NT is accused of ‘intolerance’ by the Christian Institute

NT is accused of ‘intolerance’ by the Christian Institute

The National Trust, a charity established to take care of British heritage sites, has been accused by the Christian Institute of ‘intolerance’ for ‘punishing’ a group of volunteers who baulked at wearing LGBT badges or lanyards.

According to the Trust’s website:

Many of our places were home to, and shaped by, people who challenged conventional ideas of gender and sexuality. Fifty years after the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, we’re exploring our LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer) heritage with a programme called Prejudice and Pride. We’ll be holding events, special exhibitions and much more.

However, not all of the Trust’s volunteers are on board with the initiative.

The CT reports that around ten helpers at Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk have declined to wear a LGBT lanyard or badge – and so therefore cannot be on duty in “a visitor-facing role”.

It pointed out that last month the National Trust was criticised for “outing” the late owner of Felbrigg as gay. Norfolk squire Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer, above, who died in 1969, left his Jacobean ancestral home, Felbrigg Hall to the nation after his brother died, and he knew he would have no heirs.

Although close friends were aware that Mr Wyndham Ketton-Cremer was gay, he did not choose to publicly disclose his sexual orientation, living largely in a time where it was still outlawed.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the NT commissioned a film, narrated by Stephen Fry, which divulges his private life.

Ella Akinlade, the General Manager of Felbrigg Hall, called for staff and volunteers to wear the emblems:

As this is an internationally recognised symbol of inclusivity. We respect people’s decisions to opt out of wearing the lanyard. If this is the case please come and talk with us and during this period we will ask you not to be on duty in a visitor-facing role.

She added:

By wearing the lanyard we are sending a clear message of welcome to all of our visitors.

A National Trust team pictured at Birmingham Pride 2017

Mike Holmes, who has helped at Felbrigg Hall for 13 years, said he is a great advocate for the Hall but now faces a backlash for his views.

There’s a group of about 10 of us that have volunteered for more than 10 years, and we’ve now been told that if we don’t toe the line, we can’t do our jobs. People are getting ill over this, they’re losing sleep because they’re missing out on a big part of their daily lives and doing something they love so much.

Simon Calvert, Deputy Director at The Christian Institute, said he thought the move was:

The very opposite of tolerance and diversity.

Describing the move as “wrong and counter-productive”, he said:

It’s saying ‘you’re not welcome’ to Christians, Muslims, Jews and anyone who embraces mainstream, traditional morality.

Update: The NT has reversed its restriction on volunteers.

We are aware that some volunteers had conflicting personal opinions about wearing the rainbow lanyards and badges. That was never our intention. We are therefore making it clear to volunteers that the wearing of the badge is optional and a personal decision.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

13 responses to “NT is accused of ‘intolerance’ by the Christian Institute”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    ‘Mainstream, traditional morality’ is what results in child abuse, discrimination and the subjugation of women. It is hardly some kind of exemplar.

  2. Daz says:

    An appeal to “mainstream, traditional morality” is naught but an attempt to impose a tyranny of the majority.

  3. Alan Crowe says:

    I see the national trust have capitulated,spineless twats.
    That’s them of my list of charities worth supporting.

  4. Angela_K says:

    As much as I deplore the “chip on both shoulders”christians, the NT could have handled this better by stating the wearing of “Pride” badges was voluntary from the beginning.

  5. StephenJP says:

    Why on earth are the Christian Institute shoving their dicks into this issue? This is nothing to do with opposition to “mainstream, traditional morality”, whatever that may be. The NT, in a fit of the arrogance that seems to be their main characteristic these days, decided to out the former owner of Felbrigg Hall, without consulting his family (and against their wishes), and indeed without much concrete evidence that he actually was gay. They then tried to force the volunteers to wear rainbow badges even though many of the latter genuinely felt this gesture was inappropriate.

    At least the NT eventually realised they were wrong. The Christian Institute are incorrigible.

  6. remigius says:

    I totally agree StephenJP. This is what comes of getting a story from a dubious source – in this case the Christian Institute. They have turned an issue about the unethical disclosure of private information into a moral issue about religion.

    The quote they use by Mike Holmes is taken entirely out of context – thereby suggesting that he is somehow against homosexuality, when in fact he is against a marketing campaign that disrespects the privacy of benefactors.

    The full quote from Mike Holmes reads as…

    “Wymondham-Cremer would’ve turned in his grave to know what’s happening. He was an intensely private man, he was never open about his sexuality.

    “The National Trust looks after grounds and buildings, they do not have the right to research their benefactor’s private lives to suit the needs of a marketing campaign. It’s abhorrent.”

    Mr Holmes, 72, continued: “This is not about the squire’s sexuality, I am not homophobic and that’s not what this is about,

    “I have volunteered for 13 years at Felbrigg, I love it and I think nobody could say the volunteers aren’t the greatest advocates for the place.

    “There’s a group of about 10 of us that have volunteered for more than 10 years, and we’ve now been told that if we don’t toe the line, we can’t do our jobs.

    “People are getting ill over this, they’re losing sleep because they’re missing out on a big part of their daily lives and doing something they love so much.”

    The CI report only uses the last two sentences.

    It is very clear that the volunteers are not against homosexuality, they are against using private personal information in a marketing campaign.

  7. Laura Roberts says:

    Fortunately for all of us, mainstream morality is not traditional. Traditionally, mixed-race couples were considered immoral. Traditionally, owning slaves was considered normal. Traditionally, performing genital mutilation on children was considered moral (and, tragically, is still an ongoing debate).

    However, I agree that the NT should have made the buttons and lanyards voluntary. Among other things, it allows the public to see which volunteers have common decency and which ones are religious degenerates.

  8. Paul says:

    I must say I don’t understand what it is the NT is doing. The resulting mess isn’t helpful.
    What is helpful is the full quote of Mr Holmes from Remiguis. Thanks

  9. 1859 says:

    Forcing – or gently coercing – people to do something they are uncomfortable with, is mistaken. No matter how wrong or misguided we think others’ opinions are, they have a right to hold them. We may not be able to convince all christians, all muslims and all jews to accept gay people, but I suspect there are many in these religious communities who have a great deal of sympathy with the gay cause, but who abstain from being vocal about it. And it is these people we need – not by forcing them to display Gay Pride symbols. As Angel-K has already said the NT should have made this a voluntary thing at the start – it would have avoided a harmful, unnecessary spat.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Our old friend Paul Dacre has been running this story in the Daily Mail for several days now, culminating in a front page headline (I kid thee not) on Saturday:


    He was claiming that “up to 50” volunteers were in revolt, which I suppose was technically true, as the number appears to be ten! Also, as others have pointed out, this story has nothing to do with “Christian persecution”, as he has been claiming, as their reasons were as stated above, and we are only talking about a local dispute at one property in Norfolk. Still, never let the facts get in the way of a good story!

  11. Laura Roberts says:

    @1859: good point about people who are shy about showing support, as they are indeed the most likely new allies.

  12. andym says:

    The issue being promoted, was to me, irrelevant;it was wrong to force people to display support for a cause, whatever that cause. All they succeeded in doing was providing ammo for such despicable organisations. At least they saw sense in the end.