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Christian leaders react to Bethany Christian Services allowing LGBT couples to foster, adopt

Adoption, same-sex couples
Reuters/Victor Ruiz Garcia

Christian leaders have expressed disappointment after Bethany Christian Services, the largest Protestant adoption and foster agency in the United States, announced it will now be offering its services to LGBT couples.

On Monday, the Michigan-based group announced it will begin placing children in LGBT families nationwide. In a statement to The Christian Post, Nathan Bult, senior vice president of the historically evangelical organization, said that faith in Jesus is at the “core” of their mission," but they are "not claiming a position on the various doctrinal issues about which Christians may disagree."

"We acknowledge that discussions about doctrine are important, but our sole job is to determine if a family can provide a safe, stable environment for children. Unlike many other child and family welfare organizations, Bethany is committed to partnering with churches to find as many families for vulnerable children as possible, and we seek to place children with families that share our mission.

"For us to carry out our mission, we are building a broad coalition of Christians – finding families and resources for children in the greatest need. The people we serve deserve to know they are worthy of being safe, loved, and connected. The need is great, so we are taking an ‘all hands on deck’ approach.

"We believe that Christians with diverse beliefs can unify around our mission of demonstrating the love and compassion of Jesus. It's an ambitious mission, and we can only accomplish it together.”

The international agency said it will begin training all its employees, including those at locations that have not worked with gay couples. 

The announcement represents a shift for Bethany, an evangelical organization that has the stated aim of demonstrating the “love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting children, empowering youth, and strengthening families through quality social services.”

According to its website, Bethany facilitated 3,406 foster placements and 1,123 adoptions in 2019 and has offices in 32 states. The group says it abides by Matthew 25:40: “I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.”

Bethany’s latest decision was met with disappointment from evangelical and Christian leaders.

Southern Baptist leader Al Mohler said that in choosing to open its services to LGBT couples, Bethany decided to “meet the demands of the moral revolutionaries.”

“The moral revolutionaries are now demanding that every single individual in this society every single institution, every single school, every single religious denomination, every single adoption, and foster care agency, must pivot ... In this case, that means capitulation, it means absolute surrender to the demands of the LGBTQ community, and now we're just talking about generalized the political left in the United States,” he said on a Tuesday edition of “The Briefing.”

“We are now seeing a head-on collision between organizations like Bethany Christian services that had been very committed to a Christian understanding of marriage and the family and human sexuality and gender … and the government.”

Mohler said Bethany has surrendered the “Christian convictional part” in order to retain its partnership with the government. 

“Christians have to understand: If you're redefining marriage, if you're redefining parent and family, you are redefining civilization,” he said.

Jim Daly, head of Focus on the Family, tweeted that “Bethany Christian Services should not have to choose between holding to their deeply held religious convictions and serving children and families.”

“No government should tell any ministry how to run their ministry, let alone violate deeply held biblical principles,” he added.

Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, said Bethany’s decision is a “very disappointing capitulation to cultural pressure.”

“Children need a dad and a mom in a healthy, biblical home. God’s Word is clear,” he tweeted

“I am disappointed in this decision, as are many,” Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said. “This move will harm already existing efforts to enable faith-based orphan care ministries to serve the vulnerable without capitulating on core Christian convictions.”

Though Bethany previously referred LGBT prospective foster and adoptive parents to other agencies, the organization began placing foster children with same-sex couples in 2019 after a legal battle in Michigan.

At the time, the agency announced that despite the decision, its beliefs have not changed.

“Bethany will continue operations in Michigan, in compliance with our legal contract requirements. The mission and beliefs of Bethany Christian Services have not changed,” the agency said at the time. “We are focused on demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by serving children in need, and we intend to continue doing so in Michigan.”

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