Christian foster parents no longer forced to promote homosexuality

A committed Christian foster couple who were told they would have to give up their foster son following their refusal to sign an Equality policy, which forbids discrimination on the grounds of homosexuality, have won the right to have their personal convictions and conscientious objections recognised.

Vince Matherick, a 65-year-old minister at South Chard Christian Church in Somerset and his wife, Pauline were previously told they would not be re-registered as foster carers because of their religious beliefs, despite the fact they had been fostering since 2001 and had looked after 28 children.

Earlier this year they were asked to agree to a new Equality policy which would require them to say that homosexual relationships were equal to heterosexual marriages if asked by a child about such relationships.

Mr Matherick explained that he and his wife had never discriminated against anybody, but that they would not teach children about the practice of homosexuality because the Bible condemns any kind of sexual practice outside of a marital relationship.

The couple were threatened with the prospect of having to give up custody of their 11-year-old foster son after being told that would have to sign the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs), which are part of the Equality Act 2006, by social services.

The couple reported that they had been told by officials they would be required to discuss same-sex relationships with their child who is only 11, and say that gay partnerships were just as acceptable as heterosexual marriages.

Mr Matherick said: "I cannot preach the benefits of homosexuality when I believe it is against the word of God."

However, the couple met on Wednesday with social services leaders and secured an agreement which will allow their personal convictions and conscientious objections to be recognised.

The Mathericks now hope to continue to foster children as before.

Andrea Williams of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship commented, "This is a significant step forward for Christian freedoms in that the Council has agreed not to force Mr and Mrs Matherick to act against their Christian beliefs.

"This should be of enormous encouragement to all Christians who want to take up the important role of caring for vulnerable children."