Whenever conservative Christians complain about LGBTQ rights, one of the examples they bring up is how faith-based adoption agencies that receive federal funding would have to shut down if they were forced to stop being bigots.
The counterargument, of course, is that no one’s asking them to do anything that contradicts their mission. Putting children in safe, loving homes — including the homes of same-sex couples — is a win-win for all sides.
Are the Christians more interested in promoting bigotry or helping the kids in need?
Now one Christian organization, clearly seeing the writing on the wall, says it will work with same-sex couples if that means continuing to receive taxpayer money.
Bethany Christian Services announced to its 1,500 employees today that it would start working with LGBTQ people instead of simply referring them to other agencies. The New York Times has more:
Bethany’s informal policy [to refer LGBTQ people elsewhere] became increasingly challenging for the organization in recent years, as various states and municipalities began requiring agencies to accept applications from L.G.B.T.Q. couples in order to maintain their government contracts.
Bethany, by contrast, has generally opted to comply [with those requirements]. In Philadelphia, the branch quickly changed its policy to work with gay parents, and the city restored its contract. That year, Bethany’s national board passed a resolution granting local boards the authority to comply with state and local contract requirements. As of last year, the organization said, Bethany branches in 12 states were working with L.G.B.T.Q. families, although those changes were rarely publicized.
Now, instead of allowing branches to work with gay couples, they’re making it a national policy. It’s not that they’re changing their views about same-sex marriage — they’re still against it — but as a company, they’re no longer taking a stance on the issue and just putting the focus on getting kids into safe homes.
They did this in Michigan a couple of years ago when faced with a lawsuit and even the Democratic attorney general commended the action:
Having more adoption agencies which don’t discriminate =‘s more children adopted into loving, nurturing “forever” homes. Thank you to Bethany Christian Services! https://t.co/H55Gs1ZktW
— Dana Nessel (@dananessel) April 20, 2019
The question now is whether evangelicals who donate to this company will continue to do so. There’s a chance they’ll revolt, as if the company is a sign of a secular culture gone wild. Revoking that funding would ultimately hurt the children in Bethany’s care, but for Christians bigots like these, it was never about helping kids. It was always about promoting hate while using those kids as pawns.
The people running Bethany believe they’ve passed a tipping point where anti-LGBTQ bigotry, even among Christians, isn’t permissible and they’d like to put themselves in a position where their company isn’t at risk of shutting down or losing a major source of funding based on their exclusionary beliefs. It’s good for Christianity, too, to be honest. It’s a lot harder to criticize churches when they’re not overtly promoting hatred. A faith-based adoption agency that is willing to put kids in LGBTQ homes is an important step in the right direction.
It shouldn’t have taken the threat of losing funding for them to do the right thing, but with conservative Christian groups, better late than never may be the best you can hope for.
(Image via Shutterstock)