CAMBRIDGESHIRE, U.K. — A Christian prison worker who was barred from participating in chapel services after quoting a Scripture that references homosexuality has lost his discrimination case before an employment tribunal.
As previously reported, Barry Trayhorn has been employed as a gardener at HMP Littlehey since 2011, and since 2012 he has volunteered to help with the chapel services at the invitation of the prison chaplain. The facility houses those who have been convicted of sex offenses.
In May of last year, while leading worship, Trayhorn felt led to quote from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and exhort prisoners that forgiveness is available to those who will repent.
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God,” the Scripture reads. “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
“As I led the worship, I spoke about the wonder of God’s love and the forgiveness that comes through Jesus Christ to those who recognize their sin and repent,” Trayhorn said in a statement. “I simply said what the Bible says. Prisoners need to hear God’s word just as much as anyone else. If people come to a Christian chapel service, we cannot hold back the gospel truth that God forgives those who repent.”
A complaint was lodged against Trayhorn four days later, and he was barred from assisting further with chapel services, being advised that he had violated prison policy and U.K. equality laws for speaking against homosexuality.
“The mere mention of homosexual behavior in the Bible verses that I quoted provoked complaint,” he outlined. “I was barred from taking part in chapel services and trouble came my way.”
Trayhorn was advised that a disciplinary hearing would ensue.
In August of last year, he left work after the stress literally made him sick, and officially resigned in November, citing harassment for his faith. A disciplinary hearing was held a day later.
Trayhorn soon took his case to an employment tribunal, contending that he was essentially forced out of his main job as a gardener through the way he was treated for quoting Scripture on homosexuality during the chapel service.
Now, the tribunal has struck down his claim, opining that Trayhorn was not discriminated against on religious grounds “because of the way his message was received.” The court said that Trayhorn spoke in an “insensitive” way which “failed to have regard for the special nature of the congregation in the prison.”
“This case is alarming on a number of fronts,” Trayhorn said in a statement. “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 behavior for the better, as they become Christians and God transforms their lives,” he outlined. “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.”