About a decade ago, I attended an event just outside of Chicago sponsored by the Christian group Focus on the Family. I was curious to see what President Jim Daly would say about his plans for the organization. I was surprised to hear that he hoped to lead the group away from the anti-gay divisiveness it was known for and more in the direction of promoting adoption.
That didn’t pan out.
Focus on the Family is still as anti-gay as it’s always been, and they’re still best known for promoting bigotry. Daly may not say the incendiary things that his predecessor James Dobson used to, but the principles remain the same. Just look at how Focus has handled transgender issues and you’ll see nothing has changed.
Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Alex Acquisto, a native Kentuckian raised in Christianity, just published an essay about how faith has been used in the state to discriminate against certain groups. The piece is more about former Gov. Matt Bevin (a Christian supremacist), but Focus enters the picture, as does the hypocrisy we’ve come to expect from right-wing Christians.
Look at what happens when Bevin’s office promotes a similar event run by Focus on the Family. Bevin always talked about helping kids, so he was happy to join forces, but it also led to a lot of questions he refused to address.
… As governor, Bevin glinted a similar religious sheen. But for all the ways he reflected Kentucky’s Christian values, the Bluegrass State boasts one of the highest child abuse rates in the country; rising numbers of children abused and neglected to death; high rate of social worker caseloads and turnover, and record numbers of children in foster care…
This was my context when I reached out to Bevin’s office about this event — one of four in churches across Kentucky — each of which was co-hosted by Focus on the Family and state agencies to enlist “quality” foster and adoptive parents.
I asked one of Bevin’s spokespeople whether a goal of these events is “to only recruit heterosexual couples to adopt children.”
The answer, of course, was yes. Instead of saying that, though, Bevin’s spokesperson chastised Acquisto for even asking the question. It didn’t stop there. When she attended the event, Bevin was there in person, and he called out the reporter (without saying her name) in front of the crowd for questioning his intentions.
“There are people who want to undermine this,” he said. “There’s a newspaper in this immediate region, and I won’t name their name, but it rhymes with Schmerald-Schmeader, [and] their only interest in this effort was to try and find problems with Focus on the Family and the kind of people who they imagined were going to come here, and the kind of way in which they would or would not approach what it’s like to open your home. That’s the only interest they had.”
It was an emblematic moment of friction between Bevin and the press, a notoriously hostile relationship while he was in office.
But it also highlighted a disparity that many journalists deal with today, and one that Bevin lobbed regularly: the very act of questioning is an unacceptable affront.
Acquisto was right to ask why the state was promoting religious discrimination if the goal was to put kids in homes. Bevin wouldn’t admit that and whined about the question itself. And Focus on the Family, as always, never gave a damn about the kids because they would rather see kids remain in foster care than place them in the home of a loving gay couple.
It’s a reminder that Christianity isn’t, and never has been, synonymous with goodness. Christian politicians don’t deserve unearned trust. And Kentucky is better off today because Bevin is out of office.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)