Sandy minister ‘preached hate and bigotry’ in prison for sex offenders

Delays continue following the serious collision
Delays continue following the serious collision

A Christian prison worker was forced to resign because he offended sex attackers by reciting verse from the Bible deemed to be homophobic, a tribunal heard.

Reverend Barry Trayhorn, 51, was accused of preaching homophobic hate during pentecostal prison services.

Several inmates at HMP Littlehey, nr Huntingdon, Cambs., - where 80 per cent of prisoners are sex offenders - complained about Rev Trayhorn’s services.

In one sermon, the father-of-three, who was a volunteer chaplain at the prison for six years, directly quoted a verse from 1 Corinthians, chapter 6.

He said: “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of god.”

In a statement read to Rev Trayhorn’s employment tribunal in Bedford on Tuesday, an inmate referred to as prisoner 3 said: “I was at the chapel on Saturday and I was disgusted by what I heard.

“He was preaching hate and intolerance towards prostitutes and homosexuals.

“Then he started goading the congregation, saying go on, put your complaints in.

“I almost wanted to cry.”

Rev Trayhorn denies targeting homosexuals and prostitutes in the prison service on May 31 last year, and stated he was simply reading for the Bible, using himself as the biggest example of a sinner.

In his witness statement, Rev Trayhorn told the tribunal panel: “After I had finished explaining the verses I said words to the effect of ‘you may want to complain about this but this is the word of God, God loves you and wants to forgive you.

“I simply said what the Bible says.

“Prisoners have a right to hear God’s word, just as much as anyone else.

“If people come to a Christian chapel service, we cannot keep God’s message from them.”

Rev Trayhorn also said that a prisoner told him that homosexual prisoners had started a campaign to remove him from chapel services.

The prison had previously barred Rev Trayhorn from preaching at chapel services following a previous complaint about him using homophobic language.

Rev Trayhorn heard there had been a complaint about a remark he had allegedly made at a service in February about same-sex marriage, but could not recall it.

In April last year he was told not to preach again because he had not completed anti-terrorist paperwork required for clearance to work as a chaplain.

The tribunal at Bedford Employment Tribunal Centre on Tuesday heard that after three separate complaints from prisoners Rev Trayhorn was banned from all chapel activities.

Rev Trayhorn resigned from the prison in November last year after suffering from illness and a nervous breakdown.

He believes that he was discriminated against due to his Christian beliefs.

Rev Trayhorn said in his witness statement: “I did not feel I had done anything wrong, all I had said in the chapel was from the Bible. I believed the Bible was God’s word and I could not violate God’s command.

“The choice I was given was simply between following my Christian beliefs and keeping my job.

Rev Trayhorn, who is represented by human rights lawyer Paul Diamond and the Christian Legal Centre, is accusing the Prison Service of constructive dismissal and claiming compensation.

He claims an unfair and aggressive disciplinary process which provoked his resignation.

The Country and Western singer, who has played in clubs for years, started work supervising prisoners in the jail’s gardens in 2011.

He then began helping out with music in the chapel and preached formal sermons at some servies.

Andrea Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Mr Trayhorn’s words were nothing that couldn’t be found in a rural parish church on a Sunday morning and were an explanation of repentance and forgiveness.

“Is the Bible given to prisoners now to be censored to remove anything that people may find difficult to hear?”

The tribunal is expected to continue for the rest of this week.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman declined to comment while the tribunal is ongoing.