Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Foster mother struck off the council’s register because a Muslim girl in her care became a Christian

Posted by faithandthelaw on March 20, 2010

A foster mother, who has looked after more than 80 children in the past ten years with an unblemished record, has been struck off the register because a Muslim girl in her care became Christian. The reasons given by her local council were that she failed in her duty to preserve the girl’s religion and to prevent the teenager from getting baptised, even though the girl was 16 and had made up her own mind to change religion. The woman has also been forced to move out of her home. She has lost the farmhouse she rented due to the loss of income from fostering.

 The woman carer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is in her 50’s and is a practising Christian. She said that she had put no pressure on the girl, who was baptised last year at the age of 16 and even tried to discourage the girl’s initial interest.

 The girl is now 17. She had been taken into care after being assaulted by a family member. She decided to be baptised because she saw it ‘as a washing away of the horrible things she had been through and a symbol of a new start’, the foster mother said. ‘I offered her alternatives. I offered to find her places to practise her own religion. I offered to take her to friends or family. But she said to me from the word go: “I am interested and I want to come [to church]”. She sort of burst in’, the woman added.

 It is a well-known fact that repudiation of Islam is strongly condemned in the Qur’an and is considered taboo in Muslim communities.

The woman claims that the council’s social services knew that the girl was attending her church, and council chiefs only objected when they became aware that she had been baptised. Social services officials then advised the girl to reconsider her decision and urged her to stop attending Christian meetings, ruling last April that the girl should stay away from church for six months. In November they struck the carer off their register, claiming she had breached her duty of care as a foster parent. 

Nigel Priestley, a solicitor representing the carer, said that the social services ‘consider that in some way she should have taken steps to prevent the conversion. There is no doubt that the event that provoked the council was the decision by the girl to be baptised. This girl was 16 and has the right to make this choice, so for the council to react in this way is totally disproportionate’. He is seeking a judicial review of the council’s decision and claims that the council has breached Article 9 of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees freedom of religion for both the carer and the girl. He said that the teenager is now back home with her parents and is fully supportive of her former carer. 

The decision of the council, which is located in the North of England and cannot be identified, has increased concerns that Christians are becoming victims of discrimination in Britain. This follows the case of Caroline Petrie, the nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for a patient, but was subsequently reinstated.

Courtesy of http://www.christianlegalcentre.org/view.php?id=685

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