A British court has ruled that a Christian couple can no longer care for foster children because of their opposition to homosexuality.

Eunice and Owen Johns provided foster care for nearly two dozen children in the 1990s -- but after Great Britain instituted equality laws they were banned from the program in 2007.

Social workers red-flagged the couple during an interview when they explained that did not approve of homosexuality because of their Pentecostal faith.

The Associated Press reported that judges at London's Royal Courts of Justice determined that laws protecting homosexuals from discrimination take precedence over the couple's religious beliefs.

Britain, the judges ruled, was a "secular state, not a theocracy."

The Johns told The Press and Journal newspaper they were "extremely distressed."

"We have been excluded because we have moral opinions based on our faith, and we feel sidelined because we are Christians with normal, mainstream, views on sexual ethics," Mrs. Johns said.

British gay rights organizations praised the ruling.

"In any fostering case, the interests of the 60,00 children in care should override the bias of any prospective parent," gay rights activist Ben Summerskill told Pink News, Europe's largest gay news service. "Thankfully, Mr. and Mrs. Johns' out-dated views aren't just out of step with the majority of people in modern Britain, but those of many Christians, too."

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