LONDON, BRITAIN (BosNewsLife)– A Pentecoctal pastor faced a British employment tribunal Monday, November 2, after he was allegedly forced to resign
from his job at a sex offenders’ prison because Bible verses he quoted were deemed “homophobic”.
Ahead of Monday’s hearing, Reverend Barry Trayhorn said the troubles began while he was leading “worship at a chapel service in May 2014” at the HMP Littlehey detention facility in Cambridgeshire where he spoke about “the wonder of God’s forgiveness for those who repent”.
Trayhorn quoted 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 which mentions a number of sins including adultery, homosexual practice, greed and drunkenness. “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves,” the first sentences say.
“Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive,
or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God,” the Bible verses continue.
“Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God,” the verses add, according to a New Living Translation used by BosNewsLife.
Barry said in a statement that four days after the service, a complaint was made apparently by prison management.
He was “immediately barred from helping wtth chapel services. Barry was later told that his comments during the service were “homophobic” and breached national prison policy,” confirmed his defense team to BosNewsLife.
“He was notified that there would be a disciplinary hearing,” said Christian Concern and its sister group Christian Legal Centre. The “disciplinary hearing was held in his absence…Barry was given a final written warning.”
In August, Barry was reportedly signed off work with stress-related illness. On November 4, 2014, Barry resigned, saying he had been harassed because of his Christian faith and that it was impossible for him to return to work, given the way he had been treated.
The 51-year-old father of three, a Country and Western singer who has played in clubs for years, started work supervising prisoners in the jail’s gardens in 2011.
He later began helping out with music in the chapel, even preaching formal sermons at some services.
“I simply said what the Bible says,” the pastor explained. “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.”
(Story continues after this video footage obtained by BosNewsLife)
He said that was also his main message during the service that provoked an angry reaction from management. “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 recognise their sin and repent. I said that I am the worst sinner I know.”
However he noted “that wasn’t politically correct.” The, “mere mention of homosexual behaviour in the Bible verses that I quoted provoked complaint. I was barred from taking part in chapel services and trouble came my way.”
The pastor said he was put “under enormous pressure for daring to say what the Bible says.”
The prison has denied wrongdoing telling media it had acted “reasonably” throughout. It also rejected Trayhorn’s claims that it had discriminated against him because of his religious beliefs.
The Ministry of Justice declined to comment, apparently awaiting the outcome of Monday’s hearing.
“Is the Bible given to prisoners now to be censored to remove anything that people may find difficult to hear?” the pastor wondered in separate remarks. His defense team agrees. “It is astonishing that Barry was forced out of a sex offenders’ prison for repeating what the Bible says about sexual behaviour – during a chapel service – as he spoke about repentance and forgiveness,” said Andrea Williams, Christian Concerns chief executive.
“This is an important case,” she told BosNewsLife in a statement. “Freedom to maintain a clear Gospel witness in prisons needs to be protected. “No-one should be denied an opportunity to hear what God has to say about the way to restoration, least of all those in prison for sexual offences.”
The defense team said it does not charge the pastor for its services but depends on donations. “We’re delighted that Barry came to us and grateful to all those who enable us to support
him and other Christians like him,” Williams said.
The latest case follows amid a wider debate and incidents at working places in Britain where even a street preacher was detained over Bible verses he preached.
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