Evangelical Christians Derek and Frances Baars say their foster home was shut down because they refused to lie about the existence of the Easter Bunny.
The Baars say the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton, Ontario has violated their freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of expression and right to be free from discrimination under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.
They filed a charter application Thursday in an Ontario court.
The foster home was closed in March 2016 and the couple says the reason given was because they refused to affirm the existence of the Easter Bunny to two young girls, aged three-years and five-years, under their care.
They accuse children’s aid of justifying the closure on a trumped-up charge that because the Baars were evangelical Christians, that they automatically discriminate against a same-sex couple that was wanting to adopt children at the foster home. The Baars were not accused of demonstrating that attitude, just that they might potentially do so.
The children’s aid society is claiming, however, that the Baars were “not in agreement with supporting the parent’s wishes for the children’s care” and objected to returning the children to their biological parents.
“The parent’s cultural and religious beliefs are to be supported by the child-care team and this was the direction provided with respect to the care of these children,” states a letter from children’s aid that was filed with the court.
The letter also alludes cryptically to conversations that the couple allegedly had with the children that were not “age appropriate or sensitive to their needs and age and stage of development.”
The Baars are now living in Calgary, Alberta but are requesting that the foster home closure be deemed “unreasonable, discriminatory and contrary to fundamental rights and freedoms” outlined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and for their file to note that the closure violated the Charter.
Dominic Verticchio, executive director of the Hamilton children’s aid, told CTV News on Thursday that foster parents are expected to jettison “personal beliefs and values” when caring for children raised in “different settings.”
Verticchio said the Barrs refused to compromise their religious beliefs and that they were imposing those beliefs “on children that are, literally, just in transition.”
He says after deliberation, “we came to the conclusion that what we expected of foster parents and what their beliefs were were not compatible.”