A Canadian Christian couple says they've been barred from being foster parents because of their religious beliefs on raising children.
Ontario's Levi denBok explained in a series of Facebook posts, in which he also shared the rejection letter from Children's Aid Services, that they were asked what church they attend, and what they believe about the Bible.
"Amanda and I have long felt that we were called to open up our home to foster and potentially to adopt. We love kids. We have enough food to share and enough space in our home and our hearts for a few more so we started a lengthy process with CAS," denBok wrote in a post last week.
"We just received the letter that we have been rejected," he added.
The letter in question reads in part: "We also want to let you know that the policies of our agency do not appear to fit with your values and beliefs and therefore, we will be unable to move forward with an approval for your family as a resource home."
The Christian foster care applicant insisted that despite the letter, he's neither trying to vilify CAS, nor is he trying to paint he and his wife as "martyrs."
DenBok explained that in their interview, he and his wife were asked: "Are you one of those churches that still believes that the Bible is true? It was written thousands of years ago and, obviously, the world has changed."
It was then that the couple realized that there would be trouble with the adoption service.
DenBok rejected the notion that just because they have Christian beliefs, they would not be able to properly take care of children.
"I'm sure that many of you find my faith to be odd — perhaps even off-putting. But would you go so far as to say that my faith disqualifies me from waking up in the middle of the night to rock a 3-month-old back to sleep while her mother detoxes? Because that's where we're at today," he wrote.
"Here's the thing: Somebody has to wake up with that baby. Somebody has to feed them, structure their schedules around them, make weekly visitations with [the] baby's mom. We were up for that. If you're ready to disqualify people of faith from this responsibility, then you'd better be up for opening up your home. Because there's at least one more baby now that needs a home, and until further notice, we are going to have to sit on the sidelines."
In later posts he clarified that the specific issues that CAS found concerning were the couple's stance on spanking and human sexuality.
"Over the course of our training, the issue of spanking came up. During this session, we discovered that we would need to sign a form which states that we agree never to spank any child in our home, including our own biological children," he revealed.
DenBok wrote that even though the couple agreed to CAS' terms, the adoption agents realized that the couple still had their religious convictions on the issue, and would not change their views.
The parent said that the second issue identified was homosexuality. He told the agents that if any of the children identified as gay, he and his wife would still completely love them.
The agents, however, asked them whether they believe what the Bible teaches about sexuality.
"This was not a neutral question, as was evident by the way in which it was framed. We had a very difficult and candid discussion. She was honest, we were honest, and I came away reminded of the benefit of face-to-face discussions about contentious issues," he explained.
"Every parent possesses ideals and every child inevitably falls short of the ideals of their parents. And yet, good parents love their children no matter which direction they proceed in. We are no different."
He emphasized that even though the couple agreed to follow CAS' guidelines for discipline, their beliefs regarding the Bible still disqualified them in the eyes of the agents.
"It wasn't enough that we demonstrated that we would love any child that was placed in our home. It wasn't enough that we would provide a safe place for a child to learn and grow. We had to BELIEVE differently. That's not conformity — that's conversion," he argued.
"We live in Canada — a country that is celebrated worldwide for our spirit of inclusion and our culture of diversity. If inclusion and diversity are going to continue to thrive in our country, we must give each other the freedom to think differently."
Back in May, an evangelical Christian couple in Alberta who were barred from adopting children because of their biblical beliefs against same-sex marriage saw the ban overturned.
"The government has no right to discriminate on the basis of religion when looking at couples who are seeking to adopt," lawyer John Carpay said at the time.
"You can't say that someone can't become an adoptive parent because they're Muslim, they're Jewish or because they're evangelical Christian," he added.