Enoch Burke, an Irish schoolteacher, was suspended and put on paid administrative leave for refusing to use a different name and the plural pronoun “they” when referring to a male student confused about his sexual identity.
He was then arrested and jailed for contempt of court when he violated a court order and refused to stay off the secondary school’s campus.
After two days in prison, he told the court that it “could deprive him of his liberty and his dignity but could not deprive him of his integrity and faith in God,” reported RTÉ News, an division of Radio and Television of Ireland (Raidió Teilifís Éireann).
“He said he would never leave Mountjoy Prison if in doing so, he must violate his well-informed conscience and his religious beliefs and deny his God,” the outlet said, adding that “the court had presented to him that he could be a Christian in Mountjoy or a Pagan respecter of transgenderism outside it, and in that case he knew where he belonged.”
Burke teaches German, history, politics and debating at Wilson’s Hospital School, a co-ed boarding school under the Church of Ireland, a province of the Anglican Communion.
The conflict began last May, when Principal Niamh McShane directed Burke to call a boy a girl and use plural pronouns when referring to the male student. Burke asked the principal to withdraw the demand.
In June, Burke attended a service and dinner celebrating the school’s founding in 1761. There, he approached McShane and again asked her to withdraw her mandate.
Wilson’s School began a disciplinary process, telling Burke in August that he was suspended. But the teacher went back to the school, where he sat in an empty classroom during the hours he normally was scheduled to work.
When asked why he was there, Burke repeatedly stated, “I’m here to work.”
On August 29, “the school board of management secured a temporary, ex-parte, High Court order against Mr. Burke preventing him from attending or teaching any classes at the school,” RTÉ News reported.
Burke violated the court order and continued going to his classroom. So he was brought back to court and given time to “contemplate the order.”
He told the court, “Transgenderism is against my Christian belief. It is contrary to the scriptures, contrary to the ethos of the Church of Ireland and of my school.”
The teacher was then arrested by the “gardaí,” the Irish national police service, and sent to Mountjoy Prison.
The judge said he was only concerned about the breach of the court order, not with Burke’s or the school’s position on transgender issues.
RTÉ News reported, “The principal had concerns for the student involved and the entire student body. She said the case was not about his beliefs but about his alleged conduct.”
After two days in prison, Burke was brought back to the court, where he said that “transgenderism was the abuse of children and a breach of the school’s constitutional rights to the free profession and practice of religious beliefs.”
He stated that he had not committed any “gross misconduct,” which is what usually leads to school suspensions and investigations, but should be commended for having “the integrity to obey God, rather than man.”
The judge decided Burke would stay in prison for “at least another week” for refusing to say that he would obey the court order.
A post on Wilson’s Hospital School’s Facebook page from 2019 shows Burke next to a student and a painting of another hero of the faith who stood up for his beliefs about faith and Scripture.
The artwork, which was commissioned by Burke and won a prize for the student who produced it, shows Martin Luther standing before the “Diet of Worms” – an imperial assembly called by Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire.
The painting has Luther’s famous words, in German, “Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders.”
Given the money, power and force behind radical sexual activists, it is probable that many more Christians will have to choose between transgender ideology and the truth: God created humanity male and female in His image, and individuals are born either male or female.
Standing for truth may threaten jobs and bring attacks from others.
When called to do so, may we have the strength and courage to speak truth and say, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”
Related articles and resources:
Christian Teacher Wins $95,000 in Damages Against District That Punished Her for Refusing to Submit to Gender Ideology Policy
Courage in Our Schools: Free Speech is Protected When Teachers Take a Stand
Part I – Navigating Gender Pronouns at School and Work
Part 2 – Required Personal Pronoun Use at School and Work Leads to Crazy-making, Literally
Part 3 – What to Say When Pressured to Use Gender Pronouns
Part 4 – Is it Ever Right to Use Personal Gender Pronouns?
Villanova University Releases Guidelines Pushing Students and Staff to Use ‘Preferred Pronouns’
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