Preaching tolerance is no longer tolerated

14 May 2021

Tim Dieppe, Christian Concern’s Head of Public Policy, comments on the case of Rev. Dr Bernard Randall.

How can it be that a Christian chaplain at an independent school with a Christian ethos lost his job for delivering a sermon in chapel which encourages pupils to respect those with whom we may disagree?

Love your neighbour (even when you disagree)

The full sermon can be read or watched online here.  In it, Dr Bernard Randall expounds with great clarity the virtue of loving people even when we profoundly disagree with them.

“Now when ideologies compete, we should not descend into abuse, we should respect the beliefs of others, even where we disagree. Above all, we need to treat each other with respect, not personal attacks – that’s what loving your neighbour as yourself means. By all means discuss, have a reasoned debate about beliefs, but while it’s OK to try and persuade each other, no one should be told they must accept an ideology. Love the person, even where you profoundly dislike the ideas. Don’t denigrate a person simply for having opinions and beliefs which you don’t share.”

Who could reasonably disagree with that? You would have to be an extremist to say that people who don’t agree with you should not be respected. It’s a short step from there to endorsing political violence. Once you lose respect for others, you can start to dehumanise them, and then legitimise them losing rights, and ultimately sanction the use of force against them.

It’s the school that is intolerant

Sadly, the evidence is that our society is moving towards a type of extremism which is just as intolerant as previous regimes have been in history. In an Orwellian manipulation of language, those who preach tolerance are branded intolerant and not tolerated.

Incredibly, Dr Bernard Randall was reported to the government’s terrorist watchdog by the school. He was not the one being intolerant or extremist. It is actually the school which is intolerant and a danger to children here.

What the school could not tolerate was even the suggestion that it is OK to disagree with LGBT ideology. Dr Randall explained to the pupils that, “you do not have to accept the ideas and ideologies of LGBT activists.” He did not say that they should not accept them, he merely said that they did not have to accept them. He went on:

“You should no more be told you have to accept LGBT ideology, than you should be told you must be in favour of Brexit, or must be Muslim – to both of which I’m sure most of you would quite rightly object.”

Again, who could object to this? The logic is straightforward. Schools should not enforce any particular political or religious viewpoint. Let’s welcome and respect people of all different viewpoints and encourage reasoned debate.

There is just one point where Dr Randall clearly stated that one aspect of what some LGBT activists say is wrong is on gender identity. He pointed out that “some LGBT activists will happily lie about gender identity being a legally protected characteristic (which it isn’t).”  This claim had been made by the organisation Educate and Celebrate in the school. Dr Randall was quite right to correct this point of fact for the pupils. He would be remiss not to do so.

A rival ideology

Here is where the intolerance of the LGBT ideology becomes clear. Even the suggestion that some people might disagree with LGBT doctrine, and should be free to do so, is too threatening to be tolerated. Dr Randall doesn’t even say that he disagrees with LGBT ideology. Neither does he say that pupils should not accept it. He merely says that they don’t have to accept it.

Dr Randall was, after all, only fulfilling his job description. It is the job of the chaplain to uphold the Christian ethos of the school. As he points out in his article in The Critic,

“But if you want to import a different belief system into the school, don’t expect the chaplain to sit idly by. And make no mistake, this is a different belief system.”

At root this is a clash of ideologies. LGBT ideology is fundamentally opposed to Christian ideology when it comes to the nature of humanity and sexual morality. What’s more, as is becoming more and more evident in cases like these, it is fundamentally intolerant of Christian ideology.

Whose side are you on?

Schools, colleges, workplaces, and individuals are increasingly being called to choose which side they are on in this clash of ideologies. Will you promote LGBT ideology or stand against it? There is no neutral ground.

Dr Randall made clear which side he was on. He has suffered as a result, but I hope and pray that his case will serve to encourage others to resist the intolerance of LGBT. Each of us needs to make a similar decision. We are talking about rival gods. As Joshua said to the Israelites:

“Choose this day whom you will serve … But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
(Joshua 24:15)

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