By Hilary White

  OAKWOOD, Derby, UK, February 27, 2008 ( – In November 2007, reported that a Christian couple in Somerset, UK, was being forced to retire from fostering needy children on conscientious grounds after the local council imposed rules requiring them to discuss homosexuality with the children. Now a similar case is reported in Derby, in which the local council is being sued after rejecting an application from a Christian couple to assist foster children under ten years old. The Telegraph reports that Eunice and Owen Johns refused to talk to children about homosexuality as though it were an acceptable “lifestyle”.

  The Labour-controlled council adoption panel was also reportedly “upset” that the couple insisted that children in their care would be required to accompany the family to church on Sundays. The Johns have been married for 39 years and have four adult children of their own. Mrs. Johns is a retired nurse and Sunday school teacher.

  The adoption panel admitted in internal documents that Mr. and Mrs. Johns of Oakwood, in Derby, might have grounds to feel that they had been “discriminated against on religious grounds”.

  In the Somerset case last year, Vincent and Pauline Matherick were able, after their case caught national media attention, to reach an agreement with their local council authorities and keep their current child, a ten year-old boy, in their home. They had made almost identical complaints and told media that they intended to retire from fostering children after the council insisted that they participate in discussions about homosexuality.

  Mr. and Mrs. Johns’ lawyer said the couple were not ‘homophobic,’ but believed that sex outside of marriage was wrong and that marriage cannot include same-sex partners. The couple are being represented by the Christian Legal Centre, which is asking for a judicial review of the council’s decision.

  Evangelical Alliance General Director, the Reverend Joel Edwards, said, “We are worried about this issue because it appears someone can be disqualified from giving care to vulnerable children because of a local council’s attitude to their conscience – which we believe violates their rights as citizens.”

  Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said, “It seems that Christians are gradually being squeezed out of the adoption process. It’s exactly what we said would happen. In the name of equality, it’s discriminating against Christians.”

“I would like to see the council back down and adopt a more realistic approach. Either that or tell Christians that they are not welcome to foster in the future. At least that would be more honest.”

  Read related coverage:

  UK Christian Couple who Refuse to Promote Homosexuality Forced out of Child Foster Care

  Christian Couple no Longer Required to Promote Homosexuality in Fostering Children