How Long Before Christians Are Actively Persecuted in England?
by Sean Gabb
think it would be useful to begin this article with a brief statement of the facts. Eunice and Owen Johns are an elderly couple from Derby, who fostered a number of children in the 1990s, and who recently offered their services again to Derby City Council. Their offer was rejected on the grounds that, as fundamentalist Christians, they might teach any children in their keeping that homosexual acts were sinful. They took legal action against the Council, arguing that their beliefs should not be held against them. On the 28th February 2011, judgment was given against them in the High Court. The Judges ruled that, where the laws against discrimination are concerned, sexual minorities take precedence over religious believers. Because Mr and Mrs Johns might not remain silent about sexual ethics, there was a danger to the “welfare” of children taken from their homes by the Council.
The Judges insisted that this did not represent a “blanket ban” on the fostering of children by religious believers. There was no issue involved of religious liberty – no precedent being set for wider discrimination by the authorities. It was simply a matter of child welfare. You can read all this for yourself on the BBC website.
I think we can take it as read that the Judges were talking hot air about the nature of the precedent they were setting. There is already a modest but settled ruling class bias in this country against Christianity. This does not extend, so far as I can tell, to Jews and Moslems. But the bias does certainly apply to fundamentalist Christians, especially when it is a matter of what they believe and might say about homosexuality. Yesterday, they were barred from fostering, and perhaps also from adoption. It is only a matter of time before they are barred from teaching. It is conceivable that they will eventually be classed – on account of their beliefs – as unfit parents and will have their children taken away from them. Before that happens, of course, there will be laws against home education, and an inquisition in the schools of what they have been telling their children.
This is my most important observation arising from the case. The issues in themselves are not at all to my taste. I dislike the idea of fostering. There are times, I accept, when people are so violent or negligent that children must be taken away for their own protection. In these few instances, though, I prefer that children should be kept in orphan asylums or offered for adoption. The present system allows immense numbers of children to be snatched away by social workers – often for trivial, and even perhaps for corrupt, reasons – and then put into the temporary care of strangers. I will not deny that many foster parents do as fine a job as circumstances allow. Probably, Mr and Mrs Johns were good foster parents in the 1990s, and would have been again. Even so, those who volunteer as foster parents are giving support to a system that is mostly used to steal children who are in no reasonable danger.