A political Christian lobby group are supporting the legal case of a couple refused permission to foster by the local authority on account of their religious, homophobic beliefs. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has warned that there is an ongoing fiction of unjust discrimination against Christians, when there has been little evidence to support that. Mr and Mrs Johns are beginning their case in the High Court today against a decision by Derby City Council.
The couple have been publicly supported by a number of Church of England Bishops, including Lord Carey, whose intervention in another case earlier this year was severely criticised by the Court of Appeal judge. The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey intervened in the case, asking for special treatment of Christians in Court of Appeal hearings, with senior judges standing down from Court of Appeal hearings involving religious discrimination to be replaced with a specially selected panel of religious judges.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Fostering is a vital service, giving care and support to some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the country. When we take on jobs of service to others, particularly to vulnerable children, we need to understand that our own prejudices and preferences come second to the needs and rights of those we are helping. If a person or couple wishing to foster feel unable to do so without forcing their homophobic beliefs onto the children they are charged to look after, which may well include gay and lesbian young people, then that may affect their suitability for that particular role. That is now for the High Court to decide.
‘What is alarming is that this seems to be yet another case whereby political Christian groups are supporting cases of alleged discrimination. In ruling on such cases, the courts have invariably found that where a Christian employee has chosen to provide the service for which they are employed in accordance with their subjective religious beliefs, rather than with the requirements of the job, that there is no legitimate case for religious discrimination. Instead of accepting this, the groups go on to claim instead that the whole system of law discriminates against them and that the whole of the law should shift to accommodate their prejudices. Theocratic arguments like this, advanced in the name of equality for Christians, need to be exposed for what they are.’
For further comment or information, please contact Andrew Copson on 07534 248596 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The British Humanist Association is the national charity representing and supporting the interests of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state