A well-known Christian adoption agency said Monday it will begin placing children in LGBTQ homes as part of a new approach to adoption services.
Bethany Christian Services, the nation’s largest Protestant adoption agency, made the announcement in an email to staff members that was signed by the ministry’s president, Chris Palusky.
“We will now offer services with the love and compassion of Jesus to the many types of families who exist in our world today,” Palusky wrote, according to the New York Times. “We’re taking an ‘all hands on deck’ approach where all are welcome.”
The Times broke the story.
The change in policy comes two years after Bethany announced it would begin placing children in LGBT homes in Michigan as part of a settlement with the state attorney general that requires all adoption agencies that contract with the state to work with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples.
In 2018, Bethany made a similar change in policy in Philadelphia that allowed it to resume its foster care and adoption work with the city. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bethany changed its policy to conform to the city’s anti-discrimination laws. Bethany also agreed to train its staff on “cultural competency for serving individuals and same-sex couples who are LGBTQ,” The Inquirer reported.
Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia took a different path and chose to fight the city in court rather than change its policy. The U.S. Supreme Court heard Catholic Social Services' case in November and appeared ready to side with the Catholic ministry in what would be a major ruling for religious liberty. A decision is expected before July. The city wants to force Catholic Social Services to place same-sex couples in homes. The Catholic ministry says it should be allowed to refer such same-sex couples to other agencies that would accommodate them.
Bethany’s new national policy was approved by its 14-member national board on Jan. 21, the Times reports. The policy states that “Christians of mutual good faith can reasonably disagree on various doctrinal issues, about which Bethany does not maintain an organizational position.”
“We’re opening the door to more families and more churches,” said Susanne Jordan, a board member. “We recognize there are people who will not be happy. We may lose some donors. But the message we’re trying to give is inviting people alongside of us. Serving children should not be controversial.”
Bethany’s mission states: “Bethany demonstrates the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting children, empowering youth, and strengthening families through quality social services.”
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., expressed disappointment in Bethany’s decision, saying the agency capitulated.
Mohler contrasted how Catholic Charities reacted – by fighting it all the way to the Supreme Court – with how Bethany responded.
“Back in 2018, when this controversy arose in the City of Philadelphia, Bethany basically surrendered,” Mohler said Tuesday on his Briefing podcast. “... Bethany Christian Services surrendered even before the war had been fought.”
Mohler called the new policy “historic.”
“These Christian organizations were put in place by Christians on Christian commitment because we genuinely believe that a child deserves a mother and a father,” Mohler said. “We genuinely believe that marriage can only be the union of a man and a woman. These are not just positioned statements that the Christian church has decided to adopt. We believe, and you can check the Bible for yourself, this is biblical Christianity. This is demanded of us.”
Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said Catholic Social Services has been referring same-sex couples in Philadelphia to other agencies, including Bethany. Becket represented Catholic Social Services and two foster moms at the Supreme Court.
“Bethany Christian Services in Philadelphia began placing foster children with LGBTQ families years ago, and it is one of many agencies Catholic Charities in Philadelphia could refer LGBTQ couples should they need a home study,” Windham told Christian Headlines. “This illustrates what Catholic Social Services has said from the beginning: that there are many options available for LGBTQ families, and there is no need to take options away from children and families by shutting down agencies with different religious beliefs. Catholic Social Services serves children regardless of their race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation, and wants to continue doing so.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.