A Canadian couple who had their foster children taken away from them after refusing to lie about the existence of the Easter bunny has been vindicated by a court ruling. An Ontario judge condemned Children’s Aid Society for violating the Christian foster parent’s right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression when the kids were taken from their home and their fostering agreement terminated over the whole situation.
Derek and Francis Baar sued the charity after a CAS worker insisted that the couple tell both their foster children, aged three and four, that the Easter bunny existed. The Baars refused, stating that their religious beliefs compelled them not to lie.
The couple sought no money in their legal case, and only wanted a court declaration their rights were violated and that they not be blackballed from future fostering, as reported by the National Post. Judge Andrew Goodman ruled that the actions of CAS were “capricious,” “not in the children’s best interests” and potentially reveal an “underlying animus” by the society and its workers.
The Baars are committed Christians and members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America.
“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,” Foster mother Francis Baar said in an interview. CAS argued that the foster parents failed to be adequately respectful of the children’s cultural needs, and said that they also refused to grant the wishes of the birth mother.
“Nothing can be further from the truth,” Judge Goodman wrote. “It appears that the society would not be satisfied with anything other than confirmation from the Baars that they would lie about the Easter Bunny.” Shockingly, CAS removed the kids from their home after giving the foster parents just one day’s notice. The Judge lambasted the organization for doing such a thing under the guise of a misunderstanding over an Easter bunny.
“Given the disruption that these young children had already faced in their lives, there is no doubt that there was a need for stability, permanency and care in their lives. It is very clear from the evidence that the children were being cared for, that the Baars were providing them with stability and were turning their minds to the facets of care required for the children’s development and happiness,” he wrote.
“However, by taking the children away on such short notice, the Society took that away from them and contributed to the turmoil these children had already faced in their short lives. As (a CAS case worker) states in one of her case notes, ‘is it more important to have the Easter Bunny or permanency?’ The Society very clearly chose the Easter Bunny.”
The Judge found that CAS brought forth minimal evidence for their claims, relying on the sole testimony of a placement worker with the charity. Judge Goodman said that he rejected their evidence “as principally unsubstantiated and somewhat self-serving.”
The worker, Tracey Lindsay, also apparently had reservations regarding the couple’s religious beliefs, worrying that they might act in a prejudicial manner toward a prospective gay couple who could, in theory, adopt the children. Again, Judge Goodman slammed this assertion. “It seems likely that Lindsay’s discussion regarding prospective same-sex couples to the Baars was fueled by a potential stereotypical belief in the inability of Christians to support same-sex marriage,” he ruled.
In response to the ruling, CAS issued an apology. “We recognize what our mistakes were,” said executive director, Dominic Verticchio. “We respect the decision of the court… and we have to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”