In an important case in the United Kingdom, the High Court held this week that Christian views on sexual morality could be “inimical” to a child’s welfare.
Mr. and Mrs. Johns wanted to foster a child as young as five as respite carers for parents who were having difficulty. Some 15 years earlier they had successfully fostered, but work commitments meant that they were unable to devote sufficient time to children. When they retired, they applied to be registered as foster carers again.
Early on in the assessment process, their Christian faith was identified (they are Pentecostals). It was felt their views on sexual ethics conflicted with the duty to promote and value diversity. Of course, the Johns said they would love and care for the child but they couldn’t promote the homosexual lifestyle. They were rather bewildered by the process, as they wanted to foster a five-year-old. Mr. Johns fatally said he would “gently turn them round,” and so the seeds for a major legal case were sown.
Derby City Council refused to register them as foster carers, with the Johns asserting that they were being denied because they were Christians.
The state-sponsored Equality and Human Rights Commission intervened and argued that it was the duty of the state to protect vulnerable children from becoming “infected” with Judeo-Christian values of sexual morality.
The rest is history, and in a startling judgment, the High Court held last Monday that the United Kingdom is a secular state and that Christianity as part of the law is “mere rhetoric.” For Americans to note, the United Kingdom is formally a Christian state with the Queen as the head of the Church of England.
The court made a series of statements to the effect that rights of sexual orientation trump religious freedom, that a local authority can require positive attitudes to be demonstrated towards homosexuality, that the Johns’ traditional Christian views could conflict with the “duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of looked after children,” and finally that Article 9 (Europe’s pale reflection of the First Amendment) does not protect beliefs contrary to the interests of the child.
This is but one of a number of cases that display clear hostility to Christian and Judeo-Christian values. There are also cases on British Airways permitting the hijab, turban, and Siska Hindu ponytail to be worn, but banning the Cross; and cases on dismissal of employees not wishing to participate in recognition of same-sex civil partnerships, or voicing support of marriage (which discriminates against people who live together), or offering (Christian) prayer.
These examples must be juxtaposed with the excessive sensitivity in British society to the rights of Muslims. There has been an explosion of radical Islamists in London, the latest being the Detroit bomber Umar Farouk. The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for the introduction of sharia law, calling it “inevitable.” He was supported by the Lord Chief Justice.
It is important for Americans to understand these developments, so they can learn from the British experience. The first lesson is the speed and success of the secular ideology in replacing Judeo-Christian freedoms. In 1997, the United Kingdom was a more stable country than the United States; an evolving state with a millennium of religious liberty. If someone had told me then that within little more than a decade, stable Christian households would be deemed unsuitable to foster children, or that Crosses would be banned, or that hate-speech laws would be used to crush the very ideas of dissent, I would not have believed it. I would have been labeled an alarmist if I had expressed views to that avail.
The second factor to recognize is that the terms liberal, diversity, and tolerance are descriptors for a political program which logic and law alone cannot explain. Thirdly, the secular movement is but a variant of the utopian ambitions that have inspired man from the beginning of time. However, the endgame of such programs is always the same. To repeatedly promote a failed ideology is base ignorance or, at its worst, criminal.
A final note: Do not lose hope for the United Kingdom, we have been here before. And as Prime Minister Winston Churchill said: “Never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing great or small, large or petty — never give in.”
— Paul Diamond, barrister, was counsel in the Johns case.