07/07/2021 United Kingdom (International Christian Concern) – Cornerstone Adoption and Fostering Service, a Christian adoption agency based in central England, is continuing to defend its decision to only place children with heterosexual couples.
Aidan O’Neill, Cornerstone’s attorney, recently told the Court of Appeals that there is an “intimate link between evangelical identity and an acknowledgement that sexual intimacy is to be enjoyed exclusively within a marriage between two persons of the opposite sex.”
In 2019, the UK’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) downgraded Cornerstone’s official “good” status to “requires improvement.” The reason for this change, according to The Christian Institute, who is supporting Cornerstone’s case, “was Cornerstone’s policy of only recruiting evangelical Christians as carers [sic]. Ofsted claims this unlawfully discriminates against same-sex couples and non-Christians, despite it being entirely in line with exceptions in the Equality Act 2010.”
Cornerstone has received backlash for its position on marriage before, but this official censure could have a far reaching impact on British Christians. This case largely turns on a relatively new law called the Equality Act 2010. How the court interprets in that law in this case will likely impact how the law will be applied to religious organizations in the future.
In 2020, a British trial court heard Cornerstone’s case and, while the court agreed that it should be allowed to recruit Christian employees, the judge said the agency was not allowed to require its foster couples to be heterosexual. Cornerstone’s attorney recently addressed the Court of Appeal currently reviewing the case, telling the court, “if we were forced to adopt those who claim they subscribe to evangelical beliefs but do not conduct their lives in accordance with traditional biblical morality, then that would be undermining of those who have signed up to Cornerstone for its Christian evangelical ethos.”
This case comes on the heels of a similar case in the United States. In Fulton v. Philadelphia, the US Supreme Court this summer found in favor of a Catholic adoption agency that had its license revoked by the City of Philadelphia for only placing children with heterosexual couples. Even though it was a victory for the agency, the Court issued a very narrow ruling and left the door open for government discrimination of ministries operating in the public sphere.
For interviews, contact Addison Parker: firstname.lastname@example.org.