Christian Legal Centre’s Roger Kiska examines some of the implications of the case of Richard Page.
“For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the LORD; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions.” Isaiah 30:9-10
As the Employment Appeal Tribunal hears arguments this week in the case of Richard Page v. NHS Trust Development Authority, it is worth noting why this case matters. Richard Page is a symbol that free speech in this county is no longer so free… in fact, for Richard it came with the excessively high cost of being dismissed as a Magistrate and removed by the NHS as a non-executive director of Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust.
The controversy erupted when, during closed door deliberations in an adoption case, Richard had the audacity to say that a child does best with a mother and a father. He later defended the position when his case became the subject of national media attention. Despite having an honourable and spotless 15-year record serving as a Magistrate and an additional 20 years of exemplary service as a finance director in the NHS, expressing the belief that a child does better with a mother and a father was enough to bar him from holding both offices. He was told by the NHS that it was not in the interests of the health service for him to serve as a non-executive director. It was believed that his presence, because of how he expressed himself about mother/father parenting, was “likely to have had a negative impact on the confidence of staff, patients and the public in you as a local NHS leader.”
What is perhaps most remarkable in all of this is that Richard, as a magistrate sitting in the family division, was doing exactly what he should have been doing. He was looking after the best interests of the child. That is the gold standard in family law. It is also a truth reinforced by social science, psychology and biology.
As sociologist Dr David Popenoe rightly affirms: “We should disavow the notion that ‘mommies can make good daddies,’ just as we should disavow the popular notion of radical feminists that ‘daddies can make good mommies.’… The two sexes are different to the core, and each is necessary—culturally and biologically—for the optimal development of a human being.”
Why Richard Page is not homophobic
Nor is the belief that a child does best when brought up by a mother and a father inherently homophobic. Case in point, University of Texas Sociology Professor Mark Regnerusscreened nearly 15,000 people in a latitudinal study, concluding with a representative sample of almost 3000 individuals between the ages of 18 to 39, that children who grew up in same-sex parenting homes did worse in many social indices including: (a) they were much more likely to have received welfare; (b) experienced lower educational achievement; (c) reported less security and safety in their family of origin; (d) are more likely to suffer from depression; (e) have been arrested more often; and (f) if they are female, that they had more sexual partners.
The reality of same-sex parenting
This reality is also addressed in several amicus briefs filed to the United States Supreme Court in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges by adults who grew up in same-sex households. More than 500 pages of scholarly writing has also been dedicated to the plight of adults who grew up in same-sex homes and the difficulties they would later face in life in the book Jephthah’s Daughter. Loren Marks has also published a scholarly analysis of 59 previous studies on same-sex parenting, holding that children growing up in a same-sex household are significantly disadvantaged when compared to those growing up with a mother and a father.
The scientific evidence
Whereas even left-leaning publications like Child Trends can recognize that social science is clear about the benefits of being raised by one’s biological mother and father:
It is not simply the presence of two parents…but the presence of two biological parents that seems to support children’s development…
…[R]esearch clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. Children in single-parent families, children born to unmarried mothers, and children in stepfamilies or cohabitating relationships face higher risks of poor outcomes… There is thus value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents.
Studies that control for outside variables have also concluded that children who grow up with a mother and father in a low conflict household do better than in any other family model in regards to: literacy and graduation rates; rates of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide; strong sense of identity, timing of onset of puberty, rates of teen and out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and rates of sexual abuse; rates of aggression, attention deficit disorder, delinquency and incarceration.
The impact of political correctness on children
The sad reality is that the vilification of religious and moral viewpoints against anything remotely associated with the homosexual lifestyle, including same-sex parenting, have made facts hateful and put a chilling effect on freedom of expression. As a society, we can no longer let political correctness get in the way of issues as important as parenting. Former British Welfare Minister Lord Freud, in 2014, suggested that the breakdown of the family in the United Kingdom was costing taxpayers an estimated £46 billion.The Office for National Statistics has evidenced that instances of children being born outside of wedlock have risen an astonishing 500 percent in the last 65 years, from less than 5% to 47.6%.
Richard’s critics have suggested that he has let his religious views prejudice his judicial objectivity and that sharing his views publicly was a breach of his neutrality. Yet those same critics had nothing but praise when the President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale,shared her private views on the liberalisation of divorce to the Evening Standard. The difference: that one view was in step with the cultural zeitgeist and one was not. The price for being out of step with the culture, apparently, is removal from office and being barred from holding certain professional offices, despite having an otherwise unblemished record for two decades.
So this week, we pray for Richard Page. He is a good man who simply wanted to do the best by the children and the court he was serving, while remaining faithful to his deeply held Christian faith. These two things, according to the best available research, should have been one and the same. Yet who wants to hear right things, when smooth things and deceit are all the rage this season?
The sad fact is that the current family culture is a mess right now. Oddly, very few people would dispute that fact. So why is Richard Page being punished so harshly for believing in a position that has stood the test of time and always proven itself as a truth? Whatever the answer, we need to figure it out fast. As we sacrifice more Richard Page’s to the altar of political correctness, we get to a point where we have strayed so far that we will have lost our way irrevocably.
Find out more about Richard Page