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Wednesday
May302018

Ontario: Christian foster parents need not lie about Easter Bunny

Derek and Francis Baars (Photo: Courtesy Derek Baarsf)

(Staff)  AN ONTARIO COURT has ruled that Christian foster parents who refused to call the Easter Bunny real should not have had two foster girls removed from their care.

The Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton considered promoting belief in the Easter Bunny more important than preventing possible trauma when it removed two girls from a foster home because the Christian couple refused to lie about the rabbit’s existence, an Ontario judge ruled on March 6.

Justice Andrew Goodman of Ontario’s Superior Court declared the CAS violated the foster parents’ right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression when the children were taken from their home and their fostering agreement terminated over the Easter Bunny dispute.

Derek and Frances Baars, who lived in Hamilton at the time but have since moved to Edmonton, sued the Children’s Aid Society last year, saying a CAS worker insisted they proactively tell two girls in their care, aged three and four, that the Easter Bunny was genuine, despite the couple’s belief that all lying is wrong.

The Baars sought no money, only a court declaration that their rights were violated and that they not be blacklisted from future fostering.

On March 8, 2016 the CAS removed the children, ended the Baars’ ability to foster other local children and, likely, interfered with the couple’s ability to foster children in Alberta, Goodman found.

Goodman said the CAS’s actions were “capricious,” “not in the children’s best interests” and potentially reveal an “underlying animus” by the society and its workers.

The Baars are members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. While they celebrate Christmas with presents and Easter with chocolate, they view both Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny as mythological beings.

“We said that we would neither confirm nor deny the existence of these two mythological creatures, but were not prepared to lie.”

Evidence was clear the Baars sincerely believe it is wrong to lie, including lying to promote belief in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. The Baars made their position clear to the CAS before being accepted as foster parents, the court heard.

Francis Baar greeted the judgment with joy: “We are very thankful for it, that we’ve been vindicated. Our names have been cleared and we don’t have that hanging over us anymore.” It had been a two-year ordeal.

Despite evidence showing the children were well cared for in a safe, secure and happy home, the CAS removed the little girls with only one day’s notice, an act, court heard in evidence from child experts, that was a “potentially traumatizing event.”

“[B]y taking the children away on such short notice, the Society ….contributed to the turmoil these children had already faced in their short lives.”

There are times when child welfare workers need to remove children suddenly if there is physical or sexual abuse, Goodman wrote, but nuance over the Easter Bunny is not one of them.

The Baars are in the process of applying to adopt a child in Edmonton and hope the ruling helps their application move smoothly through the bureaucracy.   TAP

Source: The National Post

 

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