The cancelled chaplain

As a Christian chaplain I have to challenge atheistic Queer Theory

Artillery Row

Dr Randall was referred to the anti-terrorism Prevent programme and initially sacked for gross misconduct by the fee-paying Trent College in Derbyshire after he told pupils they were free to criticise the school’s LGBT policy

“And he began to teach them saying, ‘To what shall I compare this generation? There was once a great King, who wished to please his people. And some of his courtiers came to him saying, “O King, live for ever. We counsel you to build a fine pavilion in your palace, which may be for the enjoyment of the people.” And the King was pleased with this.

But the palace architect came to the King, saying, “O King, truly a pavilion is a magnificent project, but these plans fit ill with the rest of palace, and the place whereon they would build it has quicksand. Let me guide you in this.”

But the courtiers were determined, and persuaded the King to build the pavilion entirely to their own plan. Then a day came when the architect addressed the people, saying, “This fine pavilion seems good, but the plans are faulty, and the ground unsure. Use it if you will, but beware the risk.”

Now the courtiers waxed exceeding wroth, saying to the King, “What doth this architect know of such things? He hath disrespected your majesty, and displeased the people. Let us away with him.”

So the King ordered the architect to be imprisoned, and then, when a great plague came upon the land, to be taken away in secret and executed.

“What do you say? What shall become of that King and his courtiers on the Day of Judgement?”

You will search in vain for this parable in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, because I made it up to illustrate a key point. No one, I think, would quarrel with an architect over building plans. So why ignore a school chaplain when he says that he wants to make a contribution to discussions about the values of the school, especially as they touch upon aspects of its Christian ethos, its explicitly Church of England foundation?

Is it because everyone feels entitled to weigh in on religion, in a way they wouldn’t with a “proper” field of expertise, like architecture, or perish the thought, epidemiology? But if you have someone who is on the staff precisely because he has studied and thought deeply about these things, why exclude him? You might think you can join the dots of the puzzle, but perhaps he knows about dots you haven’t even realised were there.

If I am wrong, let there be thinking about it and a discussion

Or maybe when it came to inviting Educate and Celebrate to Trent College, it wasn’t thought to have anything to do with religion. It’s just about be friendly to LGBT+ people. Who can object to that? And the answer of course, is no one. Certainly not me.

But the Christian tradition has plenty of resources to help navigate such conundra as making sure that there is no tolerance for bullying — we’ve all heard of “Love your neighbour as yourself.” How about supporting teenagers as they work out what their identity is, and how they fit into the world. “Made in the image of God,” anyone?

And if something needs adding to this, then, yes, let’s have that discussion. 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. The sign was writ large on that day of staff training. You couldn’t miss it. It said that the Equality Act protected characteristics include “gender,” and “gender identity.” No. They don’t. “Sex,” (you know, that biological thing) is there, and “gender reassignment, (a process of change)” too. If this is just a benign programme, why start with a whopping great lie?

Queer Theory has roots in Marxism and Postmodernism. Why would a Christian chaplain just let that pass?

The answer is that this is not simply about supporting LGBT pupils — even supposing we think that LGB and T belong together (the LGB Alliance and many others don’t). It is about an ideology which wishes to break down society, and remould it into … well, I know not what. It’s about Queer Theory, and disrupting all categories. That’s why the mantra “smash heteronormativity” describes Educate and Celebrate’s work so very well. But as human beings we navigate the world by categories — it means we don’t have to process every piece of sensory input or information separately and afresh. The destruction of categories means mental overload, loss of the ability to make timely decisions, paralysis, and chaos. I’m pretty sure no Christian would support chaos. Nor would any reasonable person. Yes, categories, stereotypes, sometime mislead us, but the way to deal with that is to be alert to them, not to dispense with them altogether.

What’s more, Queer Theory has roots in Marxism and Postmodernism, and is thus a manifestly atheist system. Again, why would a Christian chaplain just let that pass? This is more ably explained by Douglas Murray in The Madness of Crowds than I could ever manage. And of course Queer Theory has its allies across Critical Theory. I certainly feel that this Applied Postmodernism (as Pluckrose and Lindsay style it) is becoming the one ideology to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them.

Maybe I’m wrong about that, but I have certainly felt the baleful stare of the Eye of Foucault (or is it Judith Butler?). If I am wrong, let there be thinking about it and a discussion. That’s what I wanted to encourage in that fateful sermon. After all, I think Christianity has nothing to fear from liberal thought. I think it is a religion of light, of reason, of freedom, and of Truth.

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