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Editorial: Down the Liberal Lane


Down the Liberal Lane

By the time this edition reaches you, the Employment Tribunal in Derbyshire may have rendered a verdict in the case brought by the Revd Dr Bernard Randall.  

Dr Randall had served as college chaplain at Cambridge before being appointed school chaplain at Trent College, Nottingham, in the Diocese of Derby. Trent College is a Church of England school, in fact, a school which exists “to educate boys and girls according to the Protestant and Evangelical principles of the Church of England.”

Dr Randall is at the Employment Tribunal on account of a sermon he delivered to the pupils at Trent College. His sermon offered the students a choice—a choice not to blindly accept the liberal way of looking at identity because the Church offered another.  Dr Randall was subsequently dismissed from the school, and was flagged as a Safeguarding Risk by Derby Diocesan Safeguarding officials.  Not only that, the school went so far as to report him to Prevent, the government’s counter-terrorism watchdog.

Most preposterously, the Diocesan Safeguarding team decided that, “Due to some church scripture supporting Revd Randall’s views the church itself may also be a risk-factor.”  Let that sink in. These safeguarding pen-pushers have arrogated to themselves the right to stand over Scripture and Church canons, the very founding principles of the body which employs them. The Church of England’s historic position that marriage is limited to one man and one woman in a life-long union has been deemed a Safeguarding risk by Church of England officials.  Who employed the fox to guard the henhouse in Derby?

Surely his diocesan Bishop Libby Lane could have mustered the moral courage of the episcopal vows and step in. Is it not incumbent upon any bishop to defend a dedicated cleric who faithfully explains Church teaching, and call out the error of the Safeguarding team’s approach?  Whither the consecration vows to “banish and drive away all strange and erroneous doctrine”? Did they get forgotten in the excitement of that day and all the media interest in the Church of England’s first woman bishop? There has been ample opportunity to speak out but nary a peep has come from the liberal Libby.  Such moral cowardice is tragic, but even more so, maddening.

Worse than the episcopal silence is the fact that the bishop has barred Dr Randall from exercising his ministry as an ordained presbyter in the Church of England.  His crime? Daring to teach and maintain Canon B30:

“1. The Church of England affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, for the procreation and nurture of children, for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections, and for the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.

“2. The teaching of our Lord affirmed by the Church of England is expressed and maintained in the Form of Solemnization of Matrimony contained in The Book of Common Prayer.

“3. It shall be the duty of the minister, when application is made to him for matrimony to be solemnized in the church of which he is the minister, to explain to the two persons who desire to be married the Church’s doctrine of marriage as herein set forth, and the need of God’s grace in order that they may discharge aright their obligations as married persons.”

There is ‘something rotten’ in the Diocese of Derby when a priest can be suspended, investigated and dismissed for faithfully upholding Church of England teaching, indeed the teaching of the Church Catholic and of our Lord Jesus himself. It is incredible that this can happen while the person who has solemnly vowed to guard the faith sits in silence. One might have expected no different from liberal Libby but so far, no other bishop has publicly supported Dr Randall. The silence of the shepherds is disheartening for many orthodox parochial clergy who fear they may be next, and that they too will be left to a similar fate by their local pastor pastorum.

Dr Randall, evidently you have been abandoned by the hierarchy of the Church of England but you have not been abandoned by the Lord of the Church nor by his saints within the Church.

The big question remains is when will the Bishop of Derby be the subject of a CDM for not fulfilling her canonical responsibilities?  The diocesan liberal lane was a wrong turn.