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Evangelist investigated for potential hate crime after misgendering trans priest and claiming being trans is a ‘false ideology’

Patrick Kelleher December 3, 2020
Alex Clare-Young and Ben John

Transgender priest Alex Clare-Young (L) reported Ben John's (R) video to police (YouTube)

A transgender minister who was misgendered by an evangelist after appearing in a Church of England video has reported the incident to police.

Reverend Alex Clare-Young, a trans man, is a minister in the United Reformed church. He recently appeared in a video for the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith – a suite of resources on LGBT+ issues released as a prelude to a wider conversation.

Following the video’s release, the evangelical pressure group Christian Concern uploaded a response fronted by Ben John, who said it was “interesting” that the Living in Love and Faith video began with a trans person.

“Now of course we can’t act that surprised about this,” he added.

“The Church of England have already endorsed the transgender ideology and they’ve already said they welcome and affirm [trans people], they ordain transgender people, but have we ever really stopped to think whether they should be doing this?”

John is a development officer at the Wilberforce Academy, a one-week residential programme for the “next generation of Christian leaders in public life”. He referred to Clare-Young his wife Jo, who is also a minster and appears with him in the video.

“Because in reality, if [being trans] is a false ideology – which it is – then what we’re actually seeing here is a lesbian couple,” he said.

“So whilst the Church of England might say, we haven’t changed the doctrine of marriage yet, we have changed the practice, and perhaps there needs to be more thought put into that.

“Not only that, they were both clergy. These weren’t laypeople, these were leaders in the church. Should we be ordaining transgender people? Is this the message we want to be sending out to the world?”

John went on to say that Clare-Young “isn’t really a man”, misgendering and using the wrong pronouns to identify him.

In the original video, Clare-Young says: “I do expect people to respect me but I don’t expect people to know what to do with me. Some people might never have met a trans person before.”

Alex Clare-Young transgender priest
Alex Clare-Young (R) and his wife Jo. (YouTube)

He has reported John’s video to police in North Yorkshire and the force is treating the complaint as a possible hate crime, The Times reported.

“I’m not trying to exclude people who identify as conservative evangelicals with a traditional view of scripture,” Clare-Young told the newspaper.

“I don’t want anyone to be excluded, but neither do I want anyone to exclude me.

“I felt that [his comments] were leading to personal harm to myself, my wife, and the others in the video.

“It feels as if he is denying LGBT people the right to be involved in Christian worship. It describes me and my wife as being in a same-sex marriage, which isn’t true. It made me feel very unsafe.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, defended the video, saying: “Everyone should simply watch the video. There is nothing abusive about the video we released relating to Living in Love and Faith.

“Our motivation is always one of love for God and for people. The video does not contain personal attacks and simply calls on the Church of England to uphold its biblical understanding of sex and gender.”

Williams went on to criticise “revisionists in the church”, saying some were trying to “silence people in the debate”.

“Anyone who genuinely seeks to uphold traditional biblical teaching, no matter how gently it is put is castigated by slur and name-calling,” she said.

“The interest appears not to be in engaging in genuine biblical reflection, but rather in using this as a tool for getting their own way.”

PinkNews has contacted Christian Concern and Ben John for comment.

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