Christian prison chaplain who quoted Bible on homosexuality loses unfair dismissal case

Singer and chaplain Rev Barry Trayhorn was unsuccessful in his claim for constructive dismissal against HMP Littlehey.Twitter

A prison chaplain who was accused of reading "homophobic" Bible verses to prisoners has lost his claim for unfair dismissal.

The Rev Barry Trayhorn, a Pentecostal minister, said he was discriminated against when he was reprimanded for the Bible verses he read to prisoners at HMP Littlehey where he worked as a gardener and led services in the chapel as a volunteer.

He said the passages were about God's love and he had wanted to explain the concept of forgiveness to the prisoners.

In one service he read a passage from 1 Corinthians 6 which condemns homosexual behaviour.

He was given a final warning by prison authorities who found he had breached equality laws. Trayhorn claimed he had been forced out of his paid job as a gardener as a result.

The Christian Legal Centre backed him in his constructive dismissal case.

The tribunal found he spoke in an "insensitive" way which failed to have regard for the special nature of the congregation in the prison.

Speaking about the verdict, Trayhorn said: "This case is alarming on a number of fronts. The tribunal's reasoning was based on the effect that my message, which included the Bible verses, had on those who heard them.

"Yet those who attend chapel do so voluntarily to worship God and to learn what the Bible has to say. The congregation know that the Bible will be preached on, and therefore complaints should have been considered in light of that.

"This decision has two very worrying consequences: Firstly, the tribunal has effectively said that inmates will no longer be able to listen to sermons preached from the Bible which could change their behaviour for the better, as they become Christians and God transforms their lives.

"Secondly, this case is a warning shot to church leaders across the land that the ever growing political correctness will soon be hitting pulpits and if congregations do not like what they hear about sexuality, complaints will be made."

Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre said: "This is a chilling judgment and one which should alarm MPs and Church leaders alike. What we are seeing, month by month, is a systematic marginalising of Christians in public life. It happens slowly, case by case, sector by sector but before long, no Christian, whether they be ordained like Mr Trayhorn or simply an office worker, will be able to openly state what their deep, sincere convictions are without fear of being reported to their employer and called a bigot.

"Last year the Prime Minister recorded an Easter message saying that we should be proud to be a Christian country, and how his Government had supported churches by giving money for the upkeep of cathedrals and the like. That is his rhetoric. The reality is that his Government's policies have done everything but support Christianity in this country. It is time for MPs and senior church leaders to wake up and see what is slowly developing in our nation and stand up for Biblical values."