“I can be a Christian in Mountjoy Prison or I can be a pagan acceptor of transgenderism outside it.”
That’s a statement from Irish schoolteacher Enoch Burke, jailed for protesting his school’s transgender dictates, the Belfast Telegraph reported.
Burke was imprisoned Monday for contempt of court after continuing to show up on campus following his suspension for refusing to address a male student by a new name and his preferred pronoun, “they.”
A month ago, the board of management of Wilson’s Hospital School in Multyfarnham, County Westmeath, suspended Burke with pay while they worked through a disciplinary process against him.
Wilson’s, a boarding school, is about a hundred miles northwest of Dublin and is affiliated with The Church of Ireland.
Burke is an evangelical Christian, one of 10 homeschooled children, and has repeatedly said his opposition to trangenderism aligns with the teaching of every major church in Ireland.
Wednesday, the school secured continuation of interlocutory orders against Burke. His jailing Monday stemmed from his refusal to stay away from the school for the duration of his suspension.
Burke said he won’t comply, which means he won’t have his contempt charge lifted.
“I will never leave Mountjoy Prison if in leaving that prison I must violate my well-informed conscience and my religious beliefs and deny my God,” Burke said.
Jail time has allowed Burke to review his beliefs and in self-examination determine if he is doing the right or wrong thing, he said.
His conclusion: “I consider it commendable that I chose to obey God rather than man.”
“This court has divested itself of all honor and has been mean, contemptible and base. The tragedy of this case is that by merely stating my opposition to transgenderism, I have paid dearly,” Burke said, adding that the school’s suspension of him “severely damaged my good name, blackened my character and stained my reputation as a teacher.”
The school’s lawyer, Rosemary Mallon, and the judge in the case, Justice Max Barrett, both say the issue is not about transgenderism but about Burke’s conduct.
The situation began in May when Niamh McShane, principal of the school, directed teachers in an email to address a transgender student by a new name and by the pronoun “they.”
“I am shocked that students in this school are forced to accept this position,” Burke responded, according to an affidavit by the school board’s chair, John Rogers.
McShane said “no suggestion of force by or for anyone” was meant but later emailed Burke to say a major philosophy of the school was to be inclusive, with student welfare of great importance.
She said the school could not legally discriminate due to Ireland’s Equal Status Act and that individuals had a right to be called by whatever name they chose and to have their preferred gender recognized, The Belfast Telegraph said.
Burke was said to have argued the issue in a staff meeting. Later, he raised the question in a chapel service and at a dinner following the service, which honored the school’s 260th anniversary, a setting McShane described as inappropriate, Rogers’ affidavit said.
Concerned about how Burke might act in the future, McShane took the matter up with the school’s board of management, which suspended Burke on Aug. 24. However, Burke came to school anyway, sitting each day in a vacant classroom.
A week later, Justice Siobhan Stack intervened with a temporary injunction to keep him away from the school and its students. Burke continued to show up on campus until he was arrested and jailed for contempt of court Monday.
Although Burke can petition the judge for release anytime he recants, he’s to have another court appearance Wednesday. The school also has scheduled a disciplinary meeting that same day, although it’s unclear if it will take place, given Burke’s legal issues.
So what do we make of this? Is Enoch Burke just a troublemaker who refuses to go along with his employer, then engages in illegal trespassing and refusal to comply with a court order attempting to halt him?
And you, too, need to beware if you are a Christian or one attempting to embrace morality or advocate correct science in your life. Burke’s predicament may be coming for you through your employer, too, if it hasn’t already.
Then there’s Burke standing against a court order.
Again — the moral issue. Oft-quoted Romans 13 says Christians are to submit to the law. But what is the function of the law as outlined by that chapter of the Bible? The magistrate is the minister of God bearing the sword to enforce righteousness and punish evil, it says.
Should the magistrate be enforcing the evil of transgenderism and violation of Christian conscience? The magistrate can do it — is doing it — but not under the blessing and authority of God, the absence of which provides a good place for tyranny to take root.
Acase can be made that this whole issue is nothing more that Burke’s refusal to comply with a court order. But the letter of the law kills; the spirit gives life. Burke, as his self-confessed personal examination implies, is not taking this lightly.
Judges may be able to hide behind the language of the law, but courts are required, by the authority they receive from God, to enforce righteousness. And these are not unpaid parking fines we’re talking about.
Burke may be operating contrary to legal procedure, as did others before him — Jesus, Paul, Martin Luther, the American Founders, Martin Luther King Jr. and others. But his ultimate judge is God ,and that seems to be the court to which Burke is appealing.
Sadly, some will read this and because of their own personal biases will only see it as just another hateful Christian blast against trans people. It’s not. It’s a recognition of truth, which is what Burke is doing, by not buying into a boy’s sad perception that he’s something other than what God created him to be.
The correct Christian response is love — but a real love, not squishy sentiment that might feel good for the moment. The response of love is the message that trans people are going down the wrong path and need repentance and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ for personal deliverance and salvation.
Love is about truth and is always aligned with what God says it is.
One more thing. Enoch Burke’s name brings to mind another Irishman of the same surname who became a prominent 18th century British statesman — Edmund Burke. There’s a famous statement that Burke may or may not have said but which is attributed to him:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
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