An Irish secondary school teacher was imprisoned Monday for refusing to obey a court order that went against his Christian beliefs.
Irish broadcasting company RTE reported secondary school teacher Enoch Burke was sent to Mountjoy Prison after Judge Michael Quinn determined he was guilty of contempt of court.
Wilson’s Hospital School in Multyfarnham, County Westmeath, Ireland, placed Burke on paid administrative leave after he refused to refer to a male student with the pronoun “they,” the New York Post reported Tuesday.
At the school’s request, an injunction was issued barring Burke from attempting to teach or being present on school property until the disciplinary process had been completed.
Enoch defied the injunction, according to police, and he was found sitting in an empty classroom at the school last week.
Quinn issued an order to arrest Burke on Friday after determining he had defied the order to stay away from the school. The teacher was arrested Monday and taken to court, and he told the judge he could not in good conscience comply with the injunction.
“I am a teacher and I don’t want to go to prison,” Burke said, according to the Post. “I want to be in my classroom today. That’s where I was this morning when I was arrested.”
He said it was “insanity” for him to be sent to jail for upholding his biblical beliefs.
“Transgenderism is against my Christian belief,” Burke said. “It is contrary to the scriptures, contrary to the ethos of the Church of Ireland and of my school.”
He told the court if he were to comply with the injunction and stay away from the school, he would be admitting to some sort of wrongdoing when he refused to refer to a male student as “they,” RTE reported. Burke said his conscience would not allow him to do so.
“I love my school, with its motto Res Non Verba, ‘Actions not words,’ but I am here today because I said I would not call a boy a girl,” he told the court, according to the Post.
Barrister Rosemary Mallon said the school initially notified Burke of his leave on Aug. 24, but he continued to come to work as normal. Eventually, she decided the school had to seek an injunction in order to keep him out of the classroom.
Burke, meanwhile, said he only continued to show up at the school because he wanted to keep teaching his students. He did not want to go to prison, but he said he could not comply with an order he felt was issued unjustly.
This case is a concerning reminder of what can happen when religious freedoms are taken away. Burke simply followed his Christian beliefs when he refused to use the “they” pronoun for a male, and he did not deserve to be punished for it.
As Burke said, quietly complying with the school’s decision to put him on leave would in many ways be akin to admitting the school had a reason to do so. Instead, he tried to keep doing his job without being disruptive.
While Americans ought to be safe from such treatment because of the religious freedoms we are guaranteed in the Constitution, the left would like nothing more than to ensure teachers in this country are ousted if they refuse to go along with its radical agenda.
As evidence, one only has to look as far as the Loudon County Public School system in Virginia, which placed teacher Tanner Cross on administrative leave last year after he refused to use pronouns that were contradictory to a student’s sex.
The good news in that case was the Virginia Supreme Court ruled Cross should be reinstated because the school violated his free speech. But if the left had its way, Cross never would be allowed to return to teaching.
If these cases teach us anything, it is that religious freedom is coming under attack, and it’s as important as ever to protect it.
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