A social worker told parents the chances of their son being adopted would be hindered if he were “christened into the Christian faith”.
The unnamed social worker from Kent, South East England, met with the birth parents and made the comments after they expressed their wish to have their son baptised. The father, who taped the conversation, complained, and the social worker admitted what she said at a later court hearing, The Telegraph reports.
At a private family court hearing in Chatham, Kent, Judge Richard Scarratt called the comments “regrettable”, and urged Kent County Council to hold an internal investigation into the social worker’s conduct.
Judge Scarratt said in his ruling: “She admitted … that she had informed the parents that a christening which they wanted might reduce the pool of possible adopters. She told the parents that it would hinder adoption if the child was christened into the Christian faith.”
“It is regrettable in my view that the social worker … had indeed acted as the parents stated she had,” he added.
Council officials had initially asked the social worker to make a decision about the baby’s future. Social services had intended to put the now 15-month-old up for adoption, but decided he could live with a relative, instead.
Judge Scarratt approved the baby’s move to a relative’s home, adding that his parents could stay in touch.
The judge also criticised the social worker for not making frequent visits to the parents when making her assessment. He added that despite the parents wanting to be part of the child’s life and for him to be raised by family, she appeared determined to have the child adopted out to strangers.
He said: “I am not remotely surprised that the parents felt, when the care plan was one of adoption outside of the birth family, that the social worker was gunning for adoption – if I might put it so crudely.”
Christian campaigners have said the social worker’s comments expose the discrimination experienced by Christians from welfare and healthcare professionals.
Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre Andrea Minichiello Williams said: “Sadly it is not the first time we have seen an underlying hostility towards Christianity from someone in a position of responsibility for vulnerable children. The judge was right to expose and challenge this and the matter should be fully investigated by the local authority.”
The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs Simon Calvert said: “The idea that associating a child with the Christian faith would somehow make him harder to adopt is so far from reality it is hard to believe any social worker would say it.
“Children looking for an adoptive family sometimes identify themselves as Christian and ask to be placed with a family that shares their faith. These children need understanding. No one should make them feel under pressure to hide or deny their faith in order to be adopted.”
This is not the first time social services in the UK have opposed Christians over the upbringing of children. In November, a Christian couple who raised objections to the children they were fostering being adopted by a gay couple were told they could not adopt the children themselves because of their “concerning” views.
In March of last year, an experienced family court magistrate was struck off for voicing his Christian-based belief that children are better off being adopted by a mother and father than by a same-sex couple.