NOTICE: Beshear Administration Discriminates Kentucky Baptist Adoption Provider
By ANDREW WALKER
In some major news Thursday, Courier-Journal headlines reported that the Commonwealth of Kentucky under the administration of Governor Andy Beshear has terminated its contract with the Sunrise Children’s Services of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
The dispute is that Sunrise cannot sign any state contracts to provide adoption and foster care services in Kentucky that would require the organization to renounce its religious beliefs. This comes in the context of state and federal contracts requiring faith-based organizations to adhere to hiring and placement standards that contradict the organization’s teaching on how their organization will hire and in which homes it will place employees. children.
In a hugely misleading and intellectually dishonest headline, the Commonwealth’s largest and most influential newspaper, the Courier-Journal, framed Thursday’s news as Sunrise “Turns Down Kentucky State Contract to Provide Care to abused and neglected children. This title is terribly biased. This gives the impression that Sunrise is arbitrarily withdrawing from the state contract when in reality, the Beshear administration’s inflexible commitment to the sexual revolution forces Sunrise to choose either the integrity of the organization’s beliefs. , or its ability to serve children. The Beshear administration is at fault for putting Sunrise in an unworkable situation, but you would never know from the coverage Beshear’s allies in the media are giving it.
Kentucky Baptist Pastor Steve Weaver on Twitter replied in the title noting that the opposite is, in fact, correct: “misleading title,” Weaver said. “The Baptist group continues to care for abused and neglected children and is keen to continue receiving recommendations from the state to do so. However, the state now refuses to grant a religious exemption for sincere religious beliefs as it has done in the past.
We cannot ignore the irony and contradiction at the heart of this situation. In the name of “non-discrimination”, the Beshear administration engages in discrimination. It’s that simple. The idea that progressives promote “tolerance” and “inclusion” is a bait and switch where the terms only apply to the extent that progressivism defines the word. How absurd that “tolerance” and “inclusion” are the buzzwords deployed in this latest example of undo culture to literally undo Sunrise.
In previous Democratic and Republican administrations, Sunrise received an “addendum” to their state contract that allowed their First Amendment rights to remain intact. This means that the actions taken by the Beshear administration are not only unnecessary, but also evidence of capricious retribution. And who is the victim? Not, in the end, Sunrise, but the children in his care who will now have more difficulty finding accommodation because his operations are hampered. Previous administrations (like his father’s) protected religious freedom, but Governor Beshear bowed to the worst of elite coastal liberalism.
The saddest irony is that in his campaign for governor, Andy Beshear touted his family’s Baptist faith as a way to communicate his down-to-earth familiarity with Kentuckians. What a rhetorical false use of the Baptist faith to manipulate Kentuckians into believing that he shares their beliefs when his actions prove the exact opposite.
To be clear, Andy Beshear himself is not a Baptist. He and his family are members of Beargrass Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Louisville.
The great myth of religious freedom adoption and foster care disputes is that harmful and heinous discrimination progresses with the use of taxpayer dollars. First, these cases are not true cases of discrimination. Second, religious organizations retain their constitutional rights even when partnering with the state. Third, the fact that a particular agency does not hire or place according to certain beliefs does not prevent others from adopting or promoting elsewhere through an alternative agency. These conflicts demonstrate the need for states to adopt legislation protecting the religious freedom of similar organizations. Legislation in several states has acted to protect the religious freedom of these organizations without scandal or difficulty.
In the coming weeks, the United States Supreme Court will rule on Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, which will have far-reaching implications for similar cases nationwide.
As of this writing, Sunrise is redoubling its efforts to see if the Beshear administration will relinquish its position and reissue the contract with the necessary addendum. Such a move would be the right deed: Sunrise would continue to do what it does best – care for children, and the state would find the last resort to protect the Constitution’s First Freedom, religious freedom.
Andrew Walker is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics and Apologetics, Associate Dean of the School of Theology, and Director of the Carl FH Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.