Gay Christians question evangelical’s employment tribunal

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement has highlighted the employment practices of a development agency whose UK President has taken the Bishop of Liverpool to an employment tribunal.

Dr Elaine Storkey, an academic and contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, claims she was dismissed from her at an Oxford theological college, Wycliffe Hall, because she was “the wrong type of Christian Evangelical.”

The LGCM described the principal of the college, Reverend Richard Turnbull, as an “ultra-conservative fundamentalist evangelical.”

The Reverend Richard Kirker, the highly-respected chief executive of the LGCM, said:

“We first became aware of the crisis at Wycliffe Hall when there were accusations from former staff members and students of homophobic bullying at the college following reports that it had been ‘captured’ by ultra conservative Evangelicals led by Turnbull.

“The Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, as chair of the college’s Council, has supported Turnbull’s unlawful actions and it is good to see him personally held to account in this legal action. He must consider his position both as chair of the council and as a bishop of the Church.”

Revd Kirker said it was “interesting, if not a little paradoxical,” that Dr Storkey is claiming religious discrimination in this case.

Development agency Tearfund, of which she is UK President, only allows evangelical Christians to apply for jobs with them.

“We suspect that Tearfund’s complex and from our point of view unacceptable employment policy, like that of many homophobic “Christian” organisations, has been recently redrafted to find a dubious way around recent legislation making it illegal to discriminate against lesbian and gay people including self-affirming lesbian and gay Christians,” said Revd Kirker.

“In this context it is a policy that may well turn around and bite Dr Storkey herself.

“To be honest – as much as we sympathise with the fact she was undoubtedly bullied and dismissed unnecessarily by some very nasty people – we hope it does!”

On Monday at Reading employment tribunal lawyers for Revd Turnbull admitted that he had acted unlawfully in sacking Dr Storkey and revealed that compensation of some £20,000 had already been paid to her, with similar sums expected to be paid to two others.

The tribunal continues.