Jailed Christian teacher vows to stay in Irish prison following transgender row

Jailed Christian teacher vows to stay in Irish prison following transgender row

A Christian teacher who was suspended from his school for refusing to use gender-neutral pronouns for a transgender student and was sent to Mountjoy prison for contempt of court, after repeatedly turning up at the school, is vowing to stay in prison.

Enoch Burke, from Ireland, has stated "I will never leave Mountjoy Prison" after being arrested on 5th September 2022, for breaching his court order, which stated that he was not allowed to teach at the Wilson's Hospital School in Westmeath, or to be physically present there.

Mr Burke told the High Court, Wednesday 7th September 2022: "I can be a Christian in Mountjoy Prison or I can be a pagan acceptor of transgenderism outside it."

He went onto say: "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."

"I consider it commendable that I chose to obey God rather than man."

The judge has adjourned the matter to Wednesday 14th September 2022 but said Mr Burke could come back to the court before then if he wished to purge his contempt.

Mr Burke, who represented himself at the hearing, replied: "I would love to obey the court, but I cannot ignore my conscience and my religious beliefs." 

The suspended teacher had previously refused to address a transitioning student as 'they' rather than 'he', which was requested by the student and their parents in May and agreed by the Church of Ireland school.

Mr Burke is one of ten siblings, from evangelical mother, Martina Burke.

The Burkes have previously campaigned and launched protests against the referendum on abortion, and marriage equality.

Some of the family have also been involved in high profile legal cases, including a high court appeal on religious discrimination.

Reported by the Irish Independent, the evangelical family have also protested against gay marriage, and Castlebar's Gay Pride parade.

Mrs Burke also called LGBT+ training for school leaders 'amoral', four years ago, arguing that it would 'stigmatise modesty and inhibitions'.