The Children's Aid Society (CAS) of Hamilton in Ontario, Canada has allegedly removed two foster children from the home of Christian parents because they refused to say that the Easter Bunny was real.
Derek and Frances Baars, who fostered three and four-year-old sisters in 2015, have filed a lawsuit against CAS last week, alleging that child support worker insisted that the couple should tell the two girls in their care that the Easter Bunny was real, despite their belief that lying is wrong.
The dispute has caused CAS to turn down the couple as prospective foster parents. The couple claims that the organization violated their rights based on their religious beliefs as members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church.
The Baars are being supported by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), a conservative non-profit that defends constitutional freedoms through litigation, according to the National Post.
According to legal documents filed by the JCCF, the problems began around Easter of 2016, when a placement support worker informed the couple that they must tell the two foster girls that the Easter Bunny was a real entity.
The Baars refused based on religious grounds, and the two girls in their care were later removed.
"We believe that Christianity is objectively true, that it's based in history, and therefore truth-telling in every area of life is important – no matter what the area is," Derek said, as reported by CBC.
"There is no such thing as white lies or innocent lies. It was crucial that we knew we were telling the children the truth and they had the right to expect us to tell the truth," he added.
They claim that they hid easter eggs for the children to find on Easter and bought them Easter dresses, but the support worker was not satisfied with their efforts.
Dominic Verticchio, executive director of the Hamilton CAS, denied the allegation that the organization was disrespectful of the couple's beliefs. He noted that CAS works to continue the customary practices of the children while they are in foster care.
The Baars, who have been unable to conceive a child of their own, applied to be foster parents in 2015. They claim that they discussed their beliefs with CAS workers during the five-day training program.
"We had talked with the trainers about the fact that we do not celebrate Halloween, for example," Frances said in a sworn affidavit.
The CAS home study, which was filed in court, notes the couple's position on the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and Halloween, as well as the fact that Derek is blind.
The Baars were approved as foster parents after numerous home visits and interviews, and they entered into a formal agreement with CAS on Dec. 17, 2015.
As Easter approached, their placement support worker allegedly warned them that their foster children will be taken away if they did not tell them the Easter Bunny was real.
On March 3, 2016, the couple was told that their foster home was being shut down, and the children were taken away the next morning.
Derek said that he and his wife filed the charter application ensure that they would be able to become foster parents elsewhere. The couple lived in rural Hamilton at the time, but they have since moved to Calgary.