Bishops slam equality laws in foster carer ban case
“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.”
11/ 2/2010 UK (The Christian Institute) – Labour’s controversial equality laws shouldn’t be used to silence people who disagree with homosexual conduct, a group of senior bishops has warned.
The stark warning came as a Christian couple, Eunice and Owen Johns, appeared in the High Court arguing that their traditional Christian beliefs on sexual ethics had led to them being barred from fostering.
The Johns are seeking clarification on Labour’s Sexual Orientation Regulations and Equality Act to establish if their faith excludes them from fostering.
The couple are being represented by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), a group which campaigns for religious liberty.
In a letter supporting the couple, four bishops, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, warned that those morally opposed to homosexual conduct should be free to hold their beliefs.
The bishops cautioned: “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’.”
They added: “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.”
Mr and Mrs Johns, who have previously fostered 15 children, applied to become respite care foster workers for children aged between five and ten in 2007.
However, the couple agreed to withdraw their application after a social worker raised concerns about their Christian beliefs regarding homosexuality.
Describing the situation Mrs Johns said: “The council said: ‘Do you know, you would have to tell them that it’s OK to be homosexual?’”.
“But I said I couldn’t do that because my Christian beliefs won’t let me. Morally, I couldn’t do that. Spiritually, I couldn’t do that.”
Speaking in Court yesterday Paul Diamond, who is representing the Johns, said: “The promotion of values is something that the court should be protecting”.