Kansas Governor Signs Bill Protecting Religious Convictions of Foster, Adoption Agencies

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Republican governor of Kansas has signed a bill into law that protects the convictions of religious foster care and adoption agencies, in that the government is prohibited from punishing such organizations for declining to place children in certain households when doing so would violate the tenets of their faith.

“The actions taken in this bill will prevent discrimination against faith-based agencies of any faith, of any creed, of any religion,” said Gov. Jeff Colyer, who signed the legislation Friday at the Youth Horizons Kinloch Price Boys Ranch, a faith-based nonprofit that helps troubled youth.

He referenced the case out of Michigan involving St. Vincent Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services, as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the Michigan Children’s Services Agency in September in an effort to stop state officials from contracting with any child placement agency that “employ[s] religious criteria in decisions regarding the screening of prospective foster and adoptive parents.”

“It’s unfortunate that in some states, Catholic charities … and other faith-based organizations have had to close down shop in places like Illinois, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Boston, Massachusetts,” Colyer, a Roman Catholic, stated. “They’re doing it because of state and local laws that don’t allow them to practice their religion. So we must do whatever we can to prevent this from happening and protect all the options for our children.”

S.B. 284, which passed the House 63-58 and the Senate 24-15, states that “no child placement agency shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer or otherwise participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement of such child would violate such agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”

It also prohibits the government from revoking a faith-based agency’s license or permit “solely because of the agency’s objection to performing, assisting, counseling, recommending, consenting to, referring or otherwise participating in a placement that violates such agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Homosexual advocacy groups have decried the legislation as being discriminatory, and assert that it would discourage homosexuals from pursuing adoption.

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Lori Ross of FosterAdopt Connect told The Wichita Eagle that while she believes religious organizations have a right to operate in accordance with their faith, she doesn’t believe that taxpayer money should be granted to agencies that “discriminate” in home placement decisions.

“It is completely unfair that those same people who are going to be discouraged from fostering and adopting are going to be paying taxes into the state that are going to be used to pay agencies to do work that would discriminate against them,” she said.

“There’s nobody, myself included, that says a religious-based organization doesn’t have a right to practice whatever their deeply held religious beliefs are. When it becomes a problem is when public dollars are being used to fund a service.”

However, others who have commented on similar bills have noted that those involved in homosexuality do not need to approach Christian or Catholic foster and adoption agencies and try to force them to violate their beliefs when there are secular agencies available.

“We do not see this bill as discriminatory,” Colyer stated during the signing ceremony. “Discrimination based on sexual orientation nor sincerely-held beliefs—either one of them—are not good for the people of the state of Kansas.”

The late preacher and author Art Katz once said, “[W]e ought to look different, speak differently, act differently, that there ought to be such a savor and fragrance about us of Christ that it is a savor of death unto death itself and life unto life to others. The fact that the world can so easily tolerate us, the fact of the almost complete absence of reproach, let alone persecution, is itself a shameful testimony that we are so [much] like the world that we cannot be distinguished from it.”

“I believe that God could lay at the door of the Church the full responsibility for the present condition of the world. And the things over which we cluck our tongues and point our fingers and look [with] disdain down our noses about are the things which can be attributed to us, for we have not established in the earth a standard and an alternative to which a dying world might have turned,” he declared.

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