The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Alberta Child and Family Services considers “the couple’s religious beliefs regarding sexuality to be a rejection of children with LGBT sexual identities”.
A Canadian couple from Edmonton, has filed a court application through the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms against Alberta Child and Family Services, because their application to adopt children was denied due to their religious beliefs about marriage and sexuality.
The couple are evangelical Christians, have no children of their own and are currently unable to conceive due to medical complications.
One of them has publicly expressed that she was keen to adopt older children “who I know are unlikely to ever get adopted because of their age. I want to offer kids like these a home and show them that they are valued”.
FIRST POSITIVE RECOMMENDATION
On October 7, 2016, they submitted their application to adopt, and the Social Services in Edmonton, after considering applicants’ financial, emotional and social stability, recommended that the couple be approved for adoption, and supplied this recommendation to Alberta Child and Family Services.
In March, the Social Services advised the couple that Child and Family Services had further questions in regard to the “couple’s beliefs regarding sexuality”.
During the interview, they reiterated their commitment to treating any child in their care “with unconditional love, respect, and compassion regardless of what the child chose to do, and regardless of the child’s sexual orientation or behaviour”.
“UNABLE TO HELP CHILDREN WITH SEXUAL IDENTITY ISSUES”
One week later, Social Services advised the couple that it was reversing its recommendation, because they “would be unable to help a child who has sexual identity issues”. The couple asked Social Services to reconsider their decision, but were refused.
On May 3rd, two Child and Family Services staff informed them that they had denied the couples’ application to adopt, explaining that Child and Family Services also considered their religious beliefs regarding sexuality to be a “rejection of children with LGBT sexual identities”.
They added that this stance was the “official position of the Alberta government”, so that the denial of their application was final.
“IT VIOLATES RELIGIOUS FREEDOM”
The Justice Centre president, John Carpay, pointed out that “making determinations about who is suitable to adopt on the basis of their sincere religious beliefs violates this couple’s right to religious freedom and equality under the law, as guaranteed in the Charterand in Alberta’s own Bill of Rights and Human Rights Act.”
“If left to stand, this decision would have grave consequences for the freedoms of all Canadians, not to mention adverse consequences for the many children who will never be adopted if the government continues with this discrimination”, Carpay added.
The Justice Centre’s court application seeks judicial review of the decision of Child and Family Services to deny the adoption, in order to get a court order to approve the couple as adoptive parents.