The erosion of freedom in Great Britain continued yesterday when the High Court ruled against a Christian couple (why do they always come in couples?) who were seeking to become foster carers.
Owen and Eunice Johns, who are both in their '60s, put in an application to Derby City Council to become carers. They later withdrew their application after it became clear they would not be accepted because the social worker dealing with them was less than impressed with their opposition to homosexuality. They later took their case to the High Court.
The Johns, who belong to a Pentecostal church, say they have "mainstream Christians views" on the subject of homosexuality and deny claims that they are "homophobic" and say that all they wanted was to "offer a loving home to a child in need".
The judges in the case however ruled that the rights of homosexuals not to be discriminated against "should take precedence" over the rights of religious believers not to be discriminated against. More startling still was the claim by the Equality and Human Rights Commission that any child put into the care of the Johns would be "infected" by their Christian beliefs.
Meanwhile Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of Stonewall, said, "Thankfully, Mr and Mrs Johns's out-dated views aren't just out of step with the majority of people in modern Britain but those of many Christians too. If you wish to be involved in the delivery of a public service, you should be prepared to provide it fairly to anyone."
One would have thought from this kind of language that the Johns were part of a strange anti-homosexual, Fred Phelps style cult, that would beat any homosexually inclined child put in their care or try an exorcism on them or something equally ludicrous.
If this were the case one might say that the High Court, the EHRC and Stonewall have a point that any child, whether inclined towards heterosexuality or homosexuality, might be better off not being put in the care of such people.
However the Johns, by all accounts, are no such couple. They previously served as foster carers for 15 children and were seeking only to resume the role after taking a break from fostering. If they really were foam flecked maniacs with an unhealthy obsession with homosexuality it no doubt would have been revealed through their work with previous children. No such history has been produced, quite the reverse in fact.
What is worrying about this case is that the objection to the Johns was not that they might promote traditional Christian teaching on sexuality, but that they refused to promote the ideology and beliefs of the secular faith which seems to have become a fad among British judges.
The Johns said that while they would be willing to take a child from any background they would not be willing to tell that child that a homosexual lifestyle is acceptable.
They did not say that they would refuse to take a homosexually inclined child, which makes one wonder how they are discriminating in the "delivery of a public service" as Mr Summerskill claims. Nor did they say that they would feel compelled to teach that homosexuality is a sin to that child, as the disgusting claim that the child would be "infected" by Christian teaching implys.
No the big problem is that the Johns don't want to say something they do not believe in. That is what is truly worrying about this decision. What it says is that if you want to be part of society, or come to that contribute to David Cameron's Big Society (which surely must include the honourable vocation of being a foster carer) then one cannot just keep one's opinion's to oneself but one must actively promote the liberal ideology of the state known as "Equality and Diversity", whether you agree with it or not. Such a state of affairs is dangerously close to a totalitarian system in which there can be no independence of mind, no pluralism, no equality or tolerance for those who hold different views and no freedom to say what one really thinks (that is if one wants to keep ones job).
For years homosexuals in this country faced nothing short of persecution for their lifestyle. Perhaps the best known instance is that of Alan Turing, who helped crack the enigma code in World War Two and was one of the fathers of the modern computer. The disgraceful treatment he (and others) received is nothing less than a shame on the country's past.
Now however a number of those who previously would have had to hide their sexuality are doing their very best to visit similar inhumane treatment on people who increasingly must hide their religious or moral beliefs just to be a part of society.
Stonewall and Mr Summerskill do seem to be keen on being part of this new soft totalitarianism. On their webpage Stonewall makes a big play about how it is working for "equality". If this were so one would assume his organisation would oppose a ruling that says one group of people's rights "should take precedence" over another's. If Stonewall want to back this ruling they can, but they should not have the cheek to call it equality and certainly they should not dare call it tolerance.
Incidentally Stonewall were also the group behind an advertising campaign which featured poster's with the words "Some people are gay. Get over it!" The message, if a little aggressive, is essentially a good one in that it says we should tolerate one another. Wouldn't it be interesting however if someone deiced to launch a campaign with posters declaring "Some people are Christian. Get over it!" Would those at the Stonewall and the EHRC be able to get over it? On present form it seems unlikely.