Two Church of England diocesan bishops and two retired Church of England bishops have written to the Telegraph Councils should not discriminate against Christian carers. The full text of the letter is reproduced below the fold.
Jonathan Wynne-Jones had earlier reported the letter in the Telegraph news columns, Christians’ freedom to express beliefs is at risk, warn bishops.
This case has been running for a while. Rachel Harden reported on it for the Church Times in February 2008, see ‘Unsuitable’ foster-parents to appeal.
It may be helpful, as suggested in the Comments below, to provide a link to the earlier McFarlane case in which Lord Carey intervened. The full text of the main judgement was linked from here.
The full text of Lord Carey’s own witness statement was published by Ruth Gledhill on her blog, but is no longer available; however comment on it from the Church Times is still available here. Update Now available in .doc format here.
31 Oct 2010
SIR – On Monday the High Court is to be asked to rule on whether Christians are “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.
The case involves Derby City Council and Eunice and Owen Johns, both highly experienced foster carers, but whose traditional Christian views have left them penalised under legislation enacted by the former government in the name of equality.
This “equality”, however, privileges 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.
In January 2007, the Johnses applied to Derby City Council to be respite carers for a single child aged five to 10 years old. However, in August 2007, their orthodox Christian views on the practice of homosexuality and their commitment to attending church with their children came to the notice of a social worker.
As a result, they were withdrawn from the process and deemed “unsuitable” to foster through the council.
The Johnses believe that the desperate shortage of foster carers, and the need for people like them to offer short-term respite care for parents in need of a rest, mean that denying Christians the opportunity to be carers will deeply affect children’s welfare.
The Johnses are a loving Christian couple, who have in the past, and would in the future, give a stable home to a vulnerable child.
Research clearly establishes that children flourish best in a family with both a mother and father in a committed relationship.
A commitment to respecting conscience is the essence of civil liberty. The supporters of homosexual rights cannot be allowed to suppress all disagreement or disapproval and “coerce silence”.
There is a “clash of rights”, which the court must settle. If the court believes that those with traditional Christian views on homosexuality can be discriminated against, the state has taken a position on a moral question, namely that such religious belief is problematic.
However, despite the Sexual Orientation Regulations and the Equality Act, the courts are still able to establish jurisprudence.
We trust and pray that common sense and justice will be done.
Lord Carey of Clifton Former Archbishop of Canterbury
Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt Bishop of Winchester
Rt Revd Peter Forster Bishop of Chester
Rt Revd Michael Nazir-Ali Former Bishop of Rochester