By Hilary White
CHARD, Somerset, UK, October 29, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Vincent and Pauline Matherick, the Christian couple who retired from fostering needy children to avoid a government requirement to promote homosexuality, were the victims of a “misunderstanding” says Somerset social services.
After national news coverage in the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail in Britain and international coverage by LifeSiteNews.com which included their telephone number and email address, Somerset Council has changed gears.
The Daily Mail carried comments this weekend from Linda Barnett, head of Somerset County Council’s children’s social care saying there had been an unfortunate “misunderstanding” between the Mathericks and their social worker. The comments also followed the Council’s receipt of a legal letter warning of possible further action against social services.
“We do not and would never ask foster carers to promote homosexuality,” Barnett said. “What we ask for is no different from any other authority, in that we ask carers not to discriminate against a child on the basis of race, gender, background, religion, accent or sexuality, among other things.”
“The Mathericks,” Barnett said, “were very good foster carers and so I have invited them to meet me next week to see if we can reach some kind of agreement, so they can continue to work with us.”
The Somerset couple told media they had been interviewed by Somerset Council social workers and told that under the new Sexual Orientation Regulations they would have to support any interest a foster child might express in homosexuality.
“They were saying that we had to be prepared to talk about sexuality with 11 year-olds, which I don’t think is appropriate anyway, but not only that to be prepared to explain how gay people date,” Vincent Matherick told the Telegraph.
The Mathericks had asked social services if David, the 11 year-old boy who they were currently caring for, could remain in their home until a suitable permanent arrangement could be found. Social services refused and the child was removed at the end of last week to a care facility owned by the Council.
Barnett told the Daily Mail, “Every decision we make is with the best interests of the child at the forefront.” David will be allowed to stay in touch with the Mathericks and has asked social services for permission to continue attending Sunday school.
Vincent Matherick told the Daily Mail, “We were told that failure to accept same-sex relationships could be seen as homophobia.” The issue has taken the British press by storm and editorials have decried the increase of “political correctness” and homosexuality as a wedge to force Christians out of public service.
Mr. Matherick said, “We made it quite clear that we could not promote homosexuality but would be quite prepared to refer the matter back to social services if a child ever brought the issue up.” The Mathericks have fostered only primary age children in recent years.
“Afterwards, the social worker told us the panel would never approve us to continue as foster parents if we held such views. We were stunned.” The couple said they had received many phone calls and emails from supporters around the world.
Read previous LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
UK Christian Couple who Refuse to Promote Homosexuality Forced out of Child Foster Care