” an activist looking for trouble, and is the legal process error-proof?

            However, the constant wrangling between Jack and his friends, and Anton and his friends, is maybe worse than useless. Both sides seem more primed to get at each other than to get to the bottom of the case in point. I think that next time they get into this, I will post this Chinese children’s song:

            On the riverside, two large white geese
            Are stretching out their necks, each teaching the other to sing.
            The male goose teaches “ge ge ge”
            The female goose changes it to “po po po“
            Immediately the male goose opens his mouth: wrong! ×7

            On the riverside, two large white geese
            Are stretching out their necks, each teaching the other to sing.
            The female goose teaches “zuo zuo zuo”
            The male goose changes it to “you you you“
            Immediately the female goose opens her mouth: shame! ×7

          • Hi

            I haven’t said anything about my view on the principles of freedom of religion or speech behind this judgement as I haven’t had a chance.

            I have pointed out that not all attempts at communicating and or convincing someone else of one’s beliefs has to be done by fire and brimstone preaching or bible quotation. Sometimes , in fact I’d suggest most of the time , I say the way a person acts what they do is more important.

            I respect and respond better to Christians who just act normally and know there’s a way to approach people who don’t see the world like them.

          • Dominic Stockford

            It is, the Bible says, the Word that is the power of God unto salvation, not the actions of you or me.

          • Dominic Stockford

            I know a preacher who never manages to actually preach even though he takes 20 minutes, and does so at the ‘correct moment’ in the service. I know some who speak briefly (for a few seconds) about a Bible passage at the start of the service (not the sermon spot) who do preach wonderfully in that time.

          • “who agreed to help services at the chapel, which did not include preaching” – again, a false statement, which I know from speaking directly to people involved. It was, and is, regular and normal for chaplaincy volunteers to preach at the services, and I’ve spoken personally to multiple other volunteers who do that. Again, what exactly is your reason for twisting these facts? What is your end game and reason for doing that?

          • Hi

            In actual fact point nine of the appeals tribunal, summary of facts tells us that

            “On 7 April 2014 the Claimant was told not to preach at services in the chapel in the future.”

            The event at the chapel occurred on 31st May 2014. That’s covered in point 10.

          • Never let the facts get in the way of a good argument, eh? His role was to lead the singing – not to preach.

          • Martin

            HJ

            David says otherwise and has confirmed it with other volunteers to confirm the facts.

          • Then where is this testimony in the public records and why was it not presented at the various legal proceedings. Hearsay is not evidence of fact.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Because, as David says above, it wasn’t relevant. It’s a red herring.

          • Martin, just to clarify, I’m not saying that he was the appointed preacher for the day. “Happy Jack” is working within the paradigm, like Hannah, that there’s got to be a hard+fast division between the preaching/music/praying etc. I don’t claim to know the exact boundaries of what he was asked not to do previously, and haven’t talked to anyone about that, but I do note that the report does not rest the weight of its judgment upon this question of prior boundaries, but upon the things said themselves. So it’s a red herring.

          • Martin

            David

            I think I did understand that.

          • You’re importing your Roman Catholic concept of worship as something scripted, stage-managed. Among Protestants, if someone interjects a Biblical exhortation to obey God, we don’t search the small print or hunt for reasons to take offence; we say “thank you”.

          • Then, if in doing so, one breaks a specific instruction from one’s employer, then one must face the legitimate consequences, i.e. disciplinary action.
            Personally, Jack believes this sort of crude, insensitive, scatter-gun approach to preaching is un-Christlike and brings Christianity into disrepute. However, if he believed he was following the Holy Spirit, then so be it.

          • HJ, you’re making it up. The only disciplinary action was brought on the grounds of “homophobic statements”, not for disobeying any employer’s order (which wouldn’t have made sense, since the chaplain who asked him to not preach was not his employer, and since he wasn’t employed in a chaplaincy role).

  • Anton

    Incidentally, although Justice Slade’s judgement states only that “Littlehey is a prison with approximately 1,200 inmates including sex offenders and young offenders”, Wikipedia reports that it is in fact “the largest dedicated prison for sex offenders in the UK”.

    • Dominic Stockford

      And it now has a shop selling paraphernalia for those who are ‘changing’ their gender.

    • Your point being?

      • Anton

        A point of information.

        • And suggesting the need for even greater sensitivity in sharing the Gospel in that setting.
          Having worked with sex offenders, in prison and in the community, both professionally and in a pastoral capacity, you would be surprised at the level of hatred towards homosexuals. Some men will readily acknowledge they are sexually attracted to boys and teenage young males, but dare call them homosexual and all hell breaks loose – literally.

          • Anton

            What did you make of the work of Ray Wyre and Gracewell?

          • A pioneering therapist who, though he avoided organised religion, based his approach on his Christian faith and values. An empathetic man and very gifted in discerning the mettle of a person and able to understand their world. He understood evil in the soul and how it ensnares individuals, but believed too that men could be released from its grip. That said, he put the protection of children first, understood the addictive nature of sexual sin and would never compromise the safety of children. Jack admired his work very much and also the character of the man.
            He was taken way, way too early.

          • Anton

            Agreed in full.

          • Jack should also add he was warned never to play poker with him. Regrettably, he ignored this advice – once. His skill was uncanny.

  • Mungling

    It’s possible that LGBTQ individuals are more likely to die as a consequence of suicide, but that is hardly the only epidemiologic factor at play. Men are more likely than women than women to kill themselves, so should they receive more sensitive preaching? Should the pastor administer a depression inventory before preaching, because that’s a risk factor too. Can the pastor talk about the myriad other ways one might have sinned, or do they just have to restrict the LGBT stuff. By all means be sensitive, but please be consistent too.

  • Notice the pernicious logic of the verdict, found here: http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKEAT/2017/0304_16_0108.html . It is necessary to forbid statements such as the reading of 1 Corinthians 6, which speaks of how Christ forgives, washes and changes various sorts of evil-doers, including the sexually immoral, in order to “protect” the hearers. The very hearing of these ideas is deemed by the state to be dangerous. A homosexual lifestyle is deemed to be a protected characteristic, which must not be spoken against in a prison.

    But notice that this logic goes much further. There’s no particular reason why it’s only harmful to hear these things *in a prison*. There’s nothing particular related to the prison which makes these ideas potentially dangerous. It’s the ideas, not the prison, that are the problem.

    Are, moreover, the logic inevitably follows that if the state should protect people from danger when they are residing in prison, then it should do so anywhere, and everywhere else, as well. The ruling is a corrosive acid. Its inner logic means that such statements should be forbidden anywhere, and everywhere. It’s not just those serving time who need to be “protected” from dangerous attacks on their protected characteristics, according to the state. It’s everybody, everywhere. Such supposed rights – that they might hear something that they don’t agree with – if they exist at all, must exist everywhere.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Yes, and I object to many of the things written in the Guardian, and spoken in BBC news – so both should forthwith be struck down. But they won’t be, because it all cuts one way only.

  • Compare and contrast Barry Trayhorn’s approach to Mgr Keith Barltrop’s:

    “Pastoral care of homosexual people is essentially the same as all ministry: seeking to communicate the unconditional love of Christ and his Church, and to accompany people on their journey towards holiness. But in practice this particular ministry encounters powerful feelings of pain and anger which can cause difficulties.

    LGBT people often feel hurt by the Church, either because of the way its teaching comes across, or through concrete experiences of rejection, or both. Those from non-Western cultures are sometimes even in danger of their lives, while some other Catholics seem threatened by the very existence of gay people and react angrily towards attempts to accommodate them within the Church.

    There is also a wide range of attitudes, experiences and behaviour among gay Catholics themselves. Some long for a permanent relationship, while others admit that relationships are not important for them, and they simply want sex. With the availability of gay websites and apps, and well-known pick-up spots, most gay people in our society can easily have sex whenever they want ….

    But one thing is common to virtually all LGBT Catholics today: they will not take the Church’s teaching on trust, but must learn from experience. Even those who hold a very traditional attitude have likely arrived at it through many experiences.

    This being so, ministers to gay Catholics need two main resources: a moral theology that can face the critical scrutiny of life experience; and a well-grounded spirituality of discernment. These can help LGBT Catholics look honestly at their behaviour, see where it is leading them and discover alternatives where indicated.”
    http://catholicherald.co.uk/issues/july-7th-2017/the-way-ahead-for-gay-catholics/

    • Dominic Stockford

      Andrea Williams has written a response to some criticism, that recently appeared on Facebook, of one of our legal cases (Barry Trayhorn). Andrea explains that legal judgments do not necessarily reflect all the facts or evidence involved in our cases. We are proud to be supporting Barry and many others who are facing miscarriages of justice because of their Christian faith.

      Background: Andrea’s recent article explaining the case of Barry Trayhorn, who was forced to resign from his job at HMP Littlehey

      Dear Peter,
      Forgive me for not responding to your post immediately. I was involved in other case matters at the time, and I always have to think carefully about how to respond to all criticism, whether personal or directed at the ministry of Christian Concern. This is in part because we are so busy with the work, and it is vital we get on with it, rather than being distracted or unduly upset by often unfair criticism based on a limited version or understanding of the facts.
      As your criticism on Barry Trayhorn has gained some traction I, and my colleagues, have taken the decision to respond to you to seek to set the record straight. I have taken the time to write to you from a wonderful holiday with my family.
      In short, we do not believe your comments to be either an accurate or a fair criticism of us. In making your assertions, you were not fully familiar with the facts of our cases, nor the workings of our courts. Nor did you take into account the heightened level of intolerance and discrimination sometimes exhibited by judges towards Christian claimants.
      I would be delighted to speak with you, meet with you, if you want to chat through understanding our cases. I have made an open offer to all that critique us in such a fashion to come to our offices and to spend some time with our legal team. Indeed our clients are always pleased and willing to explain their cases and would also welcome a supportive presence during their court hearings.
      I hope the following will provide a satisfactory response to the points you addressed in your post, regarding the case of Rev Barry Trayhorn.

      Courts
      1. The role of the courts is to determine issues of conflicting evidence. They hear from both parties to a claim and then make a determination of what they believe the factual findings to be. Like all humans, particularly in our highly politicised world, judges bring in their subjective biases in making such determinations. This was the case in both the Victoria Wasteney and Barry Trayhorn cases. The courts hear two versions of events and must decide who to believe. That does not mean that what the Court then finds is true. Sadly we are used to hostile courts making extensive findings against Christians on every factual point (as in this case).
      2. If a case was truly hopeless, it would be struck out, not going on appeal often to the European Court.

      Introduction to Rev Trayhorn case:
      3. The judgment you reference, in relation to Barry’s case, (the judgment of the Employment Tribunal (ET)) has been superseded by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) judgment which we also lost. The legal question the EAT (the Higher Court) realised it had to determine was whether the Prison authorities were subject to national or European law.
      4. The Judge at the EAT held that the correct test was national law, but we argued that the result would be different if the European law test had been used.We argued that the Court was bound to determine the case under the Human Rights Act 1998, which applies the European Convention on Human Rights in national law. This would have given Rev Trayhorn far more stringent protections regarding his religious freedom and ability to manifest his faith at a national level than does the Equality Act 2010. The technical nature of both the procedure and the legal arguments shows the danger of criticism by persons who are not familiar with all of the facts or the workings of our courts. The failure of the EAT to analyse Barry’s rights under the Human Rights Act 1988 is now subject to appeal. We are appealing to the Court of Appeal on that point on law.

      Factual Findings:
      5. As explained above the Judge and lay members of the bench at the Employment Tribunal make factual findings, but whilst in law they are binding, they don’t tell the full story.
      6. For example, in paragraph [9] of the ET judgment, it is noted that a former inmate, Darren Russell, gave evidence. His evidence was (and we can show you the witness statement) that he had been a hardened sex offender; that he had been saved by the Gospel given by Barry and that he was now successfully in self-employment. He also testified that homosexual activists were voluntarily attending the Pentecostal service and disrupting it by mocking and laughing throughout. None of this was related in the factual findings of the Court. Even if the Judge does not mention this we are entitled to say that this is true.
      7. Also, the complainant who set off the chain of events that ended with Barry leaving the prison, as we understand it from Barry, is a sex offender who had raped 2 young boys. Our Counsel’s application to cross-examine the central figure in this entire case, Barry’s accuser, was denied. We wanted to elicit evidence from him that activists, including himself, attended the service to silence the Gospel message on sexual ethics. This is not in the Judgment either but we are entitled to say that this is our position (similarly, Victoria Wasteney was also refused the right for us to cross-examine her accuser).

      Security Clearance was not a relevant legal issue: Barry was disciplined for ‘homophobic’ comments:
      8. In paragraph [10.11-12] of the ET judgment, the tribunal relays the fact that a complaint was received by the ‘Real Voices’ co-ordinator because of Barry’s opposition to same sex marriage; and he was stopped from preaching because he lacked security clearance. We accept that the tribunal found that the reason for preventing him from preaching was the lack of security clearance but that finding leaves many of our main arguments unanswered. It does not disclose, for example, that his lack of security clearance was used as a pretext to prevent him from preaching further; that he had previously preached regularly over a long period of time; that he had security clearance to work at the prison and that the lack of security clearance had never been raised or previously enforced during a sustained period of involvement in the chapel services; that the issue of security clearance was never brought up prior to his quoting 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; or that security clearance is typically a measure used only in relation to Islamic extremists.
      In any event, this issue is a red herring! Barry was disciplined for making a “homophobic” comment in quoting 1 Cor 6:9 as this was deemed derogatory to homosexuals.
      9. The primary evidence of the dispute is in ET [10.19-20] where it is established that the Rev Trayhorn (whose only role in that service was to lead worship) quoted the Bible verse 1 Cor 6: 9-11; and proceeded to make the following comment:

      “You may want to complain about this but this is the Word of God. God loves you and wants to forgive you.”

      10. Barry was thereafter investigated for the making of “homophobic statements” ET[10.21(viii)], referred to an internal Disciplinary Tribunal for the making of “homophobic statements” ET [10.21(xvi)], and disciplined for making “homophobic comments” ET [10.43-44] (with the issue of the order not to preach solely as a compounding factor paragraph ET [10.46]).
      11. The primary findings of the Employment Tribunal (ET 10.43-48) were:
      a. Rev Trayhorn was “guilty of making homophobic comments”;
      b. Rev Trayhorn had made a “direct quote” from the Bible “and that particular piece of scripture was potentially derogatory to homosexuals”
      c. Rev Trayhornlacked “sensitivity” in his delivery;
      d. Homosexual prisoners attending the service were “upset and annoyed at the content of the delivery”;
      e. Rev Trayhorn was “not sensitive” to the Equality Policy or the Equality Act 2010;
      f. Rev Trayhorn’s personal integrity was acknowledged by the Prison Governor: but the quoting of Bible verses with comments during a Pentecostal service in a prison (with sex offenders) was “an inappropriate setting”.
      12. Thus, regretfully, Peter, your reading of the case is inaccurate. It is a very long and complex judgment and errors can indeed be made. Rev Trayhorn was not disciplined for preaching without security clearance. This had no substantive relevance to the case and in any event, we wonder if the quoting of a Bible verse in a Pentecostal service whilst leading worship is ‘preaching’. (The judge held it to be preaching)

      Other Factual Issues:
      13. In response to the issue of Barry’s competency as a prison gardener and the 5 complaints (made in humiliating circumstances) against him; it is determinative that these 5 complaints came after the complaint was filed against him for quoting 1 Corinthians 6:9. The only other complaint ever made against him in his years of service at the prison related to his forgetting to return some tools following his work on one occasion. The fact that a judge who showed animus towards Barry throughout the proceedings accepted all 5 complaints to be true, does not by definition make them true.
      14. The ET Judge found that the Governor visiting Barry at home was an act of charity. Barry gave evidence of a very different scenario; that he was intimidated; threatened and warned he would be in trouble. The Judge said that the Governor was accurate; are we making a mistake in believing Barry? Of course, this is now a finding of fact by the Judge, but Barry is entitled to campaign as a miscarriage of justice and that this is not the truth.
      15. Judges are legal decision makers. Some judges are good, some are bad. The law nearly always can be manipulated or interpreted. The whole appeals’ process exists for this very purpose. It took me a while to realise, as a young lawyer, that judges are not all impartial; they are human.

      Conclusion
      16. Case selection is a complex matter. The reality is we don’t ‘select’; we seek to do justice where there has been an injustice. The fact is that almost every Christian liberties case will have complicated, and sometimes unflattering facts. However, these are precisely the cases that need to be fought for because of two very important reasons. First, as in Barry’s case, the foundational principle being rigorously defended by Christian Concern is that a Christian should not be unjustly punished for manifesting his or her faith. No matter what pretext the prison used to dress up Barry’s case, he was forced out of his job for one reason, and one reason only; that being that he shared a Biblical message of sexual ethics which offended some activist prisoners who came to the service to cause a disruption. Second, by defending the Barry Trayhorns and Victoria Wasteneys of the world, we are defending the rights of all Christians in the United Kingdom. When injustices occur and are not challenged, and knowing both Barry and Victoria very well as a result of these cases I can unequivocally call what happened to them injustices, legal protections for all Christians are weakened and undermined.
      17. I would like to assure all of our supporters that our cases are never frivolous, no matter what opposing voices may say. In many of our cases; from the Cross cases to the Bus cases, false findings are made as facts against our clients, usually at the very first hearing. Some of the findings of fact are grossly unfair, but there is nothing we can do about it; some are inferences from the facts that are wrong, some are Judicial comments without any basis; and some really are findings of law.
      18. This is why we need to condense complex issues for public consumption.
      19. Our cases are vital for freedom. This is evidenced by the fact that our cases, more often than not, end either before the High Court or before the European Court of Human Rights. It should also be borne in mind that you do not hear about most of our cases because they are positively resolved before they reach the courts. We are very proud of our record, and count ourselves blessed, that Christian Concern has been directly responsible for a number of leading legal precedents being set in the United Kingdom and Strasbourg. This includes being involved in the first ever finding against the United Kingdom for a violation of religious freedom in the history of the European Court of Human Rights Eweida v United Kingdom [2013] ECHR 37. That case has now sets the new legal standard within the United Kingdom in how the Human Rights Act is to be applied to religious freedom cases.
      20. Some of us may not be comfortable with the Barry Trayhorns of this world; some of us may find their style too unrefined. I count it a great honour to be called by God to serve and defend Barry Trayhorn, Victoria Wasteney, Richard Page and the two hundred men and women (and the number is growing) who call us every year for help.
      I pray for wisdom, clarity and boldness as we enter a busy Autumn period at Christian Concern; that the Lord may continue to uphold us and that we would be able to tell the stories of our cases clearly so that many more will understand what is happening in our great nation and be moved to pray for change.
      Yours faithfully,
      Andrea Williams

  • RobinHMasters

    The passage read from 1 Corinthians also condemns theft. You would have thought that topic would have been more offensive to preach against in a prison.

  • Dominic Stockford

    I think it important, given some of the mis-speaking about events and this case, to simply put here a copy of what Andrea Williams has posted on the Christian Concern website. Sadly, some of the mis-speaking about the facts of the case occurred on this discussion blog. Please read carefully.

    “Andrea Williams has written a response to some criticism, that recently appeared on Facebook, of one of our legal cases (Barry Trayhorn). Andrea explains that legal judgments do not necessarily reflect all the facts or evidence involved in our cases. We are proud to be supporting Barry and many others who are facing miscarriages of justice because of their Christian faith.

    Background: Andrea’s recent article explaining the case of Barry Trayhorn, who was forced to resign from his job at HMP Littlehey

    Dear Peter,
    Forgive me for not responding to your post immediately. I was involved in other case matters at the time, and I always have to think carefully about how to respond to all criticism, whether personal or directed at the ministry of Christian Concern. This is in part because we are so busy with the work, and it is vital we get on with it, rather than being distracted or unduly upset by often unfair criticism based on a limited version or understanding of the facts.
    As your criticism on Barry Trayhorn has gained some traction I, and my colleagues, have taken the decision to respond to you to seek to set the record straight. I have taken the time to write to you from a wonderful holiday with my family.
    In short, we do not believe your comments to be either an accurate or a fair criticism of us. In making your assertions, you were not fully familiar with the facts of our cases, nor the workings of our courts. Nor did you take into account the heightened level of intolerance and discrimination sometimes exhibited by judges towards Christian claimants.
    I would be delighted to speak with you, meet with you, if you want to chat through understanding our cases. I have made an open offer to all that critique us in such a fashion to come to our offices and to spend some time with our legal team. Indeed our clients are always pleased and willing to explain their cases and would also welcome a supportive presence during their court hearings.
    I hope the following will provide a satisfactory response to the points you addressed in your post, regarding the case of Rev Barry Trayhorn.

    Courts
    1. The role of the courts is to determine issues of conflicting evidence. They hear from both parties to a claim and then make a determination of what they believe the factual findings to be. Like all humans, particularly in our highly politicised world, judges bring in their subjective biases in making such determinations. This was the case in both the Victoria Wasteney and Barry Trayhorn cases. The courts hear two versions of events and must decide who to believe. That does not mean that what the Court then finds is true. Sadly we are used to hostile courts making extensive findings against Christians on every factual point (as in this case).
    2. If a case was truly hopeless, it would be struck out, not going on appeal often to the European Court.

    Introduction to Rev Trayhorn case:
    3. The judgment you reference, in relation to Barry’s case, (the judgment of the Employment Tribunal (ET)) has been superseded by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) judgment which we also lost. The legal question the EAT (the Higher Court) realised it had to determine was whether the Prison authorities were subject to national or European law.
    4. The Judge at the EAT held that the correct test was national law, but we argued that the result would be different if the European law test had been used.We argued that the Court was bound to determine the case under the Human Rights Act 1998, which applies the European Convention on Human Rights in national law. This would have given Rev Trayhorn far more stringent protections regarding his religious freedom and ability to manifest his faith at a national level than does the Equality Act 2010. The technical nature of both the procedure and the legal arguments shows the danger of criticism by persons who are not familiar with all of the facts or the workings of our courts. The failure of the EAT to analyse Barry’s rights under the Human Rights Act 1988 is now subject to appeal. We are appealing to the Court of Appeal on that point on law.

    Factual Findings:
    5. As explained above the Judge and lay members of the bench at the Employment Tribunal make factual findings, but whilst in law they are binding, they don’t tell the full story.
    6. For example, in paragraph [9] of the ET judgment, it is noted that a former inmate, Darren Russell, gave evidence. His evidence was (and we can show you the witness statement) that he had been a hardened sex offender; that he had been saved by the Gospel given by Barry and that he was now successfully in self-employment. He also testified that homosexual activists were voluntarily attending the Pentecostal service and disrupting it by mocking and laughing throughout. None of this was related in the factual findings of the Court. Even if the Judge does not mention this we are entitled to say that this is true.
    7. Also, the complainant who set off the chain of events that ended with Barry leaving the prison, as we understand it from Barry, is a sex offender who had raped 2 young boys. Our Counsel’s application to cross-examine the central figure in this entire case, Barry’s accuser, was denied. We wanted to elicit evidence from him that activists, including himself, attended the service to silence the Gospel message on sexual ethics. This is not in the Judgment either but we are entitled to say that this is our position (similarly, Victoria Wasteney was also refused the right for us to cross-examine her accuser).

    Security Clearance was not a relevant legal issue: Barry was disciplined for ‘homophobic’ comments:
    8. In paragraph [10.11-12] of the ET judgment, the tribunal relays the fact that a complaint was received by the ‘Real Voices’ co-ordinator because of Barry’s opposition to same sex marriage; and he was stopped from preaching because he lacked security clearance. We accept that the tribunal found that the reason for preventing him from preaching was the lack of security clearance but that finding leaves many of our main arguments unanswered. It does not disclose, for example, that his lack of security clearance was used as a pretext to prevent him from preaching further; that he had previously preached regularly over a long period of time; that he had security clearance to work at the prison and that the lack of security clearance had never been raised or previously enforced during a sustained period of involvement in the chapel services; that the issue of security clearance was never brought up prior to his quoting 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; or that security clearance is typically a measure used only in relation to Islamic extremists.
    In any event, this issue is a red herring! Barry was disciplined for making a “homophobic” comment in quoting 1 Cor 6:9 as this was deemed derogatory to homosexuals.
    9. The primary evidence of the dispute is in ET [10.19-20] where it is established that the Rev Trayhorn (whose only role in that service was to lead worship) quoted the Bible verse 1 Cor 6: 9-11; and proceeded to make the following comment:

    “You may want to complain about this but this is the Word of God. God loves you and wants to forgive you.”

    10. Barry was thereafter investigated for the making of “homophobic statements” ET[10.21(viii)], referred to an internal Disciplinary Tribunal for the making of “homophobic statements” ET [10.21(xvi)], and disciplined for making “homophobic comments” ET [10.43-44] (with the issue of the order not to preach solely as a compounding factor paragraph ET [10.46]).
    11. The primary findings of the Employment Tribunal (ET 10.43-48) were:
    a. Rev Trayhorn was “guilty of making homophobic comments”;
    b. Rev Trayhorn had made a “direct quote” from the Bible “and that particular piece of scripture was potentially derogatory to homosexuals”
    c. Rev Trayhornlacked “sensitivity” in his delivery;
    d. Homosexual prisoners attending the service were “upset and annoyed at the content of the delivery”;
    e. Rev Trayhorn was “not sensitive” to the Equality Policy or the Equality Act 2010;
    f. Rev Trayhorn’s personal integrity was acknowledged by the Prison Governor: but the quoting of Bible verses with comments during a Pentecostal service in a prison (with sex offenders) was “an inappropriate setting”.
    12. Thus, regretfully, Peter, your reading of the case is inaccurate. It is a very long and complex judgment and errors can indeed be made. Rev Trayhorn was not disciplined for preaching without security clearance. This had no substantive relevance to the case and in any event, we wonder if the quoting of a Bible verse in a Pentecostal service whilst leading worship is ‘preaching’. (The judge held it to be preaching)

    Other Factual Issues:
    13. In response to the issue of Barry’s competency as a prison gardener and the 5 complaints (made in humiliating circumstances) against him; it is determinative that these 5 complaints came after the complaint was filed against him for quoting 1 Corinthians 6:9. The only other complaint ever made against him in his years of service at the prison related to his forgetting to return some tools following his work on one occasion. The fact that a judge who showed animus towards Barry throughout the proceedings accepted all 5 complaints to be true, does not by definition make them true.
    14. The ET Judge found that the Governor visiting Barry at home was an act of charity. Barry gave evidence of a very different scenario; that he was intimidated; threatened and warned he would be in trouble. The Judge said that the Governor was accurate; are we making a mistake in believing Barry? Of course, this is now a finding of fact by the Judge, but Barry is entitled to campaign as a miscarriage of justice and that this is not the truth.
    15. Judges are legal decision makers. Some judges are good, some are bad. The law nearly always can be manipulated or interpreted. The whole appeals’ process exists for this very purpose. It took me a while to realise, as a young lawyer, that judges are not all impartial; they are human.

    Conclusion
    16. Case selection is a complex matter. The reality is we don’t ‘select’; we seek to do justice where there has been an injustice. The fact is that almost every Christian liberties case will have complicated, and sometimes unflattering facts. However, these are precisely the cases that need to be fought for because of two very important reasons. First, as in Barry’s case, the foundational principle being rigorously defended by Christian Concern is that a Christian should not be unjustly punished for manifesting his or her faith. No matter what pretext the prison used to dress up Barry’s case, he was forced out of his job for one reason, and one reason only; that being that he shared a Biblical message of sexual ethics which offended some activist prisoners who came to the service to cause a disruption. Second, by defending the Barry Trayhorns and Victoria Wasteneys of the world, we are defending the rights of all Christians in the United Kingdom. When injustices occur and are not challenged, and knowing both Barry and Victoria very well as a result of these cases I can unequivocally call what happened to them injustices, legal protections for all Christians are weakened and undermined.
    17. I would like to assure all of our supporters that our cases are never frivolous, no matter what opposing voices may say. In many of our cases; from the Cross cases to the Bus cases, false findings are made as facts against our clients, usually at the very first hearing. Some of the findings of fact are grossly unfair, but there is nothing we can do about it; some are inferences from the facts that are wrong, some are Judicial comments without any basis; and some really are findings of law.
    18. This is why we need to condense complex issues for public consumption.
    19. Our cases are vital for freedom. This is evidenced by the fact that our cases, more often than not, end either before the High Court or before the European Court of Human Rights. It should also be borne in mind that you do not hear about most of our cases because they are positively resolved before they reach the courts. We are very proud of our record, and count ourselves blessed, that Christian Concern has been directly responsible for a number of leading legal precedents being set in the United Kingdom and Strasbourg. This includes being involved in the first ever finding against the United Kingdom for a violation of religious freedom in the history of the European Court of Human Rights Eweida v United Kingdom [2013] ECHR 37. That case has now sets the new legal standard within the United Kingdom in how the Human Rights Act is to be applied to religious freedom cases.
    20. Some of us may not be comfortable with the Barry Trayhorns of this world; some of us may find their style too unrefined. I count it a great honour to be called by God to serve and defend Barry Trayhorn, Victoria Wasteney, Richard Page and the two hundred men and women (and the number is growing) who call us every year for help.
    I pray for wisdom, clarity and boldness as we enter a busy Autumn period at Christian Concern; that the Lord may continue to uphold us and that we would be able to tell the stories of our cases clearly so that many more will understand what is happening in our great nation and be moved to pray for change.
    Yours faithfully,
    Andrea Williams”