Church teaching used as evidence against Christian in court

12 July 2019

Andrea Williams explains how Church of England teaching was used as evidence against a Christian in court.

I have been in court with Dr David Mackereth this week. Dr Mackereth, now famously, said that he would not call a six-foot-tall bearded man ‘madam’, and for this he was promptly dismissed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

Must use chosen pronoun

The DWP position is that Dr Mackereth should refer to patients by their chosen pronoun. Dr MacKereth says that this would go against his conscience since as a committed Christian he is committed to telling the truth. He has explained: “I believe gender is defined by biology and genetics. And that as a Christian the Bible teaches us that God made humans male or female.”

It is very disturbing to see a Doctor with 26 years of experience in A & E medicine being forced to choose between telling the truth and his profession. In dismissing Dr Mackereth, the DWP has managed to violate freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion in one go. We rely on doctors telling the truth. Imagine if they were forced to accept a patient’s chosen diagnosis!

Evidence from the Church of England

What really upset me though, as a member of the Church of England’s General Synod, was that the people who sacked Dr Mackereth for his Christian beliefs relied on the Church of England’s position to justify their actions. I have spent a lot of time trying to tell Christians, of all denominations, that our public witness to the Truth – all aspects of it – is vital.  When we are on TV, radio, or even in court we are often told that our brand of Christianity is not what lots of other Christians think. But, this week, for the first time, what the Church of England says was used as evidence against a Christian in court. For me it was another stark reminder of the damage caused by the Church of England’s abandonment of truth.

The evidence deployed against Dr Mackereth included reference to the House of Bishops Guidance for welcoming transgender people, and the Pastoral Guidance for use in conjunction with the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith in the context of gender transition. I criticised these moves towards acceptance of transgenderism at the time, and Carys Moseley explained why the transgender issue is a first-order gospel issue.

What is important for Dr Mackereth’s case is that the Pastoral Guidance says that transgender people should be referred to using their chosen name and pronoun. The guidance is therefore that Christians should not tell the truth about the biological sex of a transgender person. I think that, at the very least, in a civilised and fair society all people should accept this is, at least, a freedom of conscience issue.

Cultural Marxism and the Church of England?

A member of the tribunal, asking for a clarification on the Christian view of gender, asked Dr Mackereth about the position of the Church of England as shown in the evidence presented. Dr Mackereth had to explain that he does not agree with the position of the Church of England and that he is not a member of it. He said that the position of the Church of England was evidence that cultural Marxism had entered the Church. He said that the nature of man, as described in Genesis 1, was foundational to the gospel; fundamental to his Christian belief and as fundamental to him as the air that he breathed. He argued that the majority of the faithful in the Church of England would agree with him, over against the Bishops.

If he had been a member of the Church of England this would have seriously weakened his position. The muddled position of the established Church on this issue fundamentally weakens the witness of Christians who want to speak and witness to the foundations of Christian truth. And yet we do not despair. Though no bishops will speak, though the established Church flounders in this, as on many other orthodox matters of faith, Dr David Mackereth does speak. A brave man, unprepared for the media onslaught, untrained both for appearances in the media or the English courts, he stands for Christ exemplifying I Cor 1:27:

“Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful”(NLT).

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