Ethos Education

Christian Foster Carers: What do Christians believe about homosexuality?

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Learning Objective:

  • Different Christian attitudes towards homosexuality.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Reflect on the need to evaluate essential attributes when recruiting people to important roles.
  • Evaluate a court decision in a case concerning an application to be foster-carers.
  • Reflect upon the students’ own preconceptions of what Christians might be expected to believe about homosexuality.
  • Analyse different Christian perspectives on homosexuality.
  • Synthesise learning by writing reports on the Christian foster-carers case for different newspapers.

When teaching this lesson, please bear in mind that this is a subject that may cause embarrassment for some students, as well as stirring up strong (and differing) views. You might like to check the current rules and guidelines on teaching with regard to homosexuality before doing this lesson.

STARTER:

Put the students into small groups and give out copies of the Job Applicant cards (cut out in advance of the lesson). Ask each group to decide which applicant would probably be the best match for each job.

Jobs:

  • Teacher
  • Racing driver
  • Trauma counsellor
  • Football manager
  • Journalist
  • Event security manager

Applicants:

  • Ann: Intelligent with good communication skills. Gets on well with children and teenagers.
  • Bob: Calm under pressure, loves extreme sports and enjoys the feeling of an adrenalin rush. Good hand-eye co-ordination.
  • Cara: Good at listening, with the ability to get on well with people and win their trust. Compassionate and non-judgemental.
  • Danny: Good motivational skills and an eye for detail. Able to take an overview of a developing situation and change approach mid-task when necessary.
  • Eddie: Highly articulate, with an ability to get on well with people and win their trust. Good at working to deadlines and approaching things from a variety of angles.
  • Fiona: Good at calming people down and diffusing tense situations. Used to organising teams of people to work for a common purpose.

The best match for the various jobs is probably as follows: Ann the teacher; Bob the racing driver; Cara the trauma counsellor; Danny the football manager; Eddie the journalist; Fiona the event security manager. You might want to point out that some of the applicants would probably have been good at more than one job – for example, Fiona’s skill set suggests that she would also make a good football manager, and Bob might be a successful event security manager if his love of an adrenalin rush didn’t make him start more fights than he prevented.

Point out that when assigning people for an important role, it is necessary to have a clear sense of which attributes are required for that role, and which ones are likely to be a hindrance. Explain that in today’s lesson you are going to be looking at a legal case where an aspect of a couple’s Christian belief was counted against them as they applied for a particular role.

MAIN ACTIVITIES:

Ask the students what qualities they would look for in foster carers. Brainstorm a list of attributes – possible answers might include patience, compassion, disposable income, etc.

Ask whether the students think that Christians would be likely to make particularly good foster parents, particularly bad ones, or no better or worse than anyone else.

Introduce the news story about Eunice and Owen Johns, a Derby couple who have been told that they can no longer be foster carers because of their belief that homosexuality is wrong. Give out copies of the news story and read through it with the students.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-12598896

If you prefer to use other accounts of the story, here is a selection from the websites of major newspapers:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/antigay-christian-couple-lose-battle-to-become-foster-parents-2228269.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/8353512/Foster-parent-ban-extreme-distress-of-anti-gay-Christians-over-ruling.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/feb/28/christian-couple-lose-care-case?INTCMP=SRCH

Ask the students for their reaction to the story. Broadly speaking, do they agree with Mr and Mrs Johns or with the court decision?

Ask the students if they were surprised by Mr and Mrs Johns’ claim that their belief that homosexuality was wrong were ‘normal, mainstream, Christian views on sexual ethics’. Compare that with Ben Summerskill’s description of those views as ‘out-dated’ and ‘out of step with the majority of people in modern Britain [and] many Christians too.’ What would students expect a modern Christian to believe about homosexuality?

Hand out a copy of the Different Responses to Homosexuality document. Once the class has had time to read it, ask if anything in the document surprised them, or if all the responses were exactly as they would have expected.

SUMMARY AND ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING:

Ask the students to write three brief newspaper editorials on the Johns’ case. One should be for a newspaper with a readership of Conservative Evangelical Christians (whose views would be likely to correspond with those of the Johns’), one for a more liberal Christian readership (who would be less likely to hold such strong views against homosexuality) and one should be for a non-religious readership.

YOU WILL NEED:

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