Thursday, 3 March 2011

foster care case: Evangelical Alliance speaks out

The Evangelical Alliance has issued a press statement: Response to Derby City Council Fostering Case.

It is not true that Christians are being prevented from fostering and adopting children in spite of increasing evidence that they are being marginalised in public life, says the Evangelical Alliance…

…While the outcome is unhelpful for Christians and other religious believers with orthodox beliefs, it is unlikely that the case will carry any major landmark implications.

It is highly questionable whether British courts of law should be used as forums for debating the pros and cons of conflicting human rights created by equalities legislation. Instead, they should only be used to resolve disputed points of law based on evidence.

The Evangelical Alliance expresses doubt about the wisdom in bringing such cases to the High Court in the first place. While there is no doubt that equality laws appear increasingly controversial in the way they seem to disproportionately impact against Christians, there is a clear need for a more cautious and strategic approach when deciding to take matters to court…

Andrew Brown comments on this at Evangelicals reverse the ferret.

The Evangelical Alliance has disowned the tactics of the Christian Legal Centre, the fringe group which brought a case against Derby Council on behalf of a Pentecostal couple who feared that their views on gay people would prevent them from fostering children.

The Evangelical Alliance’s statement stands in sharp contrast to the hysterical coverage in some right-wing papers. Many reported without question the claims of the CLC that the ruling meant that orthodox christian views were now enough to bar anyone from fostering children…

The position taken by the EA is very clear. Less clear but also interesting was the distancing from the CLC that the Christian Institute took in its full statement earlier:

The Johns’ case was supported by The Christian Legal Centre, an entirely separate organisation to The Christian Institute.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 10:14am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

"The Evangelical Alliance has disowned the tactics of the Christian Legal Centre, the fringe group which brought a case against Derby Council on behalf of a Pentecostal couple who feared that their views on gay people would prevent them from fostering children."

What hope is there, if even Andrew Brown can't get it right?

This was a case of Derby Council and the couple jointly seeking legal guidance.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 10:59am GMT

Do I hear a penny dropping ?

Better than all those pennies spent in vain ...

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 11:12am GMT

Even the EA would love to participate in the orgy of "O-vey O-vey" and "Woe is me" but realizes that such self-indulgence is back-firing, already.

It comes to something when the EA and the CI don't wish to look silly --or back another loser !

The Christian Legal Centre is preposterous.

The EA cautions a more 'strategic' approach - I geddit.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 11:16am GMT

'There may also be risks that Christians will be viewed as deliberately engineering conflicts with the courts or pleading privileged treatment.'

I would have thought that it was unlikely that I would commend something said by the EA but their response seems to be more nuanced and understanding than that trumpeted by Melanie Philips, The Daily Telegraph and a host of generally Evangelical organisations. They are also to be congratulated on their awareness of the cumulative effect of the case heard over the past year or two and the special pleading of George Carey. I would hope that their words of caution are heeded.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 1:36pm GMT

I suspect the distancing of the CI from the CLC is due to the opening paragraph of this article from Andrew Brown ...

Posted by: Andy on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 7:23pm GMT

Having read the Evangelical Alliance statement, I think they have clearly indicated that the anti-gay activists who encouraged the couple to get a specific declaration of their suitability as foster-parents - despite their anti-gay stance - have overstated their activist agenda.

However, the Christian Institute seems to be still insisting on special treatment for the *Christian* view-point in public affairs, when the reality is that the UK is not a theocratic state. This is also the view of certain Church bishops - like Carey and Nazir-Ali - who seem oblivious of the need to accommodate the various religious and secular views held by assorted multi-cultural elements in the population.

The Church of England does not gain any kudos from such protestations - especially in a time when people are questioning the relationship between the Church and the State, believing that there ought to be a more even-handed treatment of all religious and secular points of view.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 3 March 2011 at 9:17pm GMT

This is actually not the first time that the Evangelical Alliance has taken a balanced and sensible stance but it is refreshing nonetheless.

I think EA has put some effort into thinking and I do stress the word **thinking** through some of these issues. The fact they avoid a knee jerk approach can be helpful in a time of generalised hysteria and the desire to sow divisions between people.

It is also clear that EA read the judgment, which again helps.

Surely we have now come to an end of such cases and can just get on with the - not always easy - task of getting on with one another and ironing out our differences in a sensible and non-hysterical way.

I don't think the culture wars are right for the UK, though I am sure they are good for the US. I would hope that our heritage can help us avoid such divisiveness. Am I hoping for too much?

Maybe it is too much to ask but at least EA are willing to be sensible so maybe it's not impossible. I woulld like to hope that the Established Church can also help in that process......

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Friday, 4 March 2011 at 5:42pm GMT
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