Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Something Doesn't Add Up



Eunice and Owen Johns are members of the Christian Pentecostal Church.  Between August 1992 and January 1995 they were approved as short-term, respite, foster carers by Derby City Council.  They last fostered a child in September 1993 when they did so for one month.[4]  In London's High Court on Monday it was their application, made in January 2007, which they wished clarified. Shortly before the case was to be heard the Equality and Human Rights Commission decided they wanted to take part.

I've no intention of going into the ecclesiastical issues of the case because they have been well covered here (do read the paragraph regarding 'secular' judges), but there are a few points which concern me.

Mr and Mrs Johns attend church services twice every Sunday.  Part of Derby Social Services defence was that when asked about church activities Mrs Johns stated she felt she could not give up going to church.[9]  Nowadays I know few attend church services on Sundays - or any other days - but this ruling would appear to bar any church going person from fostering.

In paragraph [6] it's stated 'They are also recorded as telling Mrs Shaw [social worker] that they would not feel able to take a child to a mosque'. If they weren't Jewish they wouldn't be able to take a Jewish child to a synagogue, so the church service issue doesn't bear scrutiny.

The Johns' specifically wish to foster children up to the age of 10, so why are matters of sexuality relevant to such young children?  Or is it being suggested they should be?  With sex education now being a legal requirement in schools to children from the age of 5, it would seem the latter is the case and I foresee all future foster carers plus those applying to adopt, having to attend compulsory sex education training.

It was my belief that equality laws were supposed to uphold the rights to religious belief yet the High Court ruled that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation 'should take precedence' over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds.  Why has it been left to judges to decide whose rights trump those of others when this should have been decided by the Westminster Parliament?  Some say this is yet another sloppily drafted measure which will have far-reaching consequences for freedom of conscience in this country and I can't disagree.

Only last week Michael Gove announced reforms to the adoption regime which will remove barriers that plague the system.  Currently there are 64,000 children in care in England and adoption rates are falling.  Good foster carers are very valuable to our society - it's not a job I would consider.  Years ago short-term foster carers and respite carers were greatly cherished because they were the people who would give love and tender care to a frightened child and often at very short notice.

It must be noted that Derby CC stated (although there was no evidence filed) that it 'has approved foster carers who are very committed Christians who hold to orthodox beliefs - whatever that means - and devout Muslim carers who are similarly committed to their religion, but who in both instances are able to value diversity notwithstanding their strongly held religious beliefs...' [22]

It is my understanding that the Jewish and Muslim faith do not accept homosexuality, so how do Derby CC manage to recruit Muslim foster carers?  Are Muslim foster carers asked to care only for Muslim children?  If so that's surely discrimination.

As far as I'm aware sexuality is not defined by religion any more than the colour of our eyes or hair so why must the two be intertwined unless by individual choice?

The Court judgement appears to criticise the legal submissions, particularly that submitted by Mr and Mrs Johns' lawyer Paul Diamond.  Even so, something doesn't add up.  Is it because the more liberal we are said to have become, the more illiberal we have become?

40 comments:

J. R. Tomlin said...

They don't ACCEPT homosexuality? Well, it exists, so would you care to tell me how they don't ACCEPT it? If you mean that all Jews think that homosexuals are hated by God, there are many Jews who do not accept such a proposition.

No, I do not think children who might have minority sexuality should be placed in an environment where they might be maltreated because of their developing sexuality.

brownlie said...

subrosa,

I've been fostering for over twelve years and I don't recall anyone ever asking me about my religious beliefs.

Grogipher said...

"It was my belief that equality laws were supposed to uphold the rights to religious belief yet the High Court ruled that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation 'should take precedence' over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds."

They were, and they do. But the religious rights of the child, as well as the religious rights of the (foster) parents.

I have no issue with Derby Council's position; they're basically saying you can hold whatever beliefs you like (I don't know where you got the bit about not being allowed to go to Church from?), as long as you don't try to enforce them upon the child?

My parents certainly have their own beliefs, their own politics, their own sexuality, all of which differ from my own.. They didn't beat me for being agnostic, and I'm sure if I had decided to subscribe to a religion they'd support me and make sure I could attend the meetings or whatever. I think DCC are just trying to do the same?

What if I had been given to this couple to be "looked after"? I dread to think what sort of ideals they'd try to implant in my head....

Joe Public said...

No wonder this country is so short of caring foster parents.

"....Derby CC stated .... that it 'has approved foster carers who are devout Muslim .....' [22]"

I detect a conflict of fact in that paragraph.

Edward Spalton said...

"Equality" laws are not about equality but about state interference and, essentially, about the attempted creation of a "new man" (and woman) whose principal relationship is with and through the state.

This has been largely achieved with the deliberate encouragement of single parent families where the mother essentially "marries" the state as far as support is concerned whilst having affairs with sequential "baby fathers".

School indoctrination in homosexuality is another part of official determination to destroy the family, which is a potential source of traditional values independent of the state.

There is no other logical explanation for this official policy.
Why turn everything upside down for some one per cent of the population?

The inexorable progression of this trend is that children will be removed from natural parents who do not go along with the official teaching. Or they may be placed under some sort of "training" and "supervision"to achieve conversion to the official view.

Apogee said...

Hi SR.Have read a lot of articles about "gays", it seems that every paper and news broadcast has to have an item on "gays".
But I have never seen an article/interview with a representative of the Muslim Church stating their position on this.All the indications I have seen so far is that the Muslim religion is dead against homosexuality!
And as for "teaching" children under ten about Homosexuality, one wonders if at some point this does not become an insidious form of "grooming", as in getting the child to think in ways they may never have thought about naturally,depriving the child of natural development and making the child more "approachable" at a later age!
Never thought of it this way?
Never wondered why some groups are pushing this "sex lessons in schools" so hard? And who and what they really are, and their real intentions?
Maybe we should all think hard about this matter !

subrosa said...

Jeanne, as far as I know the Jewish and Muslims religions are not tolerant of homosexuals. If course there may be many Jews who are tolerant, just as there are Christians. My remark was a general one with regard to the Jewish and Islamic religions.

These people want to short-term foster children under 10 years of age. I'm surprised you think sexuality is a major issue in children under 10.

subrosa said...

Brownlie, well you could be shortly by the looks of things - once the EHRC gets to know.

subrosa said...

Grogipher, if Derby CC say they can't place young children with a carer who attends church services (which it said in its presentation was a 'problem'), then surely this rejects any prospective foster carers. who are church goers.

The case seems to have been badly presented I think. It wasn't a couple taking DCC to court as the 'accused' but the two parties going to court to clear up a 'wooly' piece of legislation.

subrosa said...

That's what doesn't add up Joe, these few points, unless as I say Muslim foster carers are given only Muslim children, which is discrimination.

subrosa said...

You're right Edward, there's no other explanation.

subrosa said...

Hi Apogee, no I don't think you will find one because the Muslim Church doesn't appear to allow any form of 'tolerance' on the subject.

I agree we should be thinking harder and analysing certain groups attitudes. Of course it's hard to dig into these groups because they're protected more and more by legislation.

English Pensioner said...

I wonder how one takes the oath in this court. Both as a witness, and as a juror I have sworn the oath on a Bible, and I believe that a Judge takes a similar oath when appointed.

But why should homosexuality be singled out as a special requirement? What about other beliefs, such as vegetarianism? Is one "indoctrinating" children if they get meat for dinner each day?
My children never asked and nothing was said about gays. But they did ask about other issues which were probably just as contentious, like children who "only had a mother" and those "whose parents aren't married". One tries to give an unbiased viewpoint, but children can detect your disapproval even if you don't actually voice it.

In fact adults have far less control over their children's thinking than they like to admit, and even if this couple had told a child that they considered homosexuality was an unacceptable way of life, (as we, and I suspect a huge percentage of parents would) I doubt if in the longer term it would have made an iota of difference.

Apogee said...

Hi SR. These councils records on which children are fostered or adopted with ,could make interesting reading, and could well prove that theory and reality are considerably different.
They may well avoid problems with certain religious groups by being very selective in what they do,like making sure no conflicts WILL arise.
That way they can be selective in the questions they ask !
And what of the attitude of individuals in this system, their "Sexuality", the number of children in care being sexually assaulted as reported in the press makes me wonder if the whole system is rotten.

pa_broon74 said...

Religion is about belief, sexuality is about biology. Which is why sexuality should trump religion in terms of 'human rights' every time.

Most orthodox or hardline religions don't approve of homosexuality but they all have moderate arms that do tolerate it, the understanding being; that love is love etc (to gushy for me to go into.)

There is a US Muslim organisation The Al-Fatiha Foundation which is quite progressive and there are others. In Iran however, they still hang homosexuals as you occasionally see in the news.

Those are extremes though and not pertinent to this story. The problem with young folk gowing up with an alternative sexuality is thus: They are already bombarded with hetero propaganda, in the news, in books, in movies. They already think homosexuality is a bad thing, that its wrong. The last thing they need is a parent or guardian reinforcing the notion.

I imagine in a foster parent I'd be looking for tolerance above all else. This couple clearly couldn't/wouldn't show it being as they said they couldn't say homosexuality was an acceptable way of living life. Even at age 8 that type of comment sticks, kids remember, I know I did.

From my point of view, telling a child that heterosexuality is the only right way forward is as bad as telling them homosexuality is the only right way.

You're not even letting them decide for themselves, fate & biology has already done that for them.

The best you can do is support them. Anything else is a hindrance.

PS: @English Pensioner: Homosexuality isn't a belief or a life style choice like vegetarianism. Its a biological imperative exactly the same as heterosexuality.

Billy said...

pa-broon74

Bang on with your comment. The trouble is with these religions is that thousands of years ago they did not understand things or know what was going on they decided some mumbo jumbo to explain it or how to deal with it.

Look at all the other garbage they used to come out with such as witches - how many people died because of that just because of the way people looked or acted.

All of these religions have the same views on most things because they all come from the same Sun God myth background - The Egyptian Osiris/Horus or Indian Krishna, the argument is which one is the oldest. All the other religions, Buddha, Mithra, Christ etc etc are just carbon copies of these and are all about worshiping the Sun and the zodiac.

Time to get religion out of schools or to teach all of the above and maybe we will get less ignorant and bigoted people in the world. There should be no sex education in primary school either - let the kids be kids until they are older, it worked for the rest of us.

john.boettcher said...

Reading this article might clear up some misconceptions in the media about this case; especially the social worker's reports.

http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2011/03/fostering-gay-rights-and-secular-law.html

Regards,
John

Jo G said...

My goodness Billy you're ranting away there about intolerance and bigotry yet your own views are loaded with both.

As far as I'm concerned children going into foster care need stability above anything else and to turn the issue into yet another debate about sexuality suggests to me the priorities are all wrong.

Apogee said...

Could it be that a few thousand years back they needed all the people that they could breed, and homosexual goings on would not achieve that.

Could it be that with the population levels now in the world,our elites, rulers etc have decided promoting homosexuality could help to reduce the population, thus reduce consumption, greenhouse gases, land use etc.
Just thinkin'.
Course it could be a natural way triggered by overpopulation and overcrowding of keeping the population down?
Just thinkin'.

Billy said...

Apogee - The only problem with that is you are either gay or you are not. No matter how anyone promotes homosexuality I will never want to be with a man any more than Subrosa would want to be with a woman.

Jo G - If you would read my comment again you will see that I do not think we should be teaching sex education to these young children, which includes sexuality. The kids aren't allowed to grow up these days and that is the fault of the parents also.

I am very tolerant and am in no way bigoted. I could not care less about someones sexuality or what colour they are but when it comes to religion - the most intolerant and bigoted institution on the planet, where most of the intolerance and bigotry comes from then I am afraid I will not sit back and say nothing especially when these religions are based on lies to start with.

subrosa said...

I understand it's still on a Bible if you're a Christian EP.

The gay issue is beginning to get on people's nerves I believe because most people aren't interested in the sexuality of strangers. Live and let live seems to be most folks attitude but there's hardly a week goes past without some gay issue hitting the headlines.

subrosa said...

Oh how I'd love to read some of these files Apogee. Of course I'm not suggesting any of them would be doctored.

subrosa said...

Pa broon, you think gays are bombarded with hetero propaganda? Funnily enough I think these days it's the opposite.

Respite, short-term foster carers are few and far between. These are the people who take young children with perhaps an hour's notice when the live of the child is in turmoil. Maybe it's my age, but I've never heard of a parent discussing homosexuality with an 8 year old.

subrosa said...

Billy, where do you get your morals and values from? Don't say your parents. I mean the source.

subrosa said...

Thanks for the link John.

subrosa said...

Right John. Love is what they need. I don't object to a gay couple adopting a child because I know every child needs love, but looking at that from another angle, what message is the gay couple giving to the child about hetrosexuality?

subrosa said...

Just thinking indeed Apogee, but it's a worthy point.

john.boettcher said...

Hello Subrosa, I thnk the most important bit of the article is how the couple would react if their child bullied a gay youngster. No answer.

As for your point about gay couples, in my knowledge most gay people have straight family, friends. The media also tends to show heterosexual relationships as the 'norm' - I mean that most television programmes tend to show over-whelmingly straight relationships which is hardly surprising considering that most folk are straight!

I think much of the debate stems from a nature versus nurture argument. I have not seen any conclusive, empirical evidence that innate sexuality can be altered. I want to emphasise "innate"; not enforced by say prison, all-male environments where men (much more than women) will change their sexual activities though don't appear to leave such restricted and same-gendered environments with a different sexuality.

Anyway, I have read the full judgement and I think justice was done in this case.

Kind regards,
John

subrosa said...

John, that question is one which I found ludicrous. I wouldn't be able to reply to it either mainly because I would have said it was ludicrous. The people specifically asked for children between 5-10. Are you telling me a child of that age knows what gay means? Now that's a stupid question from me because sex education is given to 5 year olds these days so yes, they possibly do.

If I was present when any child of mine bullied any other child for any reason I'd do something. But I wouldn't be telling a social worker what I intended believe me. They'd have me arrested.

The issue of gays is getting quite out of proportion. Where foster care is involved the quality of love and kindness should be what's judged. Short-term foster carers only look after children for a brief time in a crisis.

I too have read the full judgement. In the case of what was written by one social worker, one of the Johns' denied some things were said. According to the judge the claimant and defendant papers were sadly lacking if they existed at all.

As I said, one point which troubled me is the social worker using the Johns' church attendance as a negative. Does that mean every foster carer has to have the child with them 24 hours a day and they can't have a few hours to themselves?

I'm on nobody's side here but I do think people ought to be able to follow their religion without discrimination. Now it's known that if you're a church going Christian then you are not fit to be a foster carer. Wonderful world isn't it? People like that were treasured just a couple of decades ago and now they're pilloried.

john.boettcher said...

Alas, kids very much know (and have known in my personal experiences) what "gay" means - and it's used pejoratively. I experienced such bullying in Primary school.

"Gay" is used as a term to denote weakness, uselessness, "unnatural" (which in itself is crazy as it's part of nature) and unfortunately such bullying results in events like described here:

http://www.johannhari.com/2011/01/28/why-do-so-many-right-wingers-object-to-protecting-gay-kids

Look at the horrifying statistics, especially suicide.

Foster parents whose extreme views (the Pentecostals are a very peculiar christian sect) cannot support a child who may suffer from homophobic bullying, whether that child turns out to be gay or not. And not willing to answer what they would do (or rather, indicating what they would not do) if their foster-child were involved in homophobic bullying I feel is in the best interests of any child.

This is a matter of ethics, not morals.

Is it ethical to allow children to be fostered in a home where distress may be brought about by the foster parents' beliefs?

Would anyone in their right minds allow Jehova Witnesses to foster a child, knowing their vies on blood transfusion, for instance?

Religion is a cultural thing, essentially, as the judgement concludes.

I think children should be fostered by people who are loving, tolerant and supportive: the couple in the case did not prove they could be so.

Kind regards,
John

Apogee said...

I am getting an impression that the only people allowed an opinion on "gays" is gays, unless the opinion is positive for gays.
I am personally sick and tired of gays agressively pushing their case every chance they get.
Most people are totally disinterested and just want peace and quiet.

pa_broon74 said...

One major point of order here.

None of the actions in this court case was instigated by 'gays', the whole thing was a reaction to the potential behaviour of a straight couple. You could argue that historically gay lobby groups have got behind the generation of this legislation but you have to remember, there is inequality (not as much as there was right enough but its there) so its only as a result of that.

As to a 5-10 year knowing what the word or idea of 'gay' means; they do. It means crap, unfashionable, unacceptable, rubbish, substandard, not up to scratch, different, abnormal.

It doesn't matter that they don't know what the actual idea means. For those 5-10 years they have it instilled into there minds that to be gay is a very bad thing, then if the worst happens and they are, they spend the next ten years struggling with it, I've known people who didn't win their personal struggle with it.

All because of misunderstanding & religious intolerance.

I disagree about the gay propaganda. You show me a film where a gay relationship is the norm and I'll show you 100 where its not. Funnily enough, I don't think thats wrong though because at the end of the day hetero is the norm for the vast majority but it doesnt mean to say society can't be more tolerant.

Probably said this before, but I dont approve of the gay lobby groups per se, although a lot of this is coming from people who aren't part of that group but are the new 'offenderatti' (copyright ;-) who have made an industry out of being offended on behalf of minorities they are not a part of. Gay pride marches for young people growing up paint an inaccurate picture, they reinforce the negative stereotype and that is damaging; it encourages the bullies and actually undermines those growing up with an alternative sexuality.

Also, I have never nor will I ever wear arseless chaps because I would feel like a total plum.

;-)

Billy said...

john.boettcher & pa_broon74

Here! Here!

Subrosa - You are not going to tell me that it is Christianity that has given us our morals or religion.

The Christian 10 commandments are stolen from the pagan Egyptian Book of the Dead - only the Egyptians have hundreds of commandments. How can we get morals from a book, the Bible, which is a dishonest con - a rip-off of ancient pagan myths being passed off as the truth.

Pagan people had morals thousands of years before religion.

subrosa said...

Well John, I'll have to accept your word because I don't know any 5 year olds who would understand the meaning of 'gay'. And why should they?

Jings, how things have changed in the past 40 years. Gay used to be an English word meaning happy, light-hearted.

As for Johann Hari's article, I'm always reluctant to read anything in which children are described as 'kids'. Kids are the offspring of goats. and to call children kids is insulting.

If schools spent as much time on educating children towards an adult life in which they would achieve a job - hopefully a fulfilling one - and the confidence to take responsibility for their actions as they do on sexual matters, we may just produce a well educated generation.

This court case was about legally defining Westminster legislation.

If you knew of a 5 - 10 year old child who had to be urgently taken into care, would the fact the foster carers were Pentecostal Christians matter if you knew they were people who had the ability to give love, understanding and tenderness to a distressed child in their time of need?

In this day and age how anyone can define the religion of many children defeats me.

subrosa said...

There's seldom a week goes by when a gay issue doesn't hit the headlines Apogee.

Pensioners are soon to be 50% of the population yet get nothing like the amount of attention.

subrosa said...

True Pa Broon. It was instigated by the Johns', with the agreement of Derby CC, in order to clarify legislation which included attitudes towards sexuality. That's the way I read the judgement.

But you say it 'doesn't matter 5 - 10 year olds don't know what gay means' and they've made up their own meanings. That's exactly what's wrong and after all these years of sex education in schools. Something is wrong with the education system in that case.

PaBroon, what's your definition of norm? What's a 'normal' pensioner? Some would say a groaning old fart and others would say a person who's rushing around so much they never have time to babysit their grandchildren. It's so easy to use that word 'norm'. If you're using it as meaning 'average' then that's another story.

It's time the gay lobby and politicians stopped and allowed our children to have a childhood. Of course that's not on the social agenda.

As for children bullying others, usually their views come direct from the home. They hear family members speaking and copy what they hear.

I've said this before. I'm becoming weary of the continual interference of do-gooders in my life and I don't mean just the gay lobby. There's the alcohol, tobacco, don't-use-your-car, don't- put on- your-heating, don't-eat a multitude of foods. The list goes on and on and on.

subrosa said...

Billy, I'm not going to tell you anything. I asked you a question that's all.

I admit it was Sunday School when I was wee which introduced me to morals and self-discipline. Fortunately it was a laid-back place which didn't push children into accepting. Gradually from there I decided my own values and morals but, without that information, I would have had no base to work on. Later in life I studied other religions and therefore built on my childhood information.

It could be argued paganism is a form of religion. In fact I know two English pagan leaders and they would tell you that voluntarily. They describe it as a 'plan of life'.

Jo G said...

Billy your attacks on those with spiritual beliefs smacked of both bigotry and intolerance.

Jo G said...

"the Pentecostals are a very peculiar christian sect"

In what way John?

And if someone else here suggested that "homosexuality is a very peculiar thing" would you not label them homophobic?

john.boettcher said...

Jo G -

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/subdivisions/pentecostal_1.shtml

As for the latter query, of course not! It is peculiar as an evolutionary adaption in so many species though there are good Darwinian explanations for the emergence of such behaviours which are entirely natural, as in, found in nature.

Regards,
John

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