Mar 5, 2011

A new tyranny – extraordinary words by David Starkey on homosexuality & Christianity

The historian, television and radio presenter, David Starkey is gay and an atheist.  He is also an honorary member of the National Secular Society.  You might therefore expect him to be clearly in favour of the ruling in the High Court this week that banned a Christian couple from fostering children because of their religious beliefs.  Watch the exchange of views amongst the five panelists on this weeks Question Time and you may be surprised.


  • David Starkey seems spot on. The notion that we can love and nurture children (or anyone for that matter) and simultaneously keep our values and opinions completely to ourselves is functionally nonsensical. Nobody, Christian or not, lives like that.

  • Neil, the ruling didn’t ban the Christian couple from fostering. It refused to rule in favour of the couple, and said that there was no council decision to review, since due to social workers’ advice, the couple had dropped their application. In this instance, the Christian Institute have tried to give a careful report, and John Richardson wrote a post for the Times (free on Ruth Gledhill’s blog) which seems to weigh things up helpfully.

  • PS I’m not sure that the ‘some adversity is good for children’ argument will really be persuasive for those considering whether to place children with particular foster carers!

  • Whether the court ruling technically banned Christians from fostering or not, that is definitely the direction in which the ruling is heading.

    Here are some comments I posted on the Evangelical Alliance’s Facebook wall

    Section 99 of the judgement says:

    “If the defendant’s treatment is the result of the claimants’ expressed antipathy, objection to, or disapproval of homosexuality and same-sex relationships it is clear, on authorities which bind us, namely the decisions of the Court of Appeal in Ladele and McFarlane, that it would not be because of their religious belief. Moreover, the defendant’s treatment of the claimants would not be less favourable than that afforded other persons who, for reasons other than the religious views of the claimants, expressed objection to, or disapproval of, homosexuality and same-sex relationships contrary to the National Minimum Standards for Fostering and the defendant’s various policies.” —

    I take this to mean that the court believes that Christians who disapprove of same-sex relationships fail to meet the National Minimum Standards For Fostering.
    The court argues that this is not discrimination against Christians because non-Christians who disapproved of same-sex relationships would be affected in the same way.

    The Evangelical Alliance Report “Faith, Hope and Homosexuality” concluded that the “mainstream evangelical” viewpoint is that “monogamous heterosexual marriage is the only form of partnership approved by God for full sexual relations today”

    Surely then, the court is at least implying that mainstream evangelicals would fall short of the National Minimum Standards for Fostering.

    97 “… In our judgment the local authority was entitled to have regard to these matters; indeed, if the local authority had failed to explore these matters it might very well have found itself in breach of its own guidance and of the National Minimum Standards for Fostering and the Statutory Guidance to look no further.”

    Surely the court is here suggesting that foster agencies across the country would be in breach of the National Minimum Standard and Statutory Guidance if they failed to inquire into potential foster carer’s views on same-sex relationships.

    Perhaps what the Evangelical Alliance statements says is technically true

    “Claims that mainstream Christians who believe homosexual practice to be morally wrong will be unable to foster children are inaccurate. The court declared a ‘no ruling’ on the matter. ”

    Nevertheless, the publlished views of this court include:
    1. Disapproval of same-sex relationships fails to meet the National Minimum Standard for Fostering
    2. Local authorities have a duty to inquire into people’s views of same sex relationships when assessing potential foster parents.

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