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A police chaplain in the UK has been forced out of his post after criticising the Government’s plans for same-sex marriage on his personal website, MPs have heard.
Rev Brian Ross said he was summoned to a meeting with a senior officer and told that postings on his blog on the subject of marriage did not fit with the force’s equality and diversity policies, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Campaigners against same-sex marriage say that the case is “just the start of things to come”.
They said it backed up warnings that chaplains in hospitals, prisons and the armed forces as well as teachers and other public servants could be dismissed legally from their jobs if they take what they consider to be a stand on grounds of conscience over the issue.
Ministers have repeatedly insisted that no one should be sacked from their job for voicing opposition to same-sex marriage and have built in special “protections” for clerics into the Government’s Marriage Bill.
But in a written submission to a committee of MPs revising the bill in the House of Commons Rev Ross claimed that his case was “typical of the kind of situation that could, and would, arise” once gay marriage becomes law.
Rev Ross, 68, former Church of Scotland minister and RE teacher from Motherwell, served as a volunteer chaplain to Strathclyde Police for three years after retiring.
He maintains a blog called “CrazyRev” in which he posts Bible verses and his thoughts on current affairs from a traditionalist Christian point of view.
Last year, as the subject of same-sex marriage became a hot topic north and south of the border, he made a series of postings accusing David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Alex Salmond of acting without an electoral mandate by attempting to change what he called the “God-ordained institution of marriage as between a man and a woman”.
But he claims his postings upset senior officers in the force and led to him being stripped of his position.
“This was a role that I enjoyed immensely, and I was extremely active in regular visitation, and in identifying myself with officers and staff,” he explained.
“ I submitted a monthly article to the different divisional bulletins, and attended all of the force, and divisional, events as invited.
“The result of my endeavours was that I gained the trust of those I sought to serve, and was being used by some in pastoral situations.”
He went on: “Just before the summer, a particular senior officer in one of the divisions read my personal blog and objected to my expressed support for traditional marriage as, it was claimed, it went against the force's equality and diversity policies.
“I was summoned to a meeting, the end result of which has been that my services have been dispensed with.
“This, I would emphasise, is before any legislation has been placed on the Statute Book.”
Strathclyde Police said Rev Ross eventually stepped down after being asked to comply with its equality policies but added that were a number of other “concerns” about how he operated.
It is understood that he was also accused of wearing the wrong uniform and visiting people without making arrangements in advance.
"Whilst the force wholly respects the Rev Ross's and, indeed any employees' personally held political and religious beliefs, such views cannot be expressed publicly if representing the force, as it is by law an apolitical organisation with firmly embedded policies which embrace diversity and equality," a spokeswoman said.
She added: “A number of parameters were set which would allow him to remain in position.
“These included adhering to an appropriate dress code and methods of conducting his chaplaincy and finally, compliance with the force's equality and diversity policies.
“However, after consideration, it would appear that the Reverend chose not to continue in his role as a force chaplain."