Disappointment, concern greet Bethany’s policy reversal

Southern Baptist leaders expressed disappointment and concern for the ramifications of Bethany Christian Services’ national policy reversal to place children for adoption and foster care with same-sex couples.

Bethany, the country’s largest evangelical Christian adoption agency, informed its staff in 32 states of the change in March, but its 14-member board of directors had unanimously approved a motion Jan. 20 that set the revision in motion.

Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said he is “disappointed in this decision, as are many.”

“The need is great for distinctively Christian adoption and foster care services, including that children need both mothers and fathers,” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in written comments.

On Twitter, Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said of Bethany’s action: “Very disappointing capitulation to cultural pressure. Children need a dad and a mom in a healthy, biblical home. God’s Word is clear.”

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the decision reflects the “head-on collision” between “at least historically Christian foster care and adoption agencies” and, in some cases, federal, state and local governments.

Moore expressed apprehension Bethany’s action “will harm already existing efforts to enable faith-based orphan care ministries to serve the vulnerable without capitulating on core Christian convictions.”

In recent years, religious organizations have faced requirements that they change their beliefs and practices regarding marriage and family to work with some state and local governments in adoption and foster-care placements.

The ERLC has made a federal solution to the problem for faith-based agencies a priority in its public policy agenda. It has worked for adoption of the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which would bar government discrimination against adoption agencies and other child welfare entities that refuse to take part in serving in a way that contradicts their beliefs.

— Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.