Complaint from National Secular Society threatens closure of Scottish Catholic adoption agency

A complaint from the National Secular Society to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has resulted in the Catholic adoption agency, the St Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society, being threatened with the withdrawal of it charity status, and closure.

The National Secular Society, led by Terry Sanderson and Keith Porteous Wood, two homosexuals who are in a ‘civil partnership’, complained that St Margaret’s Children and Family Care Society preferred criteria was to place children with couples who had been married for at least two years.

The National Secular Society complained that the Catholic adoptions agencies preference for married couples to adopt amounted to discrimination against homosexual persons. The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator upheld the National Secular Societies complaint dismissing positions taken by St Margaret’s that its criteria reflected the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator gave the following reasons from dismissing the moral teachings of the Catholic Church:

‘We agree with the charity that its purposes bring it potentially within the scope of the exception, since one of its purposes is to enable persons sharing the Catholic faith to receive benefits and engage in activities within the framework of that belief. We also accept the charity’s view that the preferred criteria comply with the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

However, whilst the religious exception may apply where organisations are conducting activities such as acts of worship or devotion, it is unlikely that it will apply where a religious organisation is providing services to the public or carrying out functions of a public nature. In terms of the relevant case law, religious belief by itself cannot justify discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation when an organisation is providing a public facing service, such as the provision of a voluntary adoption agency, which is the charity’s function in terms of adoption
law.

Our view therefore is that given the nature of the public facing service provided
by the charity they cannot rely upon the religious exception to justify their use of
the preferred criteria in respect of sexual orientation.’

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator also found that the Catholic adoption agency discriminated against other religions because its preferred criteria was to place Catholic children with Catholic parents:

‘…on the face of it, the less favourable treatment which the charity’s guidelines suggest it gives couples who do not wish to adopt within the Roman Catholic faith (as opposed to Roman Catholic couples or those wishing to adopt within the framework of that faith) amounts to direct discrimination on the basis of religion.’

A spokesman for the National Secular Society stated that he hoped that the Catholic charity would not fight the decision of the Regulator, following the example of those ‘Catholic’ charities that compromised Catholic teaching by accepting homosexual persons to adopt Catholic children:

‘”If St Margaret’s wishes to continue to provide services, it must remove these provisions from its constitution – this will be in the children’s best interests. In England, some of the Catholic agencies complied and are now providing their services to everyone without prejudice. Those doing so have generally been faced with the Catholic Church heartlessly withdrawing its co-operation and forcing them to break their link with the Church. Other agencies felt that they could not comply and have closed.

“We hope that St Margaret’s will continue to fulfil its valuable role, even if it has to sever its connection with the Catholic Church. We certainly hope it will not take the same route as Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) which pursued a long, expensive and, in the end, fruitless appeal with the Charity Commission. The charity’s funds can be better spent in the interests of children than being wasted in legal fees to delay the inevitable.”

Protect the Pope comment: This is the reality of life for Catholics in the 21st century in this country, that a militant secularist group led by a gay couple has the power to close down a Catholic charity that has been placing children with married Catholic couples since 1955.

That the National Secular Society can point to the example of Catholic charities in England that compromised over the Church’s moral teaching about the immorality of placing Catholic children with gay ‘couples’ is a disgrace.

And David Cameron expects the Catholics of England and Wales to believe his empty re-assurances that his quadruple lock will protect the Catholic Church from being hounded by homosexuals such as Sanderson and Porteous Wood taking legal action in an attempt to force us to conduct same-sex marriages? The National Secular Society is forever going to the European Court of Human Rights to remove our religious freedoms, seen recently with Porteous-Wood crowing to the BBC about Christians losing their cases about freedom of conscience. It is certain that in a few years time our dioceses will be threatened with the loss of their charitable status for discriminating against same-sex couples.

 

http://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2013/01/scottish-catholic-adoption-agency-ordered-to-comply-with-equality-law

http://www.oscr.org.uk/media/381590/2013-01-22_st_margaret_s_s33_report.pdf

43 comments to Complaint from National Secular Society threatens closure of Scottish Catholic adoption agency

  • Joseph Matthew

    Am I,to paraphrase the Tablet, ” developing an atmosphere of paranoia” or is the the National Secular Society out to destroy the mission of the Church by slamming the homosexual rights agenda on us at every turn ?

  • Rifleman819

    These two happy buccaneers are also about to complain to the Scottish Authorities about “Alhambra” Muslim child adoption societies of West Kelvinside for exactly the same reasons.

    Whoops ! I invented that bit …’cos oor brave duvet sharers wouldnae have the balls…………..at least not for long.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    This is a very disappointing development and shows once again the anti-religious bias of the Scottish Charity Commission. I would be very interested to read any comments that Neil Addison might have on this development and whether it affects the argument he put forward in last week’s Catholic Herald.

  • Frances

    Does it have to remain a ‘public facing service’? Can it become part of the Church’s Justice and Peace work (or other commission)or a Catholic private members club?

  • Christopher

    Oddly enough, they say it’s in the child’s best interests. They’re pretty much using children as political pawns for their own agenda.

    God Bless.

    • ms Catholic state

      That is exactly what they are doing…using children. They have no concern for the welfare of children at all. Their evil ideologies and twisted hatred for Christianity comes first.

      The Church must fight them tooth and nail….and she will be surprised the level of support she will get from the public. It is the authority figures mainly that are out of step with natural law and common decencey….and it is up to us to challenge and oust them.

  • Simon Whyte

    Another example of the National Secular Society’s attempt to abolish religion in any form, they are pursuing their very own discriminatory agenda against the Catholic Church. They demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of faith and religion, it is not a club where you can pick or choose what to believe or what moral guidelines to follow, there cannot be a compromise on issues such as placing catholic children with homosexual parents. I completely agree with the authors comment, Porteus Wood and Sanderson will be the first couple at the door of their local Catholic Church demanding to be married and taking their case to he courts when they don’t get their way. It’s a slippery slope and unless politicians begin to develop moral backbone and defend the intrinsic religious and moral freedoms of individuals in this country the Secularists will have their way with heir bullying tactics and continue to discriminate against people who have a faith.

  • David

    But I think the regulator said the law applies to ALL charities in the UK, not just Catholic affiliated charities.

  • @ Nicolas

    Neil Addison expresses his ‘surprise’ at the ruling in the Catholic Herald report http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/01/24/catholic-charities-at-risk-after-adoption-agency-ruled-to-be-discriminating/

    I assume that means he thinks there’s a good chance of success in trying to overturn the decision. I hope that’s true.

    • Nicolas Bellord

      I am very glad that the excellent Neil Addison is on to this. It strikes me that the Scottish Charity regulators are attempting to legislate themselves when they interpret s.193 of the Equality Act 2010 as only applying to devotion and worship and nothing else. I wonder what support they think they have for such an interpretation. There is nothing in the section which supports that interpretation as it seems very widely drawn expressly permitting discrimination on the grounds of sex but not of colour. They are way out of bounds.

      • Nicolas Bellord

        Curiously though I see from my County Council flyer that the County Council discriminates on the grounds of colour when seeking foster parents. I have no problem with that.

  • Sian

    Perhaps it’s time the Church made a stand and funded its adoption agencies itself. If the State wants to use charitable status to impose its agenda, reject the charitable status and tell the government what it can do with its equalities legislation. Equally, I believe that the National Secular Society receives state funding – how many Catholics does it employ? None? It is forbidden by the same legislation to discriminate on the grounds of religious belief. Take the battle to them, rather than sitting back and bemoaning what will be the inevitable if we don’t get off our posteriors.

    • Haslam

      The NSS does not receive state funding, nor is it a charity. It is however forbidden from discrimination on the grounds of religious belief as is every other organisation in the country.

  • Lynda

    For an adoption agency to give a child into the care of two men or two women engaging in sexual relationship with each other is child abuse and cruelty of the worst kind – there are not words to describe the evil of forcing an innocent helpless innocent into such a harmful situation for all of his childhood. When I think of someone doing that to my own child …! I would kill to defend my son from such deliberate cruelty. We have a moral duty to protect all children from this abuse; we shall all pay dearly for not doing so.

  • Robin Leslie

    Of course the converse could be said that the Courts are discriminating against Catholic institutions or in favour of homosexuals/lesbians. This entire equality agenda is riddled with contradictions for it bypasses questions about the good and ultimately of the Common Good, there is a presupposition behind the drive against ‘exclusion’ that no group should be excluded from any collective (or even private) practice. This is already leading to fifth columnists within
    religious traditions disintegrating essential practices and short-circuiting the collective memory of the tradition so that its transmission becomes impaired!

  • Haslam

    We have to be careful here in constructing our arguments.

    If we are saying that it is OK for this Charity (which is largely funded by public money) to discriminate against non-Catholics then that is fine, but it weakens our argument when we complain, as many of us have, about a non-Catholic adoption charity discriminating against Catholics.

    We need to learn to frame our arguments in universally applicable terms. Our failure to do this makes it very easy to write us off as people asking for special privileges. We either decide that discrimination on religious grounds is bad which means that as well as campaigning against it we have to stop doing it ourselves, or we accept that discriminarion on religious grounds is acceptable in which case we surender the right to complain when it is us who are descriminated agsinst. At the moment the Church is trying to have its cake and eat. We can’t argue that religious discrimination is wrong unless it is done by Catholics and then expect to be taken seriously (and the sad truth is that we are nolonger taken seriously)

    • Nicolas Bellord

      Haslam: You confuse me. The issue is not about discriminating against non-Catholics but discriminating against people who are not married on the grounds that a married man and wife are the better environment for a child being adopted.

      • Haslam

        As I understand it the Charity gives priority to Catholic couples who wish to adopt versus non-Catholic couples who wish to adopt. At least that is what I get from this report http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/adoption-agency-backed-by-catholic-church-discriminates-against-same-sex-couples-regulator-rules.1358966301 I can just imagine the complaints if a secular adoption agency gave priority to non-Catholic couples over catholic couples.

        • Nicolas Bellord

          The objects of the charity according to the OSCR are:

          The Society is established to promote (irrespective of creed) the welfare of children, whose interests are paramount, to foster the stability of family relationships and to assess the suitability of applicants as adoptive parents, all in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

          The full report can be found at:

          http://www.oscr.org.uk/media/381590/2013-01-22_st_margaret_s_s33_report.pdf

          It seems me that the principal objection was discriminating against same-sex couples. The evidence that they discriminated against non-Catholics appears to be “limited” in the reports words. On the whole it is a thoroughly tendentious report going way beyond what a regulator should be doing – they are effectively pretending to substitute their own management for that of the Charity. It is a principal of Charity Law that a regulator should not micro-manage a charity. The implications for Catholic Charities generally would be very serious if this report was to be upheld or taken as a model in respect of other Charities.

          • Bill

            The Society is established to promote (irrespective of creed) the welfare of children, whose interests are paramount, to foster the stability of family relationships and to assess the suitability of applicants as adoptive parents, all in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

            Excuse my ignorance, but does the above quote mean that the charity will accept children of any creed, but then, only place them with catholic parents ? Leaving aside the homosexual issue, surely, the fact that the charity wouldn’t place them with a perfectly suitable, non catholic hetrosexual married couple, amounts to a pretty blatant form of state sponsored discrimination.

  • Deacon David Skillen

    There is a basic principle in all these absurd situations which our society is utterly missing, and intend is getting so bogged down in: If our society is intending to tolerate one and all, and if it is seeking to create equality for one and all (ie. with the determination to enable gay couples to marry, adopt, etc…) then it is logical, at the same time, to allow people, who for religious reasons can not, in conscience, place children within a gay couple home, to have the freedom to not do so! There are plenty of other adoption agencies who will place children within gay couple homes so there is no problem (common sense should prevail)! If we are a pluralist, open and tolerant society, which we seem to be, then Catholics and others, must also be allowed to live according to their religious and moral codes as well! It too often seems (and more and more) that the ones who are really discriminated against are Christians (especially Catholics…this is unjust, although no surprise at all to me, after all the Lord Himself told us to expect it)! Very sad! I pray that the humantists and secularists folk will live in peace according to their personal convinctions; be happy and content, and leave we who have Christian faith, to do likewise – I am convinced the world would be a happier place in which we may co-exist!

    • Haslam

      I will certainly join you in your prayer. Thanks for a sensible post.

    • Christopher

      Except that will not happen, Christ did not come to bring peace but a sword. There will be conflict, always has been, and always will be.

      God Bless.

      • Haslam

        There will be conflict, but let’s not fuel it for its own sake.

        • Christopher

          Only the State is fuelling such conflict by imposing secular doctrines upon Catholic entities such as the aforementioned charity.

          God Bless.

        • Deacon David Skillen

          indeed, as Bl Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, the only way to repay hatred is with love! My greatest frustration and sigh is when ‘we’ engage happily in what amounts to tit-for-tat bickering…lets be honest, when we do this we only obscure the truth of the Lord’s sword; we make his message simply a human matter (one option among many). Rather let us be firm but ‘gentle of heart’ – always…even in the face of hatred and being mistrusted, misunderstood and misjudged. If we truly believe in Christ’a message and God’s unfailing power, what need we fear!

          • Christopher

            The single purpose of Catholic adoption agencies is rather simple, to grant a child a stable family in which the child can be brought up in a Catholic manner, so the said child can be watched over that he may be guided as to obtain Heaven. This is not merely a human matter, but a serious one concerning the fate of souls. To force a Catholic charity to forsake Truth is a serious assault, so as it is serious for one soul who co-operates in this act. This tit-for-tat bickering is necessary, afterall we are of the Church Militant, and also of the Church Triumphant.

            They may hate us, they may misjudge us, but we do not back down in the face of the adversary. For if we do not even defend and fight for the Truth, we will be judged accordingly.

            God Bless.

  • Neil Addison

    The threat by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) to remove the Charitable status of the St Margarets Adoption Agency is a disgraceful abuse of regulatory power which ignores the clear provisions of the Equality Act.

    Section 193 of the Act permits Charities to restrict their services in accordance with their constitution and that is all that St Margarets was doing. The ruling by OSCR that St Margarets cannot be a Charity if it restricts its services in accordance with s193 is a completely circular argument because only a Charity can take advantage of s193.

    Parliament passed the Equality Act including s193 and only Parliament has the right to change the act, not an unelected bureaucracy like OSCR. By its decision OSCR has in effect subverted the clear intentions of Parliament as expressed in s193 and it is to be hoped that the Scottish Government will offer financial support to St Margarets in the legal fight it is now faced with.

  • Simon

    I wonder if anyone would like to make a comment informed by catholic teaching about the state of the economy?

  • Amanda Peter

    Freedom of religious belief means I have to be able to ACT according to my belief and not be accused of discrimination. Our society has made new laws in contradiction to Christian moral teaching. Christians are being Forced to act against their moral convictions. This is tyranny. They are being forced to act, to aid and abet against their moral belief and deeply held convictions. They are slammed and accused of discrimination when they do not wish to aid and abet in something against their belief. What do you call this???

    • Haslam

      “Freedom of religious belief means I have to be able to ACT according to my belief and not be accused of discrimination.”

      Only half right. Freedom of religion means that you can act according to your belief, but noone has the right to be free of being accused of discrimination. If that were the case then you would be denying the rights of other citizens to act according to their conflicting beliefs when those conflicting beliefs lead them to criticise you.

  • Lynda

    This is not so much anti-Catholic as anti-child, anti the basic human right of every child to his mother and father, orif not possible, to a married couple who together take on the roles of his mother and father for the good of that child. Do we have to wait until many children’s lives are severely, probably irreparably damaged and they sue the State for wilful cruelty as adults?

    • Haslam

      A good argument, but already conceeded by adoption agencies (including Catholic ones) which have on occassion placed children with single parents.

  • Bob Hayes

    There is something rather hypocritical about the conduct for Messrs Porteous-Wood and Sanderson and the NSS. They want to push religion and religious belief into the sort of shadows in which homosexuals had to exist 25+ years ago. A ghetto in which it is best not to be open, expect to be ridiculed, expect to be surreptitiously barred from various occupations, expect state agencies to impose limitations on your conduct in public places and expect media stereotyping and negativity. Now, if consignment to this ghetto was wrong for homosexuals (and Terry Sanderson has written extensively and forcefully to this effect), why does he and the NSS seek to condemn religion and belief to that same type of ghetto?

  • Genty

    If I were a member of the NSS I’d start asking questions about how it has been transformed from an organisation with a fairly broad remit into a narrow homosexual-fixated lobby group.

    • (X)MCCLXIII

      I don’t think it would take you long to find the answer, Genty.

    • Haslam

      If I were a member of the RCC I’d start asking questions about how it has been transformed from an organisation with a fairly broad remit into a narrow homosexual-fixated lobby group.

      • Nicolas Bellord

        Haslam: I just wonder where you are coming from. At times you seem to be supportive of the Catholic Church and its teachings but then you come up with this remark about it being a narrow homosexual-fixated lobby group. Yes the Church has been speaking out on the problem of homosexuality but this is in response to extraordinarily aggressive lobbying by the extreme LGBT community which is attacking the Church daily.

        • Haslam

          I am supportive of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, but I am concerned that it is becoming obsessed with this issue at the cost to other more important issues and also its credibility. It is not surprising that the LGBT groups are obsessed with gay-issues but the Church has, or at least ought to have broader concerns. Some moral leadership on poverty, the problems in the NHS or of religious minorities being persecuted in the middle-east etc might help the Church regain some of its “moral capital” which was lost over the child-abuse problem and unless the Church regains its moral capital then noone outside the Church will take its seriously on gay marriage or anything else. It can be as authentic and as fearless in proclaiming the truth as it wants but that will not change anything because noone will be listening. To my mind that is a bigger issue. There was a time within my memory when the Church was respected as providing an important “moral and intellectual service” to mankind even by non-catholics. I remember my parents, both liberal-minded Methodists buying an LP of Pope JPII speeches when he visisted the UK. It is one of my earliest memories as a child and the first time I became aware of the RCC. They didn’t agree with him on everything, but they listened and respected his viewpoint and could see his holiness. Even Christopher Hitchens has written positively about the former Pope’s moral achievements and courage in helping defeat communism and his opposition to the death penalty (at one time he described himself as a “guarded admirer” which is in my view an achievement that the Church and the late Pope can take real pride in). I cannot imagine either of those things happening today with the current Pope and Church. And I think that a large part of this is that the Church has decided to make homosexuality central to its public outward facing persona even if those within know that it has much more to offer. The sad truth is that to those outside the Church DOES appear to be a narrow homosexuality fixated lobby group.

          Not suggesting that the Church should change its teachings, just that it might give itself a lesson in the phycology of pursausion and realise that unpopular opinions, like those the Church has on gay marriage, are better received from someone who is liked, trusted and respected and that the Church needs to regain that trust and stop wearing the fact that it is not-respected by the public at large as a badge of honour. We want a non-Catholic to think, “that Pope-bloke has said some sensible things about the crisis in Mali, maybe I’ll listen to what he said about gay marriage because he is obviously thoughtful, compassionate and intelligent”. That is the kind of thought process that brought me to the Church and I suspect it is a better way of evangelising than some alternatives.

          Anyway I hope that explains where I am coming from….

      • Spesalvi23

        Ever had a book called bible in your hand?

  • Micha Elyi

    [T]he religious exception… is unlikely [to] apply where a religious organisation is… carrying out functions of a public nature.
    –Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator

    I see where this is going.

    Marriage is a function of a public nature.

    And if adding to ones family by adoption is a function of a public nature, then soon enough the regulators will insist that adding to ones family by the more natural process is also such a function.

    The Scottish Enlightenment warned us against the Leviathan State.

    Wake up. Resist, or fall to today’s Scottish Endarkenment.

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