Brindabella Christian College’s board has fired its principal and told parents that the “the devil has his sights on Christian education” as marriage equality moves closer to becoming law.

Bruce Handley’s firing from the Canberra school comes after parents received a four-page statement in September encouraging them to vote no in the postal survey, The Canberra Times has reported.

Handley’s name appeared at the end of the letter but his wife said he didn’t write it, while some parents took to social media to defend him.

The former principal is now taking the decision to the Fair Work Commission.

“Our reservations in relation to the proposed redefinition of marriage itself and, regardless of what views may be held on that issue, the genuine and very valid concerns we hold about our ongoing ability to continue to teach and model a Christian view of marriage we are, respectfully, asking all those associated with the school community to participate and vote NO in the survey,” the letter stated.

“We ask this in love and out of love.”

Despite this, the letter said that LGBTI members of the school’s community were not “any less loved by God”.

Greg Zwajgenberg, the school board’s chairman, said Christian Education Australia wrote the letter which was later endorsed and sent to parents by Handley.

Parents are said to have removed their children, who had been lectured about same-sex marriage and the postal survey and felt alienated after expressing their disagreement, from the school following the letter’s distribution.

In an extraordinary letter discussing Handley’s termination, Zwajgenberg asked the school’s community to keep it in their prayers.

“There is a perfect storm coming for Christian education in Australia by way of differing views on clarifications with respect to religious freedoms and the devil has his sights set on Christian education through changing legislation and secular attitudes,” the letter stated.

One parent who had left the school told Fairfax they “had hoped that a Christian education would involve actively demonstrating love and support for all members of the community.”

“The letter sent yesterday showed that the chairman of the board feels Christian education is more about alienating outsiders who are viewed as a threat,” they said.

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