By Todd Brady
Vice President for University Ministries, Union University
After being sued for declining to work with same-sex couples, the agency decided to alter its policy in order to come in line with a state regulation. When the state’s attorney general declared that foster agencies contracting with the government can no longer decline to work with LGBT families, it opted to change its longstanding policy in order to comply. Unfortunately, it decided to begin placing children with LGBT families.
There are two wrongs here. The wrong of government stipulating that this private organization deny its religious beliefs by placing children in LGBT homes is matched only by the agency’s reversal of policy to comply with state regulation. As an American, a Christian and a father of adopted children, I don’t know which is worse — for the government to interfere with a religious organization’s work or for the religious organization itself to capitulate to governmental pressures? Neither is acceptable.
The agency’s CEO said “We cannot serve foster children without contracting with the state. So we faced a choice: Continue caring for hurting children in foster care or let our disappointment with government requirements supersede our compassion for kids who have suffered and need a loving family.”
The agency should not have been put in this predicament. The government should not force religious organizations to make a choice between beliefs and compliance A Christian adoption agency, as well as churches, Christian universities and other private, religious institutions should be able to establish parameters apart from legal meddling.
As Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission states, “The government should not appoint itself as evaluator of what constitutes acceptable theology for faith-based agencies. This concerted effort in the child welfare space to shut down service providers because they hold disfavored religious views is wrong,”
There will always be differences among us — political, socioeconomic, educational, philosophical, religious, etc. The First Amendment allows for varying stances on multiple issues, but as Lori Windham of Becket has said, it does not allow the state to “shut down people you disagree with.”
Obviously, this adoption agency probably feared being shut down. However, should its fear have resulted in compliance just to keep their doors open? There are worse things than being put out of business. In a day of increasing government encroachment, Christians must realize that the issue is not about keeping the doors open. It’s about integrity. This agency has clearly communicated that they have managed to keep their doors open.
Upon making this decision they said their mission “… has not changed. We are focused on demonstrating the love of Jesus by serving children in need. …” They will still serve children, but will they serve them well?
Religious organizations should have the freedom to shape policies and practices without government interference, and when government interference does come, religious organizations must not respond by denying their beliefs.