Crazy Christian Couple Back Down

11 11 2007

Remember the Christian couple who hid behind their beliefs rather than admit that it was their own bigotry that prevented them from signing an Equality policy? Well it seems that they’ve now signed the agreement. Although you wouldn’t know it from the press coverage. Take for example whose headline reported “Victory for couple whose foster boy was taken away after they refused to promote Gay relationships”.

You’d assume from that that it was the council that backed down. Yet, reading on:

Somerset County Council said the couple had now signed its “equalities promise” contact but emphasised it did not expect the Mathericks to promote homosexuality.

So quite what “victory” was won I don’t know. That they don’t have to promote homosexuality? They were never required to! As I stated in my article on the topic the law simply required them to promote equality on the grounds of sexuality. There is a very big difference. The media stated fallacies like “they would be required to discuss same-sex relationships with children as young as 11” rather than the truth which is that the law simply required that if they were asked about it they would discuss homosexuality as equally as they would discuss heterosexuality.

I was particularly disappointed with how the BBC, of all people, reported this. The headline shouts “Council reverse in equality row” yet the only “reverse” I saw was by the Mathericks. There was no “new decision” as proclaimed by the caption below the photograph, nor have the Council changed their position on the situation. The couple faced deregistration if they did not comply with the new legislation. Although they initially decided to stop fostering rather than complying, they have now complied. The whole thing stems from the misunderstanding of the term “promote homosexuality”, but rather than admit that the media, and of course the Mathericks, would rather blame the Council and make it seem like their error. You expect that sort of behaviour from tabloids like the Daily Mail or Evening Standard but not the BBC.

The Times actually showed more class, although the headline “Gay row foster parents win right not to promote homosexuality” is still misleading. The right was always theirs, they simply misunderstood the requirements they were being put under. Not only does the Times actually begin with the one true statement that seems to be missing from the other reports (that they’ve signed the very same agreement they were always required to) but they go on to show that this whole row erupted from an erroneous impression:

The couple, committed Christians and foster carers to 28 children since 2001, had gained the impression that the contract would force them to promote homosexuality as a lifestyle, which they said they could not do on grounds of conscience.

Of course if the mainstream media misreported the story it’s unsurprising that Christian media have jumped on this as a “victory” for Christians everywhere. Let me say I am not disparaging Christians here (lest we forget I defended faith against secularism recently), simply those who hide behind their faith as an excuse to be homophobic.

With twisted reporting like “Christian foster parents no longer forced to promote homosexuality” it’s not really surprising. Of course the truth was that they were not “forced” to do anything, they were simply asked to adhere to the rules set if they wished to continue as foster parents. These rules did not require promoting homosexuality, which amazingly enough would be obvious to anyone reading this paragraph:

Earlier this year they were asked to agree to a new Equality policy which would require them to say that homosexual relationships were equal to heterosexual marriages if asked by a child about such relationships.

Quite what’s wrong with this requirement I don’t know. All the law is trying to ensure is that if a child is curious about their own sexuality and asks about it they’re not made to feel like there is something wrong with them. Given how many homosexual teenagers are subjected to homphobic abuse by their own parents, and how many of these end up needing therapy or worse yet actually end up killing themselves I can’t see how this is a bad thing. Of course the media won’t report it that way because that wouldn’t be anywhere near sensationalist enough to sell newspapers. I found this particularly funny:

Mr Matherick explained that he and his wife had never discriminated against anybody, but that they would not teach children about the practice of homosexuality because the Bible condemns any kind of sexual practice outside of a marital relationship.

I’m sure the last statement made by Mr Matherick was that the Bible condemns homosexuality, no mention of “marital relationship”. Of course the fact that Civil Unions are simply a marriage by another name means that that argument does not even apply anymore. Marriage is a secular institution anyway, it existed long before Christianity was born. Like so many other pagan rituals (Christmas, for example), it was co-opted by Christians in order to get more heathens to convert. In yet another attempt to spin this into something it was not we heard from a lawyer:

Andrea Williams of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship commented, “This is a significant step forward for Christian freedoms in that the Council has agreed not to force Mr and Mrs Matherick to act against their Christian beliefs.

Nevermind that the Council had never asked them to do any such thing. According to the council, as we saw above, the couple have signed the agreement they were required to, yet we read how “the couple…secured an agreement which will allow their personal convictions…to be recognised”. All that it seems to me that they “secured” was confirmation that they’d misunderstood the law. My personal theory is that, as a response to the growing calls for secularism in society, they felt this was a perfect vehicle with which launch a PR campaign defending their faith (at their son’s expense).

What’s ironic is that the same Daily Mail readers defending the Mathericks are equally adamant about faith symbols being banned in school. The common thread to me between both, as far as I can see, is intolerance. Why have we become a society so hellbent on defending intolerance post 9/11? One would think an event like that, caused, as it was, by intolerance (both genuine intolerance by Islamic fundamentalists and perceived intolerance used to indoctrinate young men to their cause), would spur us on to reconcile our differences and realise that beneath it all we’re a lot more similar that perhaps we’d like to believe. Will we wipe each other out before we realise it?



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