There is a legal case about to take place in Australia that could set a very important precedent, not only there but around the world. Byron and Keira Hordyk are a young married couple with two children, aged 6 and 2. In January 2017, they applied to a foster care agency to become providers of temporary respite care for children aged 0 – 5. In Australia at the moment, there are over 45,000 children in out-of-home care, with the greatest need being in that 0-5 age bracket. Many of these children come from difficult and dangerous home situations, and foster care agencies are literally crying out for families to provide temporary respite care. Knowing all this, the Hordyks applied to become respite carers, in the hope that they could make a real difference in the lives of these at-risk children.
But Byron and Keira Hordyk are Christians. When the agency discovered this, they required the Hordyks to fill out a questionnaire on LGBTQ+ issues and undergo subsequent interviews to assess their attitudes. In their responses, the Hordyks were very clear that they didn’t think that their Christian faith would prove a problem for a 0 to 5-year-old child. They also pointed out that they didn’t believe that LGBTG issues would be a relevant issue for babies and toddlers under 5. They stated that they didn’t hate the LGBTQ community, had no bias against them as people, but that they (the Hordyks) simply chose to follow a different moral code based upon the Bible.
The foster care agency denied their request to become respite carers, stating that because of their Christian faith, the agency did not believe that they would be able to provide a “safe environment” for foster children. Yes, that’s right! Their loving Christian beliefs and practices would apparently create an “unsafe environment” for children needing respite from abusive and violent families! Apparently, the foster care agency would prefer to leave at-risk children in their abusive families or in institutional care rather than trust them to Christians.
The Hordyks were shocked and hurt by the decision. As time went on, they also became angry about it. And so they should! They decided to take the foster care agency to court. The agency responded by seeking to have the legal action squashed before it even got going, claiming that the Hordyk’s case against them was “baseless”. A preliminary hearing took recently place before the State Administrative Tribunal who found in favour of the Hordyks and giving permission for the court case to go ahead.
This was a small victory, but now the real battle begins. This looming court case really matters. It will set a precedent one way or another. If the Hordyks lose the case, it would effectively declare Christians to be unsuitable and unsafe candidates for foster care. It would also have even further possible ramifications for Christian parenting generally. If a court decides that Christians are unsuitable and unsafe as foster care parents, it is a very small step to declare them unsuitable and unsafe parents of their own children as well. It would set a legal precedent that declares that basic Christian beliefs and values make a home unsafe for ANY children.
You might think that would never happen, but this is really just the tip of the iceberg of ongoing developments in legal and social policy that are closing in on parents’ rights. It is entirely feasible, if things continue as they are, that Christian parents could be prohibited from attempting to influence the beliefs and values of their own children. There are already laws being debated in the Australian parliament that will outlaw people of faith seeking to counsel people (even their own children) against changing their gender. The anti-conversion therapy laws that are currently being proposed in the Australian parliament, will make it entirely acceptable for a counsellor to support and even encourage a troubled child towards gender change, but illegal for that child’s parents to try to counsel their own child against such a gender transition.
The Hordyk’s court case will set an extremely important precedent in the current battle regarding parental rights. Watch this space!
Author of “Finding God When He Seems To Be Hiding”, “No More Monkey Business: Evolution in Crisis”, “Making Sense of the Bible”, “Rethinking the Gospel” and “The Little Book of Church Leadership.”
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