Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Christian couple can not write their own job description

A Christian couple have been told they can't force Derby City Council to let them foster children. The conflict arose because the couple in question, Owen and Eunice Johns, felt their faith meant they could not say homosexual lifestyles could be good (1).

This is a good thing, and a bad thing.

It is a good thing because people who shouldn't be able to enforce their personal views on people; they are, effectively, council employees and should adhere to the council's standards. If they can't meet those standards, then they can't do the job.

One of the job requirements was that they did not disparage homosexual lifestyles. It seems they were not able to meet this requirement, went to court to have it overturned, and failed in their bid.

It is worth baring in mind that the Johns were not barred from fostering by the council. They chose to withdraw from the vetting process when how they'd deal with the issue of homosexuality was raised.

It's a bad thing because these people have acted as foster parents for over fifteen years, apparently without a hitch. Now they will not be able to do so, and it isn't like there is a wealth of foster parents.

But I don't blame the council for that. They have to ensure a safe and nurturing environment for all the children in their care; they are ultimately responsible for whatever happens to the vulnerable youngsters it places in foster care.

It's important to remember that they were applying as foster parents, not adopting. They would be dealing with a lot of children staying with them for short periods of time, so they'd be encountering adolescents with questions and troubles that would need to be addressed.

Mr Johs suggests that "Eight-year-olds we have looked after want to play, not talk about their sexuality." Fair enough. but to young people, everything is "gay." Children will ask why they were called gay at school, and if that is a bad thing. Are some people gay? Is that wrong?

My opinion is that it is a great shame they didn't wait to hear the verdict of the panel; and that they seem to have been so intransigent in their beliefs they couldn't mouth some homily about love and respect being the most important part of any lifestyle. Their refusal to do that means they won't be around to help children who need it. Render unto Ceasr, and all that ...

They should have thought a bit more on the 'Judge not' and 'don't cast the first stone' parts of their creed and less on the intermittent homophobia that permeates the OT and the scribblings of St Paul. Jesus, notably, didn't have anything to say about homosexuality, that I can recall.

They could easily have told any curious foster child something bland and neutral like, "Love and respect are the most important part of any lifestyle or relationship." I don't see how that would have compromised their principles, and would have allowed them to continue the good work they've done over years. Instead, they placed their vision of their faith above their Christian desire to help people.
1 - "Christian beliefs DO lose out to gay rights: Judges' ruling against devout foster couple," by Tamara Cohen. Published in The Daily Mail, 1st of March, 2011. (

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