THE High Court, sitting at Nottingham Crown Court, is today being asked to decide whether a local authority – Derby Council – should a allow a Pentecostal Christian couple, who strongly disapprove of homosexuality, to be foster parents.
According to the Christian Legal Centre, which is championing the case of Eunice and Owen Johns, this is the first time that a court has been asked to decide how local authorities should deal withÂ foster carers whoÂ have “traditional views on sexual ethics”.
The CLC says:
The implications are huge. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of Christian foster carers and adoptive parents hangs in the balance, and that the outcome of [today’s] case will have a direct effect on whether Christians decide to apply to be foster carers or adoptive parents. It may not be long before local authorities decide that Christians cannot look after some of the most vulnerable children in our society, simply because they disapprove of homosexuality.
The Johns have been trying to foster for three years. In 2007 Derby City Council withdrew their application to be foster parents because of their Christian, biblical views on marriage and the family. They had applied to be respite carers for children between the ages of 5 and 10, “wanting to offer children a loving and stable home”.
However, said the CLC:
When it transpired to the social worker that the John’s had traditional views on the family and homosexuality, they received a letter which stated that their application had been withdrawn.
The couple got in touch with the CLC, who were able to persuade the council to reinstate the application. However, just a few months later, and after several letters asking the council to clarify their policy onÂ the suitability of foster carers with traditional views on sexual ethics,Â the Council’s adoption panel failed to come to a final decision about the couple’s application to be foster carers, and the matter has now been taken to the High Court
Said the CLC:
This is a vital case for Christian freedoms. The council has an obligation to respect the Johns’ religious beliefs, but also toÂ comply with equality law, which prohibits discriminationÂ because ofÂ sexual orientation. The case will decide whether the Johns will be able to foster without compromising their beliefs.
Meanwhile, senior bishops, according to this report, fear that if the ruling goes against them, it could have have devastating consequences for those with religious beliefs.
In an open letter, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, the Bishop of Winchester Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Chester Rt Rev Peter Forster, and Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester warned that Labour’s equality laws put homosexual rights over those of others:
Even though the Office for National Statistics has subsequently shown homosexuals to be just one in 66 of the population.
This figure, by the way, is highly suspect.
The episcopal clowns wrote:
The High Court is to be asked to rule on whether Christians are â€˜fit people’ to adopt or foster children – or whether they will be excluded, regardless of the needs of children, from doing so because of the requirements of homosexual rights.
Research clearly establishes that children flourish best in a family with both a mother and father in a committed relationship.
The supporters of homosexual rights cannot be allowed to suppress all disagreement or disapproval …
Lord Carey clearly has learned nothing from an earlier attempt to interfere with the course of justice in the UK. Earlier this yearÂ he was castigated by a judge for poking his nose into the case of another Christian bigot, Gary McFarlane, a Christian relationship counsellor who lost his job after refusing to work with gay or lesbian couples, was not a victim of unlawful religious discrimination.
In criticising Carey, Lord Justice Laws made it clear that there can be no justification for different laws for religious believers, stating:
The precepts of any one religion – any belief system – cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other’ and said if they did, then we would be ‘on the way to a theocracy’.
Mrs Johns is quoted as saying:
The council said â€˜Do you know, you would have to tell them [foster kids] that it’s OK to be homosexual?’ Â But I said I couldn’t do that because my Christian beliefs won’t let me. Morally, I couldn’t do that. Spiritually I couldn’t do that.
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay rights charity Stonewall, said:
Too often in fostering cases nowadays it’s forgotten that it is the interests of a child, and not the prejudices of a parent, that matter. Many Christian parents of gay children will be shocked at Mr and Mrs Johns’ views, which are more redolent of the 19th century than the 21st.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn