CAMBRIDGESHIRE, U.K. — A Christian prison worker who was barred from participating in chapel services after quoting a Scripture that references homosexuality has been granted permission to appeal a ruling from earlier this year striking down his discrimination claim.
A hearing had been held last week over the matter, which has now resulted in approval to appeal the ruling to the U.K.’s Employment Appeal Tribunal.
“It is vital that we stand with Barry and challenge the way that he has been treated,” Christian Concern’s Andrea Williams said in a statement on Monday, announcing the development. “If gospel truth cannot be spoken in a voluntary Christian service, where will we encounter such censorship next?”
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.
But in March, 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.”
Now, Trayhorn will have a chance to have his case heard again.
“Please give thanks that permission has been granted and continue to pray for Barry and the team as they prepare for the full hearing at the Employment Appeal Tribunal,” Christian Concern said on Monday.