By Hilary White
CHARD, Somerset UK (LifeSiteNews.com, Nov. 2, 2007)- Vincent and Pauline Matherick are the Christian couple in Somerset who chose to retire from fostering needy children rather than bow to the Somerset county council’s demand that they promote the homosexual lifestyle. After a media-generated international uproar over their situation, they have been invited back by the council and have had their religious objections recognised.
The couple met with council officials on Wednesday and today were told they could continue fostering and would not have to “promote homosexuality”. “It’s good news and we’re very pleased,” Mr Matherick said. “This is a blessing and I must thank the media, and particularly the Daily Mail, for their help in highlighting the issue.”
Somerset council officials said in a statement that the couple “have no problem in signing Somerset’s Equalities Promise, which includes an expectation not to discriminate unfairly for reasons of sex, marital status, caring responsibilities or sexual orientation.” “We all agree that the welfare of children is paramount. It is absolutely vital that people come forward as foster carers.” The council’s statement admitted that the incident “may have damaged the image of fostering at a time when vulnerable children need caring homes.”
A spokesman for the couple said the council had agreed to recognise their convictions and conscientious objections. “The Mathericks hope now to continue to foster children as before.”
Andrea Williams of Christian Concern For Our Nation said: “This is a significant step forward for Christian freedoms in that the Council has agreed not to force Mr. and Mrs. Matherick to act against their Christian beliefs. This should be of enormous encouragement to all Christians who want to take up the important role of caring for vulnerable children.”
The Mathericks are ministers in the non-conformist South Chard Christian Church and when their 11 year-old foster son David was removed from their home, he had asked to be allowed to continue attending their Sunday school.
The Mathericks had insisted that they had never “discriminated” against anyone for any reason, but that they could not agree to the council’s “equality statement” because it amounted to promotion of homosexuality, which would be a violation of their Christian beliefs and conscience. Mr Matherick said, “I cannot preach the benefits of homosexuality when I believe it is against the word of God.” As a result of their decision, the council removed their 11 year-old foster son David and placed him in a council-owned facility. The Mathericks had cared for 28 children in their home since 2001 and were described as ideal foster carers.
The “equality” agreement had required them to tell their foster children that homosexuality was the equivalent to natural sexuality and to discuss “gay dating” practices with them. They had been told that they would be required to take children to homosexual support groups if the child “expressed an interest” in homosexuality.
The Somerset council refused to discuss the matter until the case became public in the national papers and internationally on LifeSiteNews.com.