April 7, 2009
As you may know, in Islamic countries such as Afghanistan, conversion from Islam to Christianity is a crime punishable by death. While they don’t go that far, certain Indian states and Nepal erect formidable hurdles for would-be converts to Christianity.
And then there’s the United Kingdom.
In 2007, a 16-year-old girl was placed into foster care after being assaulted by a family member. Her foster mother had taken care of 80 foster kids over 10 years. She rented a farmhouse and was, by all accounts, completely committed to the well-being of the children placed under her care.
She is also a practicing Anglican Christian. This hadn’t been a problem. No one had ever accused her of taking advantage of her relationship to the girls for proselytizing.
The same is true of the 16-year-old in question. Still, the girl became interested in Christianity on her own; said that she wanted to attend church; and expressed a desire to be baptized. For the girl, baptism was a “washing away of the horrible things she had been through and a symbol of a new start.”
Well, that’s when the fur flew. You see, the girl was born a Muslim, and her baptism is regarded by Muslims as apostasy. If you’re thinking “so what? It’s not Afghanistan,” think again. But this is Britain, where a Christian nurse was recently suspended for offering to pray for her patients.
Thus, when the girl’s case manager learned about her baptism, she “flew into a rage.” Even though the foster mother hadn’t encouraged the girl’s interest in Christianity, she was removed from the list of foster care providers. A child who was in her custody was removed and she “lost the farmhouse she rented to look after vulnerable teenagers, due to the loss of income.”
Even more outrageously, government officials told the girl to stay way from church for six months!
To their credit, neither the foster mother nor the girl passively accepted the rulings. The foster mother has, with the assistance of Britain’s Christian Institute, challenged her removal, and the girl is supporting her efforts.
A spokesman for the Institute called the right to “to change or modify [one’s] religious beliefs” a “core human right in any free society.” He added that he couldn’t imagine an atheist foster parent being removed if “a Christian child in her care stopped believing in God.”
Beyond the double standard, there’s a tragic irony at work here. As journalist Peter Glover wrote in First Things, Britain's “growing crime rate and out-of-control teenage pregnancies” has created “national anxiety” among Brits.
At the same time, as these cases illustrate, government and media elites have instituted a “determined program to abolish the influence of Christianity.” Brits shouldn’t be “astonished that a culture that set out to devalue its values should find itself awash in crime, sex, and social discord.”
And a country where government officials forbid a girl from going to church has clearly forgotten what makes social accord possible in the first place.
Chuck Colson’s daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.