"Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there's no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it's just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses...and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it's mistaken. It's persuasion. It's the marketplace of ideas. Why should religion get a free ride"

Greta Christina

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

More on "homophobic" fostering

Just an update on this story from yesterday. I heard the couple involved being interviewed on the Today programme this morning. They sound a very nice and sincerely Christian couple and I still think the judgement to not allow them to foster was wrong. However, they said a few things in that naïve way that the religious do that bear comment.
Eunice Johns, when pressed by the interviewer about what she would tell a child that thought they were gay, or raised questions about homosexuality, said
“I would love him…I wouldn’t tell him it was right… but I wouldn’t love him any less”.
Which is fine, unless her idea of loving is to tell the child s/he is wrong, which was a suggestion she had trouble refuting. She went on to give the usual “hate the sin, love the sinner” apologetic that Christians use thoughtlessly as a substitute for true tolerance which suggests that the couple may have a problem dealing appropriately with the situation should it arise.
However Mrs Johns did make another point that was very salient. Given the age group of children they wish to adopt, five to ten year olds, you would probably be more worried that they were having explicitly sexual and gender conscious questions at all. Not that an eight year old say, couldn’t self identify as gay, but the degree of sexualisation they would have had to be exposed to would be an issue in itself. One would hope that the Johns’ first reaction would be to involve the professionals at that stage and not try to deal with it by themselves.
Both Mr and Mrs Johns also went on to suggest the ruling was a discrimination against Christians saying it was fine for homosexuals to have rights, but Christians should have rights too. This is patent nonsense and they are doing their cause no favours by making this an issue of religious discrimination. The ruling was about their ability to support a child through issues of homosexuality, given their attitude to the subject. It strikes me that all this couple needed to resolve their conflict was a little counselling and advice, to the extent of just being honest.
It would be no compromise to their faith or harm to the child to be told that their religion considered homosexuality to be wrong, but that it is not a universally held opinion. They might also say that there are other people who can talk about these issues from other perspectives.
It is a shame that such an obviously well meaning couple have got themselves in this position and I could go on all day about the absurdity of their beliefs, but that is not the problem here. Neither side in this case seems to be employing common sense and by making religion the issue they are both missing the point and the opportunity.

1 comment:

  1. You actually hit this well on the head. Though, I find the religious tendency for homophobia to be disgusting, I still respect the opinions of those who are level headed and not so bigoted to the point where they lose all rationality.

    If the couple were raving homophobes (especially the father), I would be deeply concerned for the child's safety since many raging homophobes are well known for spousal and/or child abuse and often deep indoctrination into THEIR way, or else. Thankfully, this isn't the case with this couple.

    Though, I would be worried if a child immediately chose their sexual orientation at the ages of 8-14, the judge is more looking at those years past that stage, and even farther. But, a child can easily have gender identity issues (gender dysphoria) as early as the age of three. Especially since gender has absolutely nothing to do with someone's sexuality, or their choice of orientation (otherwise gays would not exist, right?). Luckily, it's rare for a child to have severe gender dysphoria at that young of an age, but it does start becoming more common at the ages of 10.