Lawsuit? Gov't Says Pastor Who Believes 'More Outdated Parts of the Bible' Can't Foster Kids
Last October, a Canadian pastor and his wife were denied the opportunity to foster children after a social worker asked the pastor if he believes "the more outdated parts of the Bible," specifically passages on sexuality. A lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms sent a demand letter urging Child Services to reconsider, but the Justice Centre had not heard back by the deadline Tuesday. The pastor is considering taking legal action.
"As of right now, I don't believe we've had a response, so we're going to discuss with the clients what the next steps should be, whether court action should be pursued," John Carpay, the Justice Centre's president, told PJ Media in an interview on Wednesday. He mentioned a similar adoption case, suggesting that the law would clearly defend the pastor if the dispute went to court.
Melanie McLearon, director of communications & community relations at Simcoe Muskoka Family Connexions, told PJ Media "we have corresponded with the Centre on January 24 and again on February 4 with plans to provide both a formal response as well as having requested a meeting."
The Justice Centre sent the demand letter late last month, with a deadline of February 5.
According to the demand letter, the Simcoe Muskoka Child, Youth and Family Services office in Barrie, Ontario rejected the Christian couple's application after a staffer (B, name redacted as per Social Services request) asked the pastor (L) if his church "still believes in some of the more outdated parts of the Bible." Since the Child Services office is a government office, this hostile question suggests an official government position on religious beliefs.
Later in the interview, Ms. B questioned L [full name redacted], who is a [redacted] pastor, regarding his religious beliefs. She asked him if his church was a "fundamental" church that "still believes in some of the more outdated parts of the Bible." L responded that his church believes and adheres to all parts of the Bible.
Ms. B then commented that her son is "gay" and that he had been told by churches in the past that homosexuality is a "sin".
L responded that although he believes in the Bible and the Bible does identify homosexual behaviour as a "sin", he believes all people are created in the image of God and are worthy of respect, dignity and honor, and that, in accordance with their beliefs, him and his wife would provide any child in their care with unconditional love, respect, and compassion regardless of the child’s sexuality.
B also told the pastor that foster parents are not allowed to spank children, and the pastor pledged not to spank his children or any foster children.
While the staffer did not prove quite as hostile when questioning the pastor's wife (A), both parents "felt that their sincerely-held religious beliefs were odious to Ms. B."