Friday, May 7, 2021
It's Friday, May 7, 2021.
I'm Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
No Institution Is Safe from the Moral Revolution, Not Even a Foster Care and Adoption Agency: Just Look at What’s Happening in Kentucky
We're living in a time of such moral transformation, that there is no institution, there is no relationship that is safe from the ambitions of those who are trying to revolutionize our society. This includes the family unit as we have seen. It includes matters as intimate as human reproduction and human relatedness. It invades even the relationship between parents and children or a potential relationship between, say, foster care parents and foster care children. Evidence of this comes to us in a news report from the Louisville Courier-Journal, telling us that Sunrise Children's Services, that's a childcare organization that is closely allied with the Kentucky Baptist Convention is "ending its relationship with the state over an apparent contract dispute." Deborah Yetter is the reporter for the Courier-Journal. She tells us, "Sunrise affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention has refused the state's most recent contract offer that includes provisions required by federal law according to Susan Dunlap, a Spokeswoman for the State Cabinet for Health and Human Services."
Dunlap said, "The Cabinet has offered Sunrise Children's Services an adoption foster service agency opportunities to enter into an agreement required by federal law. They have refused to do so." Let's back up a minute. Sunrise Children's Services is indeed a ministry affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, and that means it is obligated to and driven by the convictions of Kentucky Baptist. You're also looking at the fact that as is true in most situations, the child care and adoption agencies that have historically served families and children have been driven by religious impulses. In the United States the vast majority have been driven by Christian impulses. Historic Christianity, at least as represented by Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical ministries. You're also looking at the fact that in many states, including states such as Kentucky, Baptist agencies, such as Sunrise Children's Services have been amongst the most important and the most effective of those agencies.
But now you can see right here in Kentucky, that inevitable collision between the newly invented sexual liberties of the LGBTQ movement and religious liberty, actually ensconced in and respected in the text of the United States Constitution, even in the First Amendment. What are we looking at here? We're looking at that collision. And we're looking at the fact that it makes news and is a particular Christian consideration because it's part of a larger context. It's also newsworthy that this is taking place in the state of Kentucky. Even just days ago on The Briefing I discussed the fact that long before the Obergefell decision of 2015 legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, states such as Massachusetts legalized, same sex marriage at the state level and that meant that right then the state of Massachusetts then had a newly defined definition of marriage. And that would have impact throughout Massachusetts law, including matters related to adoption and foster care.
Catholic Charities, one of the longest serving children's service agencies there in Massachusetts was faced with a forced option, either give up Catholic doctrine and Catholic moral teaching, or continue in the adoption and foster care enterprise, continue to serve children. Catholic Charities to its credit understood that the Catholic part of their identity was essential and they basically had to stop serving the children in Massachusetts because the state was going to require them to place children in the homes of those who were parents by same-sex marriage. That violated the convictions and the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic church, Catholic Charities, one of the longest and most respected childcare agencies in the state had to stop. Now we see the same picture looming in Kentucky. Of course, this is on the other side of the Obergefell decision of 2015 legalizing same-sex marriage, but it's also on the other side of something else.
And that means that there is a new administration in the White House, and there is a democratic governor in Kentucky. You put those two things together, that explains why there has been some change. And this is a change. Todd Gray, the Executive Director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention said that the conflict comes down to just one sentence. A sentence in the contract that the state has refused to delete. Why is this news? Why is this different? It is because as Dr. Gray said, previous Kentucky governors, previous administrations, "had agreed to strike the disputed provision from the sunrise contract with the state." Dr. Gray said, "The bottom line is that there's just a deeply held religious conviction. We do have religious liberty in our country."
Well, constitutionally, we certainly do, but we're finding out day by day that there are direct threats to that constitutional right.
In a statement given to Kentucky Today, Dr. Gray was extremely clear, "Sunrise cannot renew their contract with the state because of their deeply held religious beliefs. In years past an addendum or accommodation has been given, but that's not the case in 2021." He went on to say, "One news outlet is saying Sunrise is pulling out on the state implying that Sunrise is abandoning the state. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sunrise would sign a contract today that respects their deeply held religious convictions." You'll notice that in the Louisville Courier-Journal story, we are told that the state had refused to make any adjustment to the contract that was offered to Sunrise Children's Services saying that the provisions were "required by federal law." Well, here's what we need to note. Federal law has not changed since the last contract with Sunrise Children's Services.
It hasn't changed. Something else has changed. The presidency has changed in the White House and the governorship has changed in the governor's mansion of Kentucky. In this case, both president Joe Biden and Governor Andy Beshear are Democrats that is not incidental. And in both cases, they were elected with the open support of the LGBTQ movement. And let's make no mistake. Let's not even hesitate here. That is the issue. It was not stated openly in either of these news stories, but we do understand that is the issue. It is the only issue that makes any sense in this context whatsoever. And in the larger context, the national context, we have seen that that is exactly the forced choice that has been directed at so many religious charities, including childcare agencies. They've been presented with a choice, either surrender your religious convictions and simply accept the state's new definition of marriage or the state will not partner with you in care for neglected and abused children from troubled homes.
But here's where you have to understand. Who pays the price then? It's not going to be the agency because the agency doesn't exist for its own sake anyway. The persons who will be harmed will be the children who will not have placements, the children who will not be cared for in an agency with the sensitivity, and the effectiveness and the care and faithfulness of something like Sunrise Children's Services. What you are looking at here, whether it is acknowledged or not is the forced secularization of this entire process. The momentum towards secularization in this country will not stop until every religious agency that has any connection with the public square is forced to recant of those religious convictions and join the revolution and get in line. That's exactly what's going on here. The Courier-Journal story tells us that Baptist leaders in the state had called the office of the Governor "urging him to reconsider."
It will be very interesting to see if the governor does reconsider. This is an interesting political predicament for this governor. But then again, maybe it's not. You would think that getting elected the governor of a state as conservative as Kentucky would require at least some political concession to the fact that the majority of people in Kentucky identify as Christian and are extremely likely to understand the religious convictions that are held by an organization such as Sunrise Children's Services allied with the Kentucky Baptist Convention. You would think that there would have to be some respect for, or concession to those beliefs. But you would think wrongly. Because in the case of, for instance, a Democrat elected as the Governor of Kentucky, you're looking at the reality that the largest momentum behind such an election is coming from more liberal portions of the state, particularly cities such as Louisville, and the LGBTQ movement at both the state and the level has an outsized influence. That and that alone would explain the change that has produced this news story.
That's also true at the national level. It is virtually inconceivable that someone who is even just less enthusiastic about the LGBTQ revolution could rise to any prominence in the democratic party. That is now far beyond imagination. This story does set up quite a dynamic. It's going to be interesting to see what happens in a state like Kentucky. Let's just state the obvious. Kentucky is not Massachusetts. Kentucky is not nearly so liberal as Massachusetts is going to be very interesting to see what kind of pressure is brought on the Kentucky Governor. But it's also going to be very interesting to see the kinds of people who demand that the state not offer such an exemption, not make any accommodation because the commitment is more to the LGBTQ+ revolution than it is to helping children in need. By now, that should be obvious.
Continued Capitulation to the Moral Revolutionaries—Putting the Well-Being of Vulnerable Children at Stake
But next at the same time, we have seen one major national capitulation that has made headline news.
And that is Bethany Christian Services, which had been clearly allied with evangelical Christianity and had been supported by and utilized by any number of evangelicals in this country. But we saw that Bethany Christian Services just completely surrendered and capitulated to the LGBTQ revolution. A matter of months ago, Bethany simply announced that it was going to adopt a nationwide policy of LGBTQ+ inclusion. And that of course said it at odds with its own evangelical base. But when you're looking at this, you need to recognize something else. The big money, when it comes to funding these agencies does not come overwhelmingly from evangelical or religious donors. It comes from state money. And that reminds us that in most states, the states have needy children. They have to find some way of helping those children. The state does not directly run these programs, but has to partner with other agencies, mostly nonprofit agencies.
Again, the overwhelming majority of them, at least historically Christian in origin, in order to see these children cared for. We're also looking at something else in the secularization of this society one of the aspects has been the fact that when you're looking at childcare as well as medical care, many of those issues, many of those ministries have been simply taken out of the hands of the very religious entities that gave them birth. Hospitals, healthcare systems, adoption agencies, childcare centers, many of them have been effectively secularized by the fact that the state has been taking on more and more of a role. And with the state money comes state control.
But yet at the same time, it still remains true that in almost all of our states, the states cannot carry this out themselves. They are dependent upon children's foster care adoption agencies such as these, but you see the pressure. And Bethany Christian Services simply caved to the pressure. They caved even as a major case that could well result in the Supreme Court deciding that Christian ministries, religious ministries have a right to operate on religious conviction, even when it comes to foster care and adoption, even as that case is now before the Supreme Court with a decision expected by the end of June, Bethany simply capitulated.
But now there's a larger context in which we understand that Bethany is not just capitulated on that issue. It has basically joined the larger moral revolution. And now we see full evidence that issues such as critical race theory and everything else are now a part of the daily operations of this formerly evangelical childcare entity. Now they still identify themselves as evangelical, but as an evangelical theologian, I will simply say that is not something I'm going to take without protest and redefinition. Bethany recently released a report with the innocuous title, "What the Pandemic Taught Us: Innovative Practice Report by Bethany Christian Services." It's a very well-produced document. But in it, there are some very clear messages sent. For example, what are the lessons that Bethany says it learned is this, "Case closure trends at Bethany suggests that the pandemic only exacerbated existing inequities within child welfare." Very interesting language. Language we understand is very much a part of current controversies in this culture.
But they then go on to write, "From 2019 to 2020, the sites included in this study saw a 9% decrease in black children leaving foster care. Black children who did successfully leave care there was a 10% increase in their exit due to adoption. Similarly, black children also have the lowest reunification rates in 2019 and 2020. It is noteworthy says the report to mention that most black children adopted through Bethany are adopted by white families and due to Multiethnic Placement Act restrictions limited action can be taken by child placing agencies to ensure these families will appropriately preserve black children's cultural heritage."
Well, that's a mouthful to say the least, but Naomi Schaefer Riley of the American Enterprise Institute wrote a column about this news and Newsweek magazine with a headline, Wokeness has come for adoption. It's the children who will suffer. And there is no doubt that she's right. Wokeness has come for adoption because it's coming for every dimension of our society.
In order to understand the point that was actually made by Bethany, it comes down to this. Bethany is arguing that a federal act and known as the Multiethnic Placement Act, an act that was put in place explicitly to allow more white families to adopt black children because of the incredible needs of many black children in foster care and in other kinds of situations. A law that had that very intention is here criticized. Bethany is calling for it to be modified so that racial considerations be taken into account when they're making the adoption and foster care decisions. Later in the report, we read that the Multiethnic Placement Act, "Prevents professional social workers from assessing whether a family is unqualified or unprepared to appropriately parent a child of another race and prohibits child welfare professional from offering families additional trans racial parenting training." Now, it's fascinating.
We don't have time to take all that apart, but understand what's going on here. This is basically the influence of critical race theory coming into the realm of adoption and foster care. With an organization that just recently announced its capitulation on the LGBTQ issues now making very clear that it is broadening its identity in other ways as well. Now, just to look at this from a Christian worldview perspective, we're looking at the fact that these children's ministries were put in place in order to help children in need. We're also looking at the fact that that particular federal act was put in place so that there would be more children whose needs needed to be met, who could actually have those needs met through foster care or adoption, even if that meant by a family of a different racial identity. But here's where you need to know what's happening.
The issue of racial identity is becoming so absolutely primary, it is becoming so virtually transcendent, that is to say it transcends the importance of all other issues that you have here at the implicit argument that if white parents adopt a black child, the black child is being robbed of a cultural heritage. And just understand where this leads. It also leads explicitly in statements made by Bethany to the fact that they are looking to social work professionals to do an assessment of whether or not a prospective foster care or adoption family is actually able to recognize these racial issues in such a way that will meet the expectations of the social work profession. A profession that by the way is deeply, deeply committed to something like critical race theory. We discussed earlier the inevitable collision between the newly invented LGBTQ rights of the sexual revolution and the constitutional liberties that were respected even at the time of the constitution's framing and founding including religious Liberty.
But we're also looking at another basic collision. And that collision is between the right of Christian institutions to operate on Christian principles and that means that there are issues that transcend the importance of race and those who now argue that virtually no issues transcend the modern constructs of racial identity. In other words, children are going to suffer because of the impact of identity politics. Now, Christians need to understand that when we talk about these issues, they are not uncomplicated. We're not acting as if this is absolutely easy. We're certainly not suggesting that assessing and understanding the needs of a particular child from a particular family and assessing a particular family that might serve that child in foster care or adoption, we do not pretend for a moment that that is an easy process, nor would we assume that we know best how to state upfront how that process should be put in place.
But we do know this. When that is driven by considerations, other than the good of the child, when that is expanded out to a racial identity, or an ethnic identity, or a political or socioeconomic identity when identity politics invades, well, we have a major problem here and Christians must be the first to recognize that. But when it comes to Bethany Christian Services, it's clear where this is headed. An article by the Associated Press reporter David Crary cited Bethany saying, "It is the nation's largest evangelical Christian child welfare agency in over the decades was viewed warily by some children's rights advocates for policies, they perceived as too heavily focused on adoption instead of family preservation." Crary goes on to say, "Bethany has evolved in recent years ending its international adoption programs and announcing that it would begin serving LGBTQ parents nationwide." Sherry Williams, speaking on behalf of Bethany said, "Bethany historically has been an exclusive organization. We've been on a journey to being a much more inclusive one, realizing the value of keeping families together and broadening the coalition of people we're engaging."
Well, once again, in that sentence there are a lot of words, but you need to notice the juxtaposition between the past in which William says Bethany has been an exclusive organization and the present in the future when we're told the organization is now committed to a journey of being a much more inclusive organization. Well, that's understand those two words. Exclusive and inclusive in this context means the abandonment of Christian conviction. It means the redefinition of the family. It means basically bringing in all kinds of considerations that are now politically urgent. And that's a long way from the founding vision of an entity that was established first of all, to care for children in need.
But they're in this report and also in the news coming out of Kentucky, we see the kind of choice that is being presented to so many Christian denominations, organizations, congregations and ministries surrender, or go out of business, surrender or stop taking care of children. And we've now seen the most glaring case of the outright surrender. Even before the Supreme Court has decided the key question here. Here in Kentucky, well, the story is the Sunrise Children's Services will not surrender. It hasn't surrendered. But the state of Kentucky is demanding surrender. That's the bottom line. That's what makes a story, a big story. And that's why we're going to be watching it so closely.
Corporate America Lines Up to Get on “The Right Side of History”: More Than 400 Major Companies Publicly Support the Equality Act
Finally, as the week comes to an end, remember that the looming legislative threat to religious Liberty is entitled the Equality Act. It has already passed the House of Representatives twice. It is now coming before the Senate. We don't have a timetable, but President Joe Biden campaigned on the issue.
And even as president in his statement to a joint session of Congress days ago called for it to be adopted, members of his own parties stood up and applauded his call. But the reality is that the Equality Act would redefine and subvert religious liberty. In a very real sense it would mean the end of religious liberty because something else would have been placed as a higher constitutional and moral order. In this case, it will be a law, so-called Equality Act adopted by Congress. And this President's indicated that if Congress adopts it, he will sign it into effect. But one of the things we need to note in closing is that revolutions like this are driven by and funded by corporations that decide is in their best interest to be seen on, well, you've heard this before the right side of history. A report by Michael [inaudible 00:21:26] tells us that the Human Rights Campaign has announced that its business coalition for the Equality Act has grown to more than 400 major companies, who were also told and reminded that the Human Rights Campaign is the nation's largest LGBTQ organization.
We're told that the list of businesses who are now avidly calling for and funding the cause of the Equality Act include airlines, American, United, Delta, and Southwest, media companies, Apple, Netflix, Walt Disney, AT&T, Sony, Verizon and Comcast, food companies, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft, Mars and Hershey, grocery stores, including Food Lion, Albertsons, Target, and Kellogg, Facebook and Twitter are on the list as well. Now, the fact that you may not have heard one corporate name or another on this list doesn't mean that that company is not on this list or trying its best to get on this list. This tells us a great deal about how corporate America sees the future. They want to be on that right side of history. And here you see the conflict being driven by and funded by corporations that employ millions of people and corporations that depend upon millions and millions of evangelical Christians to buy their products and their services and fly on their airlines.
Looking at a list like this reminds us that for Christians living in this kind of economy, there is no safe place and there is no escape. But it's also true that Christian should make sure that the companies on this list have no escape from the moral responsibility of being on this list. And that means calling for a redefinition and a reduction of religious liberty in the United States. These companies will tell you that they didn't sign up for that, but nonetheless, that's exactly what they signed up for.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing.
Today is Commencement Day at Boyce College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. We have long prayed for this day and it is a glorious display of God's promise to his church and these young graduates from both the college and the seminary being sent out into the world, into the pulpit, into church service. I want to invite you to be a part of those ceremonies. If you'd like, there'll be streamed live at sbts.edu/live. That's sbts.edu/live. I'll be speaking at both of these commencements. Boyce College at 10:00 in the morning. Southern Seminary at 3:00 in the afternoon. If you can't join us either in person or by live stream, then pray for these graduates and share our joy.
For more information, go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com.
I'll meet you again on Monday for The Briefing.