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World News

Family of Irish Christian teacher stage protest at Church of Ireland Synod

by Kelly Valencia

The family of Enoch Burke has staged a protest at the Church of Ireland's Synod to demand the church's intervention in the Christian teacher's case. 

The History and German teacher has been embroiled in controversy since he refused to use a transgender student's preferred pronouns in 2022, citing his Evangelical Christian beliefs.

As a result, he was dismissed from his position and has been imprisoned twice for violating court orders to stay away from the school. Currently incarcerated in Dublin's Mountjoy Prison with no release in sight, Burke's family contends that he is being persecuted for his Christian beliefs.

On Thursday, the teacher's father was found guilty of assaulting a police officer after his wife was escorted out of the Court of Appeal (CoA). He had previously been convicted of threatening, insulting, and abusive behaviour after Enoch's proceedings on 7th March, 2023, but he consistently denied the charge and has been subsequently cleared on appeal.

Now, Burke's mother and brother have interrupted the Church of Ireland's Synod to protest against his imprisonment.

The Archbishop of Armagh and All Ireland Primate, Most Rev John McDowell and Bishop of Meath and Kildare, Rt Rev Pat Storey, were some of the church leaders in attendance. 

In video footage from the incident, Martina Burke enters the room with a microphone while Bishop Pat is speaking. She directly questions the Archbishop about why Enoch Burke was suspended from Wilson's Hospital School "for upholding the Church of Ireland ethos." 

The Archbishop promptly suspends the Synod's business. Josiah Burke then unfurls a poster of his brother, stating: "Enoch Burke: 354 days in prison."

A Church of Ireland spokesperson said: "Mrs Burke and members of her family entered the meeting of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland in Armagh.

"The business of the General Synod was suspended and resumed 45 minutes later to conclude the report that had been in progress at the time."

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