Bethany Christian Services, the largest Christian adoption agency in the U.S., has announced a new policy of inclusivity that will allow LGBTQ+ people to foster and adopt in all 32 of the states its serves.
Bethany's new policy — which does not include the phrase LGBTQ+ or even the words gay, lesbian or transgender — reads in its entirety as follows.
"Whereas, Bethany recognizes that Christians of mutual good faith can reasonably disagree on various doctrinal issues, about which Bethany does not maintain an organizational position; and Whereas, Bethany aspires to be a diverse coalition of Christians in pursuit of its mission; Therefore, the Corporate Board of Directors hereby resolves to implement a nationwide policy of inclusivity in order to serve all families across Bethany's core service lines."
Bethany's board passed the policy change with a vote of 14-0. Bethany had already been working with LGBTQ+ families in Michigan since May of 2019 when it reached a settlement with the state after a lawsuit was filed by the ACLU of Michigan and a new policy was issued by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
"Our goal is always to provide safe, loving and stable homes to as many vulnerable children as possible," said Bethany President and CEO Chris Palusky in a letter to Bethany staff issued this week. "With that vision at heart, Bethany's corporate board of directors unanimously approved consistent inclusive practices across all of Bethany's core service lines. This means we will now offer services with the love and compassion of Jesus to the many types of families who exist in our world today.
"Our commitment to serve the vulnerable has not changed, but we will not take positions on the many doctrinal issues for which Christians disagree," the statement continued. "We are committed to building a diverse coalition of Christians from various backgrounds and denominations who are passionate about helping children in great need. We're taking an 'all-hands-on deck' approach where all are welcome."
The move was praised by the ACLU of Michigan, which released a statement on the decision.
"We applaud Bethany Christian's decision to work with same-sex couples who want to provide loving and supportive homes for foster children," the statement read in part. "When an agency chooses to accept tax dollars to provide public child welfare services, they must put the needs of children first. LGBTQ families seeking to foster and adopt a child from foster care should be judged based on one thing only: their ability to care for and provide a stable home for children."