Saturday, January 27, 2007

Thoughts on the gay adoption row by a "long-suffering Anglican"

I am delighted to see that Alex Wilcock is on exceptionally good form at the moment, particularly on the subject of religion and equality. I cheerfully accept his description of me as a "long-suffering Anglican". In fact, I rather like it!

In case I overdid making my previous posting on this subject "Vicar-proof" (able to be read by my local vicar without spoiling his tea), I would reiterate that I fully support the "Sexual Orientation Regulations" going through at the moment - unamended. I do not support any form of opt-out for religious groups either related to adoption or bed and breakfast accommodation or anything else. I would support some form of tapered phase-in of these regulations, but only over a matter of months. I do, however, have great sympathy for the Roman Catholic brethren, as they struggle through this one.

I was and am a passionate supporter of openly gay Very Rev. Dr. Jeffrey John, now (I am very pleased to say) Anglican Dean of St Albans. I wrote letters of support for his elevation to Bishop of Reading to him, the Bishop of Oxford (at the time, Richard Harries), my local priest, my local newspaper and the Daily Telegraph (both published). Rather quietly, Dr John entered into a civil partnership with his long-term partner last August.

You might wonder then, why am I still an Anglican? Good question. Well, I tend to separate "faith", which is God-made, from "religion", which is man-made. I also define the "church" as the people who follow Christ, not the buildings and/or apparatus of the establishment of the church. (I would like to see the Church of England dis-established.) But I am mainly still an Anglican because I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, first and foremost. Try as I might, I can find not a single recorded utterance from Jesus that would lead me and my church to be anything than totally open, loving and outstandingly compassionate and treat with utter equality everybody including gays and lesbians. There are so many examples in the gospels of Jesus treating the down-trodden in life with outstanding love, that it is just mind-blowing. There are, of course, many "down-trodden" groups in society today, but one of the first that springs to mind, without intending to be patronising, are gays and lesbians.

Throughout the Jeffrey John "controversy", I read and heard descriptions that the Church of England was in "turmoil". In fact, nothing could be further from the case in the down-to-earth community of the church. We carried on virtually unaffected. And quite rightly so.

As I said at the time, there is no nicer place in the world to have a disagreement with someone than in the Church of England. So "long-suffering Anglican" it is and will continue to be, then!

By the way, David Cameron has been very quiet on the subject of gay adoption, as reported by The Daily.


  1. Statistics available from America show that child abuse by "homosexual" foster parents is 20 times more likely than by "straight" foster parents.

    Hasn't the promotion of gay and lesbian lifestyles as being equal to traditional values gone far enough? Do we have to endanger the vulnerable young in the name of equality as well?

  2. Arthur! Great to hear from you.

    Could you point me to the source of that statistic? I have been unable to find it on Google.

    In fact, the Adoption and Children Act was passed by Parliament in 2002 which allowed unmarried and same sex couples to apply to adopt children. It's been in effect in Scotland for two years and England/Wales for one year. So adoption by same-sex couples is nothing new.

    The adoption agencies are there to decide the best home for the children. The new regulations are simply about ensuring that they consider all the options in an equal way - they still have the judgement open to them to decide which is the best home.

    Felicity Collier for British Association for Adoption and Fostering said: 'If we restrict joint adoption to married couples we can only reduce the opportunity for children to find adoptive parents and there is a already a shortage of adopters for many groups of children.'

    So it would seem that the leading charity involved in adoption and fostering thinks it is a good move to open up the field of people able to adopt.

  3. Paul, good of you to respond again!

    Accurate information regarding 'equality' issues is a bit difficult to come by these days, but the US Family Research Institute (FRI) has the figures from Illinois for 1997-2002.

    The FRI is considered "anti-gay", but the figures come direct from Child Services.

    Find them at and follow the "Special Reports" link.

    As for the leading charity wanting to "open up the field", this is simply because they can't find enough couples wanting to foster/adopt the children available.

    Isn't this just "quantity rather than quality" with equality being used to justify it?

  4. Arthur

    Thanks for that link. Reading through the report, all would not seem to be as assumed. It says: "Marital status of parent perpetrators is not recorded in Illinois". So the report is comparing "homosexual" molestation of foster children with "hetrosexual" molestation. The former could well include men in a partnership or marriage with a woman molesting boys in their care and/or women in a partnership or marriage with a man molesting a girl in their care. As I say, the report presents no data on the marital status of the perpetrators.

    It seems sensible to leave adoption agencies to judge the best homes for children. I know of some gay/lesbian partners who would provide very stable, safe and loving homes for children. I know of some who would not provide the same, just as there are hetrosexual couples I know of who would provide good homes and some who would provide bad homes for children.

  5. Paul

    I only mentioned "straight" (not marital status), but I do tend to agree with your last paragraph and basically let the experts decide.

    However, the statistics do suggest closer inspection of homosexual couples is required and I doubt comparable statistics will become available here to help decide if the decision was right.

    On the issue of the Church, I think there are enough adoption agencies open to gay/homosexual couples so there is little need to bring the full weight of the law down to bear on those with a moral conscience. It just creates resentment all round.

  6. I think equality laws have to be applied across the board, otherwise they defeat the object of themselves. Giving the Catholic adoption agencies 21 months to adjust is very generous and hardly equates to bringing the law down on them like a ton of bricks. You mention the "church" but it is a much narrower issue than that - just the Catholic agencies. All the adoption agencies aligned with the other Christian denominations, including the Anglican church, have no problem with these new regulations and I think we agree they have moral consciences as well. We read the same Bible.