Appellate judges in England ruled Monday in a landmark case about the role of religion in parenting children under custody of the government. The decision: devoutly religious couples who would tell a child that homosexuality is a sin will not be allowed to serve as foster parents.
The case was brought by Owen and Eunice Johns, practicing Pentecostals who had cared for dozens of foster children over a span of several years.
In 2007, the British government passed sweeping laws against discrimination, including new protection for homosexuality.
Thus during a routine meeting with social workers to discuss a new application, the Johns were asked if they would comply with every facet of the law – even if that meant encouraging children to embrace gay lifestyles. The Johns said no: they would love the child and pray for it, but they would not indulge gay behavior.
The city of Derbeyshire rejected their foster application and flatly made it clear that they would not be allowed to take in more children. They contested their case in court.
On Monday, they lost:
The Associated Press reported that judges at London’s Royal Courts of Justice determined that laws protecting homosexuals from discrimination take precedence over the couple’s religious beliefs.
Britain, the judges ruled, was a “secular state, not a theocracy.” The Johns told The Press and Journal newspaper they were “extremely distressed.”
“We have been excluded because we have moral opinions based on our faith, and we feel sidelined because we are Christians with normal, mainstream, views on sexual ethics,” Eunice Johns said.