LGBT activists across the country are pushing back against Christian charities’ freedom to abide by the dictates of their consciences, specifically on the issue of adoption and foster care. Many Christian adoption agencies refuse to place children with same-sex couples or in environments that reject Christian teachings, especially on sexuality. In recent weeks, this struggle has flared up across the country.
In Texas, a lesbian couple sued the federal government and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops after Catholic Charities of Fort Worth refused to help them adopt a child. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster sent a letter to Miracle Hill Ministries after a state department ruled the ministry had to place children with non-Christians, in violation of its principles and longstanding practice.
The Georgia state Senate passed a bill enabling faith-based adoption agencies to choose not to work with LGBT couples. State Sen. William Ligon, the bill’s sponsor, insisted, “Just because you are a faith-based organization, doesn’t mean you have to check your faith at the door and cannot participate in government programs.”
LGBT activists vehemently disagree, and have waged a battle on religious freedom for years. In 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston decided to shut its doors after Massachusetts redefined marriage and banned “sexual orientation discrimination.” That year, Catholic Charities was also forced out of San Francisco.
After Washington, D.C. redefined marriage in 2010, the nation’s capital told Catholic Charities it would no longer be an eligible foster care and adoption partner, due to its support for traditional marriage and its policy of placing children with a mom and a dad. Affiliates in Illinois had to close down as well, because they had to place children with same-sex couples to receive state money.
The LGBT agenda has made it harder for needy children to find families in Massachusetts, San Francisco, Illinois, and even the nation’s capital. Children are already suffering because charities are taking a backseat to LGBT “inclusion.”
Miracle Hill Ministries in South Carolina has become one of the largest private foster-care providers in the state, with 161 children receiving care at the current time. In 2017, 31 children were permanently adopted by the families fostering them.
“For 29 years, Miracle Hill has gladly served all foster children of any race, national origin, religious beliefs, sex, disability, or political belief,” foster parent Betsy Tanner wrote in a Greenville News op-ed. “And for 29 years, Miracle Hill has recruited foster families who share its nondenominational Christian religious beliefs. Miracle Hill has always been clear regarding its religious identity and conviction that all staff — paid and unpaid — are followers of Jesus Christ.”
In 2017, however, that changed. The South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) reinterpreted federal and state regulations to say that Miracle Hill does not have the freedom to require foster families share its religious beliefs.
“Based on this new interpretation, SCDSS has given Miracle Hill 30 days to either abandon its religious convictions or shut down its ministry as a foster child placing agency,” Tanner wrote.
According to Miracle Hill’s website, “being a resource foster parent is a tremendous blessing and directly answers God’s call in James 1:27.” That verse states, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
The first half of that verse inspires Christians toward social service, while the second half pushes them to reject being sullied by a sexual revolution in conflict with the Bible.
In the Texas case, lesbian college professors Fatma Marouf and Bryn Esplin were turned away from Catholic Charities of Fort Worth’s refugee fostering program because they did not “mirror a holy family.” Marouf and Esplin argued that this denial constituted discrimination against LGBT people and should cost the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops the federal funding it receives for refugee resettlement programs.
“Allowing the [bishops] to turn away our clients is like our government endorsing one set of religious beliefs over another, which is unconstitutional,” Jamie Gliksberg, at attorney with Lambda Legal, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
This claim proves rather ironic, as the LGBT movement’s advocacy effectively amounts to endorsing one sexual morality over another — shooting down one kind of religious belief in the public square.
The refugee foster care program “is an outreach that is faithful to the Church’s mission to care for the poor and vulnerable,” Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson said in a statement. “This mission is entrusted to the Church by Christ. It would be tragic if Catholic Charities were not able to provide this help, in accordance with the Gospel values and family, assistance that is so essential to these children who are vulnerable to being mistreated.”
Even so, groups like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) argue that protecting the freedom of conscience of religious charities involves a “license to discriminate.”
In fact, LGBT megadonor Tim Gill has declared what amounts to an all-out war on freedom of conscience when it means refusing to serve same-sex weddings or otherwise endorse LGBT issues. He declared, “We’re going to punish the wicked,” referring to Christian bakers like Jack Phillips, who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding but who gladly sold other baked goods to LGBT people.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has carried on a broad-based assault on any organization disagreeing with the LGBT agenda, branding Christian nonprofits “anti-LGBT hate groups.” In one particularly egregious case, the SPLC cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church to brand the pro-family Ruth Institute a “hate group.”
The LGBT movement is pushing Christian charities to choose between the first and second halves of James 1:27 — visit widows and orphans, or keep themselves unstained from the world. Jesus said the “great and first commandment” is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and as important as loving your neighbor is, it takes a clear second-place to obeying God (Matthew 22:36-40).
When the LGBT movement makes this ultimatum, Christian groups choose the first commandment over the second, and children suffer. Rather than punishing “the wicked,” these “nondiscrimination” efforts end up punishing children.