Word from the Center Digest: April 26, 2019

Protecting Children from Bullies is Tough When the Bully is the State of Michigan

 byJim Daly

Last week, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel caved to the ACLU and announced Michigan will force faith-based adoption agencies to violate their religious convictions or lose all state funding that make adoptions and foster care placements possible. 

Nessel, the first openly gay candidate to win statewide office in Michigan, astoundingly stated that Michigan’s existing law providing religious conscience protections for faith-based adoption agencies prevented kids from finding forever homes:

“Limiting the opportunity for a child to be adopted or fostered by a loving home not only goes against the state’s goal of finding a home for every child, it is a direct violation of the contract every child-placing agency enters into with the state.”

Ms. Nessel is entitled to her opinions, but not her own facts. In all due respect, her statement is nonsense.

According to the state, agencies such as Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Charities were responsible for 12 percent of all foster care and adoption cases in Michigan – that’s 1,600 children.

Meanwhile, there are a number of other child-placing agencies willing to work with prospective parents who identify as LGBT. In fact, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty who represented St. Vincent Catholic Charities notes that “the ACLU’s clients live closer to four other foster and adoption agencies that would have helped them adopt. Instead of going to these agencies, they have spent years targeting St. Vincent and trying to shut down their programs.”

In other words, LGBT couples who want to find an agency to work with in Michigan can easily find one.

If the goal is really to find a home for every child, how does it make sense to severely hinder faith-based adoption agencies from doing just that in the name of solving a problem that doesn’t exist?

It doesn’t, unless the real goal is to score political points by marginalizing and sidelining Christians.

Every day, we’re seeing greater hostility to people of faith in our nation, and the epicenter is the clash between religious freedom and LGBT rights. In this month alone, the San Antonio City Council banned Chick-fil-A from being an airport vendor because the restaurant’s foundation donated to the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a Georgia boys’ home. Jack Phillips, the courageous Christian baker, continued to fend off challenges to his livelihood. Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of Dr. Allan Josephson, a professor at the University of Louisville with a stellar 15-year-record, who was demoted and effectively fired for expressing concerns about providing surgery for children expressing gender dysphoria. Next month will bring a cascade of new cases.

Against this cultural backdrop, it’s easy to see why the Michigan Attorney General felt emboldened to move against faith-based adoption agencies. But this anti-Christian hostility isn’t about caring for kids.

Every day in this country, children enter foster care as a result of neglect, drug abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse. Their stories are heartbreaking.

Through Focus on the Family’s Wait No More program, more than 4,000 families have initiated the process to adopt. We have now expanded the program to include foster care and are providing care and support for these families. We’ve seen firsthand the incredible work faith-based adoption agencies in placing kids in loving homes every day.

Rather than cut down on the number of child-placing agencies, making it more difficult for prospective foster and adoptive parents to find an organization that aligns with their values and ultimately leading to waiting children waiting even longer, government needs to get out of the way of thriving agencies.

Government certainly plays a role in enacting and enforcing reasonable standards to ensure children are safe and cared for, but it’s an abuse of power to bully faith-based groups who are doing the most good simply for identity politics. 

If the state of Michigan is serious about finding a home for every waiting child, the Attorney General’s decision to restrict access to adoption services flies in the face of taking care of the state’s children. 

Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family.

Be Informed

Lost sight of the innate value and worth we share as God’s children? Discover how an appeal to our common humanity might help heal our divisions and bring back civility to our public debates.

Be Equipped

Bev Schaefer, with Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri, explains how foster parents make a difference in the lives of children and families, who are candidates to be foster parents, the need for foster parents, and how to become licensed. Click here to listen on KFUO.org.

Be Encouraged

“By the love of God the Father, who chose a young woman to carry out His plan of salvation, a young woman who knew what it is to be confused by an unplanned pregnancy; by the grace of Christ, who while still in the womb was greeted by the ‘leaping,’ yes, ‘rejoicing’ John the Baptizer, himself unborn (Luke 1:44); by the strength of Him who healed every disease and cared for every life He encountered (Mark 1:34); by the mercy of God the Father who sent His Son, mercy incarnate for all (Luke 1:78); by the knowledge of our eternal God and Lord who knows and loves every child formed in the womb (Jer. 1:5; John 3:16); empowered by the Spirit of life who gives me life (Job 33:4; Rom. 8:10), I—a sinner no better than the next (1 Tim. 1:15)—shall speak (Jer. 20:9).

“I shall intervene (Luke 10:33). I shall love all and treasure God’s gift of life, womb to tomb (1 Tim. 6:18). For Jesus experienced it all, sanctified it all and redeems it all (Gal. 3:13). He has redeemed me that I may no longer live for myself (1 John 4:9; 1 Pet. 4:2).” – Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod