The Corner

The Dismaying Johns Fostering Case

A respectable black couple from Derby, England, called Mr. and Mrs. Johns, wanted to foster a child aged between 5 and 10. In the 1990s, they had already successfully fostered 15 such children and now, after a break, wanted to resume.

However, there was a stumbling block. No one ever suggested that they were other than decent and compassionate people; but, being evangelical Christians, they answered questions put to them by a social worker about homosexuality in a way that was deemed unacceptable. They did not know what they would do if their hypothetical foster child started to bully a homosexual child because of his homosexuality; they said that they did not think that homosexuality was morally neutral, believing it rather to be against the laws of God; and they admitted quite openly that they would not change their minds about this. On the other hand, they said that they would treat an individual homosexual with kindness: no doubt an attitude thought condescending.

The Derby social services and Mr. and Mrs. Johns went to court to seek advance clarification of the legal position should the Johns be denied the opportunity to foster children on the grounds that they did not fulfill their obligation to be non-discriminatory towards homosexuals and homosexuality.

Contrary to impressions given in many reports in the press, the court declined to rule; it said that the case was purely hypothetical, Mrs. and Mrs. Johns had not yet been denied the right to foster, and the court did not consider merely hypothetical cases. It therefore did not rule either that Mr. and Mrs. Johns had, or had not, the right to foster.

However, it did say that Christian views were entitled to no special protection in England (notwithstanding the fact that there is, at least for now, an established church). The law stated that the principle of diversity, under which various, though presumably not quite all, moral viewpoints were entitled to equal legal consideration and protection, was legally paramount, and therefore Christians were not illegally discriminated against if or when they were denied the opportunity to foster because they refused to teach their child that homosexuality was not morally inferior to heterosexuality. In such a case they would not be discriminated against religiously (religious discrimination being itself illegal), but correctly prevented from discriminating illegally against homosexuals. In other words, you can have any opinion you like, so long as it is ours.

I’ve known saner lunatic asylums than this. Surely any sensible person, religious or otherwise, would simply say ‘The Johns are very good people, they have an excellent record of fostering young children who need fostering: finita la commedia.’        

But no: in the modern world everything must be codified, and everyone must conform in the name of diversity. Let the heavens fall, so long as the boxes have been ticked.

Anthony Daniels — Mr. Daniels, a retired doctor who worked in several parts of the world, is the author of Mass Listeria, a book about health scares.


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