High Court to decide whether Christians can foster
Eunice and Owen Johns, a Christian couple from Derby, have been trying to foster for three years. In 2007 Derby City Council withdrew the Johns' application to be foster parents because of their biblical views on marriage and the family.
The Johns 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, when it transpired to the social worker that the John’s had traditional views on the family and homosexuality, which were deemed to contravene the council's equality and diversity policy, their application was withdrawn.
The Johns got in touch with the Christian Legal Centre, 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 on the suitability of foster carers with traditional views on sexual ethics, the adoption panel failed to come to a final decision about the couple's application to be foster carers.
On Monday 1 November 2010 the Johns are going before the High Court (sitting in Nottingham) to ask for clarification on the council's position on the suitability of foster carers who have traditional beliefs regarding sexual ethics. This is a vital case for Christian freedoms. The council has an obligation to respect the Johns' religious beliefs, but also to comply with equality law, which prohibits discrimination because of sexual orientation. The case will decide whether the Johns will be able to foster without compromising their beliefs.
This is the first time that a court has been asked to decide how local authorities should deal with foster carers who have traditional views on sexual ethics. 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 Monday'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.
For further comment please see Andrea's Blog.