Christian Prison Preacher to Appeal Tribunal Ruling

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: April 27, 2017

A Christian prison worker who felt he had no option but to resign after being disciplined for quoting from the Bible during a prison chapel service, will challenge an Employment Tribunal's ruling that the prison was right to discipline him. In March 2016, the Employment Tribunal ruled that Barry Trayhorn spoke of God's forgiveness in an "insensitive" way which "failed to have regard for the special nature of the congregation in the prison".

In March 2016, the Employment Tribunal ruled that Barry Trayhorn was not discriminated against because of his Christian faith, and that the prison had acted properly in disciplining him. Mr. Trayhorn, an ordained Pentecostal minister, worked as a prison gardener and volunteered in chapel at HMP Littlehey, a prison for sex offenders.
But after he spoke during a prison chapel service about the wonder of God's forgiveness for those who repent, he received an aggressive response from prison authorities and eventually resigned.  During a service in May 2014, Mr. Trayhorn spoke of God's forgiveness for those who repent, quoting 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 from memory. The verses speak of people who had been forgiven a number of sins, including adultery, greed, drunkenness and homosexual sexual activity. But four days after the service, a complaint was made about Mr. Trayhorn's orthodox Christian teaching, and he was immediately barred from participating in future chapel services. Over the following weeks, a series of issues were raised about his conduct as a gardener at the prison, prompting disciplinary procedures. Mr. Trayhorn resigned from his job in November 2014, saying that he had been harassed because of his Christian faith and that it was impossible for him to return to work, given the way that he had been treated. Two days after his resignation, a disciplinary hearing was held in his absence, at which he was given a final written warning. Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Mr. Trayhorn took his case to an Employment Tribunal in November 2015, claiming that he had been punished by the prison because of his Christian faith. Mr. Trayhorn described the Employment Tribunal's judgment as "alarming on a number of fronts". "The Tribunal's reasoning was based on the effect that my message, which included the Bible verses, had on those who heard them. Yet those who attend chapel do so voluntarily to worship God and to learn what the Bible has to say," he said. One of Mr. Trayhorn's witnesses gave evidence to the Tribunal that hearing Mr. Trayhorn speak at the chapel services helped him to find faith. Source: Christian Concern