Tuesday, 1 March 2011

More media coverage of the foster care case

Updated again Wednesday afternoon

Stephen Bates reports for the Guardian Anti-gay Christian couple lose foster care case

John Aston and Jan Colley, PA via Independent Anti-gay Christian couple lose battle to become foster parents

The Telegraph has huge coverage, including this Leader Foster parents defeated by the new Inquisition

Tim Ross
Foster parent ban: ‘no place’ in the law for Christianity, High Court rules and
Foster parent ban: ‘extreme distress’ of ‘anti-gay’ Christians’ over ruling

and the following additional articles:
Foster parent ban: ‘this is a secular state’, say High Court judges
Foster parent ban: ‘we have not received justice’

Fostering row commentary: would-be parents must be non-judgmental

Foster parent ban: Lord Justice Munby ‘avid supporter of open justice’

Foster parent ban: Mr Justice Beatson ‘UK’s best academic lawyer’


Peter Ould has written Breaking - Christians with Traditional Moral Views can still be Foster Parents

Cranmer has written “…the laws and usages of the realm do not include Christianity, in whatever form”

Ekklesia has written Court rejects foster couple ‘Christian discrimination’ claim and Misleading claims about discrimination against Christians

The Christian Institute has published Christian Institute responds to foster carer court case and there is a fuller statement available as a PDF over here in which the Christian Institute is at pains to note that it is a completely separate organisation from the Christian Legal Centre.

Ruth Gledhill has posted a video on UTube which contains comments from Eunice and Owen Johns and also from Andrea Minichiello Williams of the Christian Legal Centre. See it here.

Symon Hill has written at Left Foot forward Lazy journalism surrounds the latest foster parents furore

Melanie Phillips has written for the Spectator The judges’ atheist inquisition

The UK Human Rights Blog has an analysis by Rosalind English Analysis: the place of religion in foster care decisions

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 1 March 2011 at 7:55am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

This all seems a bit silly and pointless. Philip Larkin probably basically had it about right when it comes to parents ("they may not mean to but they do," etc.), but generations of us have somehow managed to grow up tolerating our parents' archaic prejudices, and are not (much) the worse for it. Some of us even still manage to love our parents occasionally, despite their manifold and glaring human imperfections.

It's hard to see who benefits from this verdict. Why, after all, should the law prescribe such imposing moral standards on those wishing to care for other people's children, when literally any old fool can go and acquire one of their own by the old time-honoured method? And whatever else can be said about the Johns family, at least they are obeying Larkin's golden rule: "Get out as early as you can/ And don't have any kids yourself."

Posted by: rjb on Tuesday, 1 March 2011 at 10:28am GMT

The Telegraph's coverage is disgraceful. Surprise. In particular, the last one seems to flirt with anti-Semitism. There are conservatives/traditionalists with whom - because they are fundamentally decent - we should strive at all costs to maintain communion. Then there are the other sort - whom we should fight, fight, fight.

Posted by: John on Tuesday, 1 March 2011 at 6:42pm GMT

rjb - there WAS no judgement.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Tuesday, 1 March 2011 at 8:19pm GMT

This ruling, recently upheld by a High Court Judge in the British Courts, delineates the difference between what might be permissable in a theocratic state, whose laws uphold the tenets of a particular faith system; and what is both permissible and desirable in the U.K., which is not a theocratic state – even though the Church of England still has ties with the British Crown.

This ruling has caused ructions within the more evangelical sodality in the UK, who would like to have their mores imposed on all citizens there – whatever their ethnic or religious constituency might be.

Natural justice demands that ALL citizens be treated equally within the law, especially when any Government Agency – such as the Adoption Council – is involved in providing payment to would-be foster parents – to look after children within its care.

Despite ex-Archbishop George Carey’s recent protests against what he calls the secularisation of the UK by government initiatives (such as this might be seen to be) – Christians need to acknowledge that Britain is now a multi-cultural country, which has the responsibility of catering for each and every culture existing within its borders.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 1 March 2011 at 10:46pm GMT

To repeat Laurence's point: there was no ruling.

The court declined to make a ruling.

The couple concerned have not been banned from fostering.

It's hard to hang on to facts amongst all the media hysteria, but the judges' statement concludes: “For the reasons given we have concluded that we should make no order.”

Posted by: Stuart on Wednesday, 2 March 2011 at 7:10am GMT

Excellent article by Peter Ould.

I too was somewhat taken-aback almost ten years ago hearing (in parliamentary debates) and reading government ministers talking of our secular democracy.

Perhaps that has been the mantra for much longer but I had not been attentive.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 2 March 2011 at 9:09am GMT

They say 'secular' to distance themselves from the crazy, nasty, extreme views expressed by 'churchmen', particularly on a variety of sex related issues. They often manage to be insulting or condescending to citizens who are minding their own business, from couples who family plan (RCC);
the sex lives & loves of people who happen not to be married (RCC; Christian Institute, Evangelical
Alliance;lesbian & gay individuals & couples (RCC; CofE; etc); civil partners (CofE;RCC); women seeking termination of pregnancy (RCC).

Also, people who think for themselves conscientiously & creatively within the Churches and in society generally (CofE; RCC etc).

This list is far from exhaustive.

So who would not find a word a useful signifier,
that says I'm not one of those extremists.
I do not even find them at all creative or helpful on religious and spiritual themes. Often tired old language, tired old images, and spiritual and intellectual culs-de-sac.

The Church leaders for the most part offer very little even to church-goers, let alone the wider public.

So yes, I do think of myself as a secularist as I have found again and again the Churches, the bishops, just cannot be trusted. I find their dishonesty shocking.
And at the helm one might say, one Rowan Williams who I heard with my own ears give the Michael Harding Memorial Address, and later speak to The Consultation for (then) gay ministers, at the Royal Foundation of St Katherine. He was very pro-gay - his lecture The Body's Grace is in print for all to read- and now he is anti-gay --worse than Carey - and that is a matter of public record too. Did he really think no-one would notice ?

It grieves me to think the Churches may not have a future.

Give me Don Cuppitt, Jeanette Winterson & Thich Nhat Hanh any day

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 2 March 2011 at 12:59pm GMT

I think we should allow for the possibility that Rowan Williams has actually changed his mind totally and utterly. to me, that is the only thing which makes sense of his position and statements.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Wednesday, 2 March 2011 at 6:36pm GMT

Here's one person hoping that Archbishop Rowan Williams has not changed his mind on the LGBT issue - he may be simply biding his time, awaiting the opportunity for a new, vibrant, living Communion to arise up out of the ashes of the old conservative, Victorian, one.

WE sometimes fail to see the need for a cautious approach for any Church Leader to bring good out of the not-so-good, by awaiting the right time for a cogent renewal of the Church's attitudes towards matters of biblical hermeneutics, and gender and sexuality. After ell, it has taken decades for the Church of England to 'allow' its clergy to avail themselves of Civil Partnerships (though without, as yet, allowing blessings of the same). This would never have happened under Abp. Carey, whose influence was more pro-active in the Church - but in the wrong direction.

I think we need to give Rowa a break. His personal integrity would not allow him a sea-change on his private atittude towards gay relationshisp. BUT, he is notionally 'in charge' of developments with the C.of E., and also responsible for links with the rest of the Communion Churches - some of which are not ready for the changes we would like, but are still, at this time, connected within the Communion.

Things could change very rapidly, for instance, if the GAFCON Churches were to decide to 'go it alone'. This could leave the way clear for the rest of us to find some mechanism of remaining together in the Communion; maybe agreeing to disagree on certain initiatives (like the imposition of the Covenant), but still valuing our corporate membership in the Body of Christ.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 2 March 2011 at 11:54pm GMT

They say about holocaust topics, who cares about them except Jews and old Nazis. And not without some brutal germ of truth in saying it.

The same with this topic. Who cares about this, except gays, and extreme far-right Christians?

The general population is not talking about it in line-ups for their cappucinos.

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 3:50am GMT

Comment on Rosemary's: Then it would be honest to say so: I have utterly and competely changed my mind on what I wrote in The Body's Grace for the following reasons.....

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 6:22am GMT

Anne Atkins also implied that there had been a judgement on this morning's Thought for the Day, saying that the couple had been denied the right to adopt.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 8:09am GMT

And for an hilarious parody of what Atkins said, go here:


Posted by: Laurence C. on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 9:13am GMT

Reading through the Peter Ould article, I find that the following paragraph, from his assessment of the reports about the court case on the suitability of anti-gay foster-carers, to be in line with the reality: that Christians need to 'obey Caesar' when to do so is clearly for the ultimate harmony of the community. Here is the paragraph:

"One consequence of this (ruling)is that Christians need to grow up and realise (a) that they no longer live in a country which gives the Christian faith a pre-eminent position in the jurisprudence of the land (the judgement in para 30 recognises that this has been the case for at least a century) and that therefore (b) there is an obligation, as Jesus instructs us, to render unto Caesar things that belong to Caesar".

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 9:14am GMT

Comment on Rosemary's: Then it would be honest to say so: I have utterly and competely changed my mind on what I wrote in The Body's Grace for the following reasons.....

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 6:22am

Yes, and an apology. By God, he's got some explaining to do.

And even if he now recants (makes me think of his illustrious predecesor who recanted X 2), it does not mean the rest of us have to. Those who didnt hear it, may still read it (obtainable from LGCM) and decide for themselves.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 11:23am GMT

Fr Ron
"After ell, it has taken decades for the Church of England to 'allow' its clergy to avail themselves of Civil Partnerships"

The Civil Partnership Act dates back to 2005 and clergy were immediatley permitted to enter into a civil partnership, provided their relationship remained celibate.

That's grudgingly making sure you don't break the law without conceding any ground.
I don't see anything remotely positive in it.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 1:19pm GMT

Father Ron

Since when should Christians render children to Ceasar, surely Jesus was referring to taxes.

After all Caesar would have us worship him rather than worship Jesus. At some point the antichrist will inspire those in authority, but we are asked as Christians to stand firm to the end. It is to Jesus we must bow our knee not Caesar.

Posted by: David Wilson on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 1:44pm GMT

"It is to Jesus we must bow our knee not Caesar." David Wilson

Which is all well and good in the private sphere - you can bow all you like and no-one can, nor wishes to, stop you.

One more time : the law does not give special privileges to citizens who choose to have a Christian or any other faith. It really isn't a difficult principle to grasp.

Posted by: Laurence C. on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 4:03pm GMT

He set a child in their midst.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 6:53pm GMT

@ David Wilson

And here I thought the anti-christ had come and gone. At least, the Southern Baptists believed Abraham Lincoln was the antichrist because he opposed slavery, while they were convinced the bible endorsed it.

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 9:11pm GMT

David Wilson: Certain religious leaders used to offer children to Moloch. That's not what I'm proposing. What I'm asking for is that foster-parents (care-givers) do not impose their own religous bigotry on the children they are meant to care for. The primary charism needed for the proper care of children is loving concern - not bigoted pseudo-guidance.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 9:27pm GMT

You're not following the very Scripture you claim to, David Wilson.

And. . .

You're dissembling. The question isn't whether to "offer" children to anyone, but whether the government has a right to protect children from foster parents who might damage them. The ones demanding sacrifice of children are the religious conservatives.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 4 March 2011 at 5:02am GMT

@ David Wilson
". . . surely Jesus was referring to taxes."

That's an interesting (and to my mind entirely erroneous, restricted and untenable) way of looking at it.

If "things that are Caesar's" are merely taxes, what are the "things that are God's"?

I'm no Biblical scholar, but I feel that such an interpretation would not be acceptable from a child in Sunday School.

Or perhaps (as an organist) I've been reading my Sunday paper through too many sermons.

Posted by: John Roch on Friday, 4 March 2011 at 5:49pm GMT
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