By Hilary White
BRIGHTON, UK, February 9, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A UK Christian nursing care home that had been threatened with loss of funding for having the wrong opinions about homosexuality, has had its grant restored. The Brighton & Hove city council backed down as Pilgrim Homes, the 200-year-old Christian charity that runs the home in question, as well as nine others, was preparing for legal action for religious discrimination.
In early January, it was revealed that the city council had revoked a £13,000 (Cn. $23,652.96) grant to Pilgrim Home in Egremont Place, Brighton, after elderly residents, some of whom are retired Christian missionaries, had refused to answer questions about their “sexual orientation,” saying the questions were “intrusive.” The residents were branded as being “closed to the gay community” by the council, and the home was accused of being guilty of “institutionalised homophobia.”
Andrew Jessop, chief executive of the charity, which has 10 Christian homes across the UK, said he was “delighted” that the council had backed down. “We are a Christian organisation for older Christians,” he said, “and our chief concern has always been to protect their best interests.”
“When they come into residential care or even sheltered housing they deserve the peace, comfort and security of an organisation that supports their dearly-held religious beliefs. We do not think our Brighton home – and others like it – should be denied access to public funding just because of those beliefs.”
The council claimed that it had been acting according to the requirements of the Labour government’s Equality legislation and Sexual Orientation Regulations.
The questionnaire that led to the controversy, which is issued to residents four times a year, asked them to reveal whether they were “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or unsure” of their sexuality. The council also had plans to invite the homosexualist activist organisation Stonewall to make a presentation at the home and had instructed the charity to include depictions of homosexuals in its promotional literature.
The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said, “Elderly Christians shouldn’t be penalised just because of their religious beliefs. Christians pay their taxes too and they should have equal access to public grants without being required to drop their Christian ethos. I hope other councils take note.”
He added, “There have been a number of recent cases where Christians are being treated less favourably than others. Nurses, grandparents, firemen, registrars, adoption agencies, care homes are all finding themselves in the firing line for nothing more than hold (sic) the same harmless beliefs that Christians have had for 2,000 years.”
An editorial in the Daily Telegraph said that this was a case in which the concept of “respect” for homosexuality was being used to suppress the expression of religious, particularly Christian, ideas.
“Religious toleration is the cornerstone of every free society, and of course it is right that faiths other than Christianity should be treated respectfully. But toleration must not become an excuse for the persecution of Christianity – which, it should not be forgotten, is still the official state religion of this country.”
“How many other cases of such stupid, blinkered and pointless ‘regulation’ are there? No one knows, but the anecdotal evidence from homes and individuals that have faced aggressively punitive action from the authorities merely for demonstrating their Christian convictions suggests that the number is far from small.”
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Funding Cut for U.K. Christian Care Home Accused of “Institutionalised Homophobia”