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Old 02-28-2011, 05:14 PM   #1
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Christian couple loses adoption rights

came across this story out of the UK:

Quote:
Anti-gay Christian couple lose foster care case


A Pentecostal Christian couple have lost their high court claim that they were discriminated against by a local authority because they insisted on their right to tell young foster children that homosexuality is morally wrong.

Eunice and Owen Johns, who are in their sixties and have fostered children in the past, claimed they were being discriminated against by Derby city council because of their Christian beliefs, after they told a social worker they could not tell a child a "homosexual lifestyle" was acceptable. The couple had hoped to foster five- to 10-year-olds.

The case was the latest to be brought by conservative evangelicals, led by the Christian Legal Centre, over their supporters' right to discriminate specifically against gay people and not be bound by equality regulations. All the cases have so far been lost.

In a sharply worded judgment, Lord Justice Munby and Justice Beatson dismissed the couple's lawyer's claims as "a travesty of reality".

"No one is asserting that Christians (or, for that matter, Jews or Muslims) are not 'fit and proper' persons to foster or adopt. No one is seeking to de-legitimise Christianity or any other faith or belief. On the contrary, it is fundamental to our law and our way of life that everyone is equal before the law and equal as a human being ... entitled to dignity and respect. We are, however, entitled to take judicial notice of the fact that, whereas the sharia is still understood in many places as making homosexuality a capital offence, ... the Church of England permits its clergy, so long as they remain celibate, to enter into civil partnerships. We live in this country in a democratic and pluralistic society, in a secular state not a theocracy."

Outside the court, Eunice Johns said: "We are extremely distressed at what the judges have ruled. All we wanted was to offer a loving home to a child in need, but because we are Christians with mainstream Christian views on sexual ethics, we are apparently unsuitable.

"We are prepared to love and accept any child. All we were not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing. We feel excluded and that there is no place for us in society."

The CLC's lawyer, Andrea Minichiello Williams, said: "How can judges get away with this? The law has been increasingly interpreted by judges in a way which favours homosexual rights over freedom of conscience. Britain is now leading Europe in intolerance to religious belief."

The judges in their ruling said they were not ruling against beliefs but against the discriminatory effects of those beliefs and that one set of beliefs could not take precedence in a pluralist society.

Derby city council said it had never taken a view on the Johns' application, adding: "It would be inappropriate for the council to approve foster carers who cannot meet minimum standards. It would be difficult and impractical to match children with Mr and Mrs Johns if they feel that strongly."

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights' charity Stonewall, said: "In any fostering case the interests of the 60,000 children in care should override the bias of any prospective parent. If you wish to be involved in the delivery of a public service you should be prepared to provide it fairly to anyone."


this is interesting to me because i feel 100% certain that the anti-marriage Right is going to latch onto this story as an example of the "unintended consequences" of SSM, and they're going to use it as an example of how they, really, are the persecuted ones and the ones being discriminated against for simply holding a religious conviction.

and they may have a point. is this acceptable grounds to disqualify someone from foster care? should we allow white supremacists to be parents? anti-Semites? fat people for fear that their eating habits will put their foster children at risk?

thoughts?
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Old 02-28-2011, 07:01 PM   #2
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Foster children *might* be somewhat of a special case, in that often they aren't actually available for, or even slated to be available for, permanent adoption by their foster parents. That aside, however--no, I'm not inclined to see this couple's beliefs about homosexuality as grounds for barring them from fostering children. You perhaps could (and actually, I would) make a kind of broader ethical argument about parenthood in general, that parents have an obligation to equip their children to be upstanding members of civil society, and that instructing them to view homosexuality strictly as disease, 'perversion' or immoral 'act' compromises their future fitness for that role, etc. ...but, I don't really see it as reasonable to suggest that that kind of lapse rises to the level of fundamental unfitness for parenthood, foster or otherwise. Especially given the enormous numbers of foster children needing a home out there, as the article points out.

Of course, there's the retort that for foster children who are themselves gay, such parental 'beliefs' amount to nothing short of abuse. But we don't separate biological families for that reason. Maybe that's a question better left to gay people raised by parents morally 'opposed to' homosexuality to answer?

(ETA--I also find it a little weird that the decision appeals to the UK being a 'secular state,' then turns around and cites Church of England doctrine as a relevant example...)
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Old 02-28-2011, 07:33 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yolland View Post
Foster children *might* be somewhat of a special case, in that often they aren't actually available for, or even slated to be available for, permanent adoption by their foster parents. That aside, however--no, I'm not inclined to see this couple's beliefs about homosexuality as grounds for barring them from fostering children. You perhaps could (and actually, I would) make a kind of broader ethical argument about parenthood in general, that parents have an obligation to equip their children to be upstanding members of civil society, and that instructing them to view homosexuality strictly as disease, 'perversion' or immoral 'act' compromises their future fitness for that role, etc. ...but, I don't really see it as reasonable to suggest that that kind of lapse rises to the level of fundamental unfitness for parenthood, foster or otherwise. Especially given the enormous numbers of foster children needing a home out there, as the article points out.
I'd have to agree with this. I certainly wouldn't like the idea of a child growing up in such a home, either, and definitely see the side of those who are okay with this decision, but at the same time, unfortunately, whether biologically yours or not, in every family you will encounter beliefs you may disagree with. Even if these foster parents were okay with homosexuality, the kids could still hear relatives and friends of those parents say those sorts of things.

And sometimes children do go against their parents' belief systems and develop their own line of thinking, too, so these kids could very well reject that belief as they get older.

Course, however...

Quote:
Originally Posted by yolland View Post
Of course, there's the retort that for foster children who are themselves gay, such parental 'beliefs' amount to nothing short of abuse, but we don't separate biological families for that reason. Maybe that's a question better left to gay people raised by parents morally 'opposed to' homosexuality to answer?
...this is a good point, and maybe this decision is a way to show the anti-gay side just how offensive it is to be denied the right to adopt children simply because they don't agree with the way you live your life. I read this quote from the couple:

Quote:
We feel excluded and that there is no place for us in society.
and I can't feel sympathy for them, all I can think instead is, "Well, guess now you have a bit of an idea of how same-sex couples feel, don't you?"

Angela
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Old 02-28-2011, 09:23 PM   #4
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As a Christian, I believe that Pentecostalism (the sect they are following) is a false teaching.

I do agree their view on homosexuality is correct according
to the scriptures.


That aside, I think it is very wrong that the couple was denied adoption.
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:17 AM   #5
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As a Christian, I believe that Pentecostalism (the sect they are following) is a false teaching.


oh, good, because, as a Christian, you'd obviously know.

i'm sure you've got the correct view of Christianity and are on the "good" list.
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Old 03-01-2011, 11:48 AM   #6
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As an asshole, I feel compelled to tell you that you're all wrong and I'm right.
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Old 03-01-2011, 08:39 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Irvine511 View Post
oh, good, because, as a Christian, you'd obviously know.

i'm sure you've got the correct view of Christianity and are on the "good" list.

I said what they are teaching is wrong. It's a lie.

Go view Benny Hinn, Ernest Angley or Paul Croach and so many others on "so called Christian television."

What do you think? Are they representing the message of Jesus?

In my view, they are false teachers.


Note: I did not mean to imply that all of Christian television is filled with false teachers,
but you do need to be careful.

*a new thread idea
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Old 03-01-2011, 08:44 PM   #8
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Old 03-02-2011, 08:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the iron horse View Post
I said what they are teaching is wrong. It's a lie.

Go view Benny Hinn, Ernest Angley or Paul Croach and so many others on "so called Christian television."

What do you think? Are they representing the message of Jesus?

In my view, they are false teachers.


Note: I did not mean to imply that all of Christian television is filled with false teachers,
but you do need to be careful.

*a new thread idea
Yes but I think the point is that you, we, me - we all need to be careful about stating we have the absolute teaching and they have the false teaching. You have made some statements about faith that do not show up in the Bible, so I think it's wise to show some humility in that aspect.
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Old 03-02-2011, 06:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Irvine511 View Post
is this acceptable grounds to disqualify someone from foster care?
What did you think about this? Just curious.
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:15 PM   #11
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I wonder what the rate of suicide is for gay children being raised in a home with fundamentalist parents who can't accept homosexuality?

Dan Savage says it's eight times higher than normal LGBT kids.

Quote:
"We are prepared to love and accept any child. All we were not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing."
Good for the judge. We know what this "love the sinner, hate the sin" rhetoric leads to, and it's injust.
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:59 PM   #12
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The list of environmental factors positively correlated with suicide in teenagers is very long. Even taking Savage's unsourced stat at face value, do we really want to get into evaluating legal fitness for parenthood based on whether or not you possess characteristics associated in studies with higher suicide rates in teens?

As I said earlier, foster parents should perhaps be considered as a special case. Still, I'm bothered by the thought that if such-and-such trait of the prospective foster parents legally constitutes an abusive environment, then logically biological families ought to be broken up and their children placed in state custody also, when that trait pertains.



ETA--I should add that for all we know, the legal reasoning behind this decision (which the article doesn't really explain) might boil down to something as narrow as, the state gives foster parents some public funds to support their service, and therefore they must meet comparable nondiscrimination criteria to what, for example, state agencies must observe in hiring. As opposed to a child welfare-based argument per se. In which case, probably neither the homophobes nor their opponents should be treating this as some sweeping defeat/victory in the "culture wars."
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:21 PM   #13
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with mild reservations, i agree with Dan Savage.

we'd remove a child from his parents if they refused medical care and believed that they'd be healed through faith alone. putting a state-supported child into the arms of parents who aren't merely unaccustomed to homosexuality but who are actively and clearly opposed to it's existence does seem to me ample grounds to refuse their right to foster a child.

take this comment from Savage's post:

Quote:
Haha, yeah, I aged out of the foster care system last year after having been placed with a fundamentalist Christian organization for eleven months. One of their rules was that you HAD to attend church, and so I was required to sit through innumerable hours (these were the kinds of sermons that take three hours at least) of people wailing passionately about the evils of Muslims, homosexuals, Hindus, other miscellaneous non-Christians, Jews, and so forth. They also wouldn't let me hang out with my friends because, as an out queer girl, it was assumed that I was having sex with them. Even though I'd been out and proud for months, it drove me up the wall to have to be constantly on the defensive about my sexuality and religious affiliation, and to be unable to interact with the people I was closest to outside of school--at a time when I was supposed to be cared for after having been removed from an abusive family environment, no less.
and if i hear about "practicing" homosexuality again i'm going to put my fist through a wall.
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Old 03-03-2011, 01:47 AM   #14
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^ I think that might be kind of different--placing an out lesbian 17-year old with a fundamentalist organization not of her own affiliation (I'd never even heard of a foster 'organization' before) would alienate her from the get-go and almost inevitably result in intense conflicts, clearly not good for an already traumatized child's development. As for couples who'd refuse a sick child medical care, that would pose a grave and immediate threat to the child's health if they got sick. But the couple in question were looking to foster 5-10 year olds, probably few of whom have articulated a sexual orientation or are ready to. Is there a child-welfare argument against them (as opposed to the use-of-public-funds argument)?
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Old 03-03-2011, 02:22 AM   #15
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These two quotes drove me fucking batty for hours because I initially read it very callously:

Quote:
Even taking Savage's unsourced stat at face value, do we really want to get into evaluating legal fitness for parenthood based on whether or not you possess characteristics associated in studies with higher suicide rates in teens?
Quote:
As I said earlier, foster parents should perhaps be considered as a special case. Still, I'm bothered by the thought that if such-and-such trait of the prospective foster parents legally constitutes an abusive environment, then logically biological families ought to be broken up and their children placed in state custody also, when that trait pertains.
Ok, so you're talking prospectively? Like, "as far as we know you haven't caused any current harm to the child, but this quality (hate homos!) indicates you probably would psychologically ravage the little critter. Denied!"

Total Minority Report situation, yeah?

Well, I'd say two things:
A) parents rejecting homosexuality DOES tend to harm gay kids (to a specific extent yet undetermined in this thread)
B) the "coping mechanisms" fundamentalist Christians like this couple likely would embrace for homosexuality are abysmal failures. They don't work. The best case scenario likely involves the gay kids rejecting the negative influence of their parents and finding a support structure outside their parents that actually accepts and sustains them. Which means the foster agency pretty much failed at their task of finding a good home. At medium, the kid survives but abused/hurt to some degree by a forced attempt to psychologically repress his nature. At worst, the kid commits suicide.

An overweight couple can, through diligence and hard work, inculcate nutritional discipline in their foster children. The odds that a couple who hates homosexual activity would non-abusively steer a gay child through puberty I find to be vanishingly thin, and so I find the prospect as likely as a Christian camp "curing" wayward gays.

This is, of course, a somewhat different issue than the specific ruling that prompted this thread. I will add a link to it and quotes in my next post.
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