.- A British woman who has fostered more than 80 children over ten years has been disqualified from service as a caregiver after a teenage Muslim girl in her charge converted to Christianity.
The woman, a churchgoer in her 50s, has lost the farmhouse she rented to look after vulnerable teenagers because of the loss of income. Another girl in her charge has been taken back into foster care.
According to the Telegraph, the caregiver said she discouraged the 16-year-old Muslim girl’s interest in Christianity and did not pressure the girl to convert.
"I offered her alternatives. I offered to find her places to practice her own religion,” she said.
"I offered to take her to friends or family. But she said to me from the word go: 'I am interested and I want to come [to church]'."
The girl had been placed into foster care after she was assaulted by a family member.
The caregiver said the girl saw her baptism as “a washing away of the horrible things she had been through and a symbol of a new start.”
The woman, an Anglican, claimed that social services staffers were aware that the girl was attending her evangelical church and the council heads only objected when they discovered the girl had been baptized.
According to the Telegraph, abandoning Islam is strongly condemned in the Koran and is considered taboo in Muslim communities.
Officials advised the teenage girl to reconsider her decision and to stop attending Christian meetings.
In November, they removed the caregiver from the register, claiming she breached her duty as a foster parent.
"They consider that in some way she should have taken steps to prevent the conversion,” the caregiver’s solicitor Nigel Priestley explained to the Telegraph.
Priestly is demanding a judicial review of the council’s decision. He claims they breached Article 9 of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees freedom of religion for both the caregiver and the girl.
He said that the now 17-year-old teenager, who has returned to her parents’ custody, was “distressed” that her action had produced such effects and supports her former caregiver’s challenge.
Priestly reported that the council has offered to review its decision but his client is prepared to pursue legal action.
The caregiver told the Daily Telegraph: "I just want to get my life back.
"I still hope to resolve this so that I can possibly foster again in the future as I simply enjoy helping young people."
The Christian Institute is funding the caregiver’s legal case. Institute official Mike Judge commented on the case, saying:
"I cannot imagine that an atheist foster carer would be struck off if a Christian child in her care stopped believing in God.
"This is the sort of double standard that Christians are facing in Britain."