A court found on Monday that a Christian couple who said they would expose children to anti-gay beliefs could be lawfully prevented by Derby City Council from fostering. The British Humanist Association commented on the decision, saying it shows that “prejudices and preferences come second to the needs and rights of vulnerable children”.
Not everyone was so welcoming of the decision, however. No one’s been burned at the stake yet but both the Telegraph and the Spectator labelled the ruling part of an ”Inquisition”.
The Spectator misrepresents the ruling by pulling the usual switcheroo. The Johns, the High Court decided, would be liable to push an anti-gay view on children, but the Spectator interprets: “Their crime is simply to believe it is wrong to promote a homosexual lifestyle to a child”. As if promoting homosexuality to children is what Derby City Council want! No, it’s that the Johns said they would actively tell children that expressing homosexuality (whether “lifestyle” or indeed intrinsic characteristic) was morally wrong, in their eyes, and in the eyes of God. Pish and posh, says the Spectator, They’re just good Christians who believe that “sex outside marriage is wrong”. Critics of the ruling do tend to fall back on that line: it’s sex outside marriage the Johns object to, and – the commentators want to add – morally conservative Christians don’t object to homosexuality per se… but they can’t quite say that because that’s obviously not the case and if actual gay marriage was fully legal the so-called “moral objections” (whatever they’re meant to be) would obviously become objections to gay sex inside marriage, or to gay marriage itself. Obviously. Really, really obviously.
Ironically, in one article the Telegraph headlines the quote “Our Christianity is our lifestyle”. Again the implication is that all evangelising anti-gay parents would be doing is influencing the lifestyle of the children, just as all parents do, so why does their Christian lifestyle fall foul of children’s possible future “lifestyle choices”. That the actual lifestyle choices of the religious parents are in conflict with what the law regards as potentially innate characteristics of children, no more changeable than race or sex, is beyond the critics’ ken.
Forgetting to imagine what it might be like as a child to have your nascent sexuality besmirched by your parents isn’t as bad as it gets, though. In an extraordinary feat of experimental narrative art, Cristina Odone manages to pen an entire eight paragraph long opinion piece about the case – in which she finds time to complain that Christianity itself is being “eradicated”, that laws are “taking apart” tradition (the tradition of homophobia?) and that secularists want to “scrub Christianity from public life” – without once even mentioning the crucial anti-gay views on which the case actually turned.