Press Release

Church of England dismisses then re-opens disciplinary case against vicar for describing transgender priest as ‘a bloke’

17 December 2023         Issued by: Christian Concern

The Church of England (CofE) has re-opened an investigation into one of its former clergy for calling a transgender priest ‘a bloke’ in a YouTube Vlog.

This year, since launching his own weekly news channel on YouTube, Rev. Brett Murphy, 38, has been on the receiving end of a coordinated campaign resulting in a record four Clergy Disciplinary Measures (CDM) being brought against him.

On his channel, Rev. Murphy discusses weekly the latest news from a Christian Orthodox Anglican perspective.

A CDM is a formal procedure for handling allegations of serious misconduct by clergy within the CofE. If a CDM is upheld by the presiding Bishop, it is kept on a clergy’s ‘blue file’ and can lead to rebukes, dismissal and prevent further employment within the CofE.

While leading St. David’s Church in Coalville, Leicestershire. Rev. Murphy had four CDMs upheld by the diocesan registrar for:

  • Misgendering the CofE’s first transgender Archdeacon, Rev. Rachel Mann.
  • Social media posts criticising prayers put forward for the King’s coronation by the same Archdeacon that aligned with witchcraft and described Jesus as ‘our sister’.  The complaint was anonymous.
  • Expressing concern over the teaching of marriage and human sexuality in UK schools in a sermon.
  • And finally, a complaint for not visiting a member of the public in hospital who no longer attended his church. Rev. Murphy was not notified the man was in hospital or even sick.

With support from the Christian Legal Centre, each CDM brought against him was dismissed by the Bishop of Loughborough, the Rt Revd Saju Muthalaly.

Last week, however, the CDM which involved Rev. Murphy describing the CofE’s first transgender archdeacon, Rachel Mann, as a ‘bloke’, was re-opened.

In July, Rev. Murphy left the CofE and moved to the Free Church of England (FCE) following the CofE’s announcement that it planned to introduce ‘same-sex blessings.’

However, he continues to be pursued and believes the CDM process is being ‘abused and weaponised’ to silence, intimidate and force Anglican priests out of the CofE who do not affirm and celebrate the plans to introduce same-sex marriage to places of worship.

The Vlog

Opening his weekly Vlog on 23 June 2023 to his 13,000 YouTube subscribers, Rev. Murphy discussed the latest news that week from the Diocese of Manchester.

The Bishop of Manchester, Rt. Rev. David Walker, who is one of the most vocal LGBT voices in the CofE, had announced that the Rev. Rachel Mann had been appointed the new Archdeacon of Bolton and Salford.

Rev. Murphy said: “Now you may wonder ‘is that really newsworthy, Brett’? You may roll your eyes, if you are a complementarian, that another feminist is getting a prominent high-ranking position in the CofE, but this is worse than that. The Rev. Rachel Mann is in fact, biologically, a bloke, who identifies and lives as a woman.”

Rev. Mann has previously said to the media: ‘I’m self-evidently a woman – but I’m glad I was once a man.’

Rev. Murphy then questioned whether the new appointment is ‘positioning’ Rev. Mann to become the CofE’s first transsexual bishop.

He describes it as a ‘troublesome story’ and asks how Rev. Mann would deal with a member of their congregation who sees their lifestyle as in ‘complete rebellion against God’s word.’

Discussing a recent article written by Rev. Mann, Rev. Murphy highlights that they wrote that not everything was bad about ‘The Fall’ in the Book of Genesis and that Eve’s rebellion against God was not that bad. ‘To me that is a heresy’, he said.

He continued: “So what you are seeing here is someone who is a radical rainbow activist being put in a position of high authority in a diocese.” He describes it as another sign of the CofE’s continued descent into apostasy and heresy. He says it is not just a ‘slippery slope’, but a ‘landslide’.

Complaint dismissed

Despite Rev. Murphy subsequently leaving the CofE, however, a complaint was made under Section 13 of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 against him for his comments in the Vlog.

In 2021 the complainant was appointed by the Bishop of Derby, Rt. Rev Libby Lane, to be the Diocesan Director for Education in Derby as well as Leicester.

This is the same Bishop of Derby and diocese which backed a school that sacked and reported Rev. Dr Bernard Randall to the government’s counter-terrorism watchdog for a moderate sermon on the CofE’s own teaching on marriage.

The same diocese and bishop oversaw an investigation into Dr Randall and concluded a risk assessment of him by stating that the Bible and the CofE’s teaching on human sexuality is ‘a risk to itself.’

Following the complaint, an investigation was launched by the Bishop of Loughborough,
Rt Revd Saju Muthalaly, who said in his report:

‘The Complaint…has required me to give some considerable thought to the appropriate course of action. I recognise [Rev. Murphy] is no longer a licensed priest within the Church of England but he is still subject to censure under the Measure notwithstanding.’

The Bishop concluded: ‘Despite my significant concerns and views [Rev. Murphy] should take serious stock about he is [sic] carrying out ministry, how he talks to and with people, particularly to and about those with whom he disagrees, I do not propose to take any further formal action under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 in respect of this Complaint having had regard to the Guidance by the Clergy Discipline Commission on Penalties. This letter will remain on Revd Murphy’s file for the appropriate time.’

Complaint re-opened

Dissatisfied, on 3 October 2023, the complainant requested a review of the Bishop of Loughborough’s decision and appears to have found an ally in The Worshipful Canon Ruth Arlow. In her re-complaint letter, the complainant said she was: “unclear why the penalty of rebuke has not been considered.”

Canon Arlow, a barrister, was selected by the President of Tribunals for the CofE, Dame Sarah Asplin, to act under section 4 (4) of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 in conducting the review.

Canon Arlow said in her determination letter published on November 9: ‘The Complainant has now applied for a review of that decision. My role is to review rather than re-determine the Bishop’s decision. Under section 13 of the Measure, I can only overturn that decision if I consider that that decision was “plainly wrong”.’

Furthermore, Canon Arlow, in a carefully worded paragraph which ultimately sends the message that CofE clergy should not criticise the introduction of transgender priests, stated: ‘At times as we seek to hear God’s call for the Church in this generation, the clergy will hold different views. However, all debate should be had in a spirit of respect and love, and ministers should always be willing to work with each other, whatever views are held on current topics of debate.’

Concluding, Canon Arlow says: ‘I have not found this an easy review to determine. I have nevertheless, after lengthy consideration, determined that the Bishop’s decision was “plainly wrong”. Accordingly, under section 13(3)(b) of the Measure I remit this complaint to the Bishop and direct that the Bishop reconsider his determination that there be no further action.’

The case will now go back to the Bishop of Loughborough for a re-determination.

The Bishop will decide whether to overturn his original decision and push for a sanction against Rev. Murphy, which could involve a ‘rebuke’. If Rev. Murphy was to reject such a sanction, the case could go to a full tribunal hearing at significant cost to the CofE.

Complaints process ‘weaponised’

Rev. Murphy, who is originally from Australia, said: “As a Christian minister it is my duty to proclaim the gospel whenever I can. I make no apology for that.

“The decisions by the CofE to investigate and pursue me for stating biological truth has reinforced and vindicated all the concerns that I raised in the original vlog.

“The re-opening of the complaint especially exposes the drive within the CofE to censor and banish any dissenting voice that does not agree or celebrate extreme LGBT ideology.

“Getting a CDM through the post is a scary experience as it is the most formal complaint you can receive. You start to panic and believe your livelihood and career is on the line. I am concerned by how many clergy out there are going through the same process and are suffering in silence.

“Many orthodox Anglican clergy are on the receiving end of a system that is being misused and abused. The process is designed to get the bad guys, the clergy who have done something seriously wrong, not for stating biological truth that is aligned with the CofE’s own teaching.

“CDMs are being used as a weapon by the liberals to attack clergy who do not agree with them on sexual ethics. It cannot be applied in reverse. If, for example, I was to launch a complaint against a vicar who was vocal in their support for an LGBT ideology which goes against the very fabric of biblical scripture and the CofE’s own teaching, my complaint would not get past the first post.

“What is happening to me is a case of pure vengeance for daring to say what I have. It is an attempt to slur, slander and discredit me and take me down even though I have left the CofE.

“Many other Orthodox priests in the CofE are telling me that they are being pushed out and bullied if they do not go along with the same-sex marriage agenda. They are being harassed, pushed to the margins, are having false complaints made about them, and, shall we say, are encouraged to be silent or leave.

“I have (to) put a lot on the line but will continue to speak out on the grave concerns I have for the Church of England, as its landslide into apostasy and irrelevance continues.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “The Christian Legal Centre is dealing with a huge volume of cases involving clergy who have been intimidated and punished simply for expressing standard Christian beliefs on marriage and sexual ethics.

“Promoting same-sex blessings is a catastrophe for the CofE. It is a clear departure from the biblical model for marriage. We will continue to see the Church of England decline if it insists on continuing this course.

“The churches that are growing in the UK are the ones that hold fast to traditional biblical teaching on marriage and family. This is what people want and expect from the Church.

“People expect the church to be a standard bearer for the world. They don’t expect the church to be following the ever changing culture of the world.”


Notes to editors: 

One of the previous CDM’s brought against Rev. Murphy involved a complaint regarding his response to the following prayer put forward by Rev. Mann ahead of the King’s coronation in May:

‘Holy God, chuckling wise woman, tender and strange, we bless you.
Bless us, trouble us, bewitch us into delight in your love, mercy and grace.
Christ our sister, unite us in our holy bleeding.
As you took spit and dust for healing,
Take our hands cracked and huge as a washerwoman’s for God’s work.
Take our sacred bodies for the healing of the world.
Birth-spirit, as you coursed in intimacy through the veins
Of Eve and Adam, Hagar and Abraham, Deborah and Lappidoth, Naomi and Ruth
Be the pulse of our lives. Desire us with your desire.

To which Rev. Murphy responded with a tweet: ‘Prayer taken from the website of @RevRachelMann
 newly appointed Transsexual Archdeacon of Bolton and Salford. Is this sort of blasphemous idolatrous theology now officially endorsed in the @DioManchester and @churchofengland ? The brakes haven’t come off the CofE, the wheels have!’

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