Showing posts with label Religion/homophobia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion/homophobia. Show all posts

January 16, 2020

"The Seal of The Confession is Sacrosanct" But Not For Gay Service Members Being Outed By Their Pastors




 


 By Christine Rousselle
Catholic News Agency

London, England, Jan 14, 2020, / 04:00 pm (CNA).- U.K. Minister of Defense Johnny Mercer has issued an apology to lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members who were reportedly outed by military chaplains. He issued the apology at an event recognizing the anniversary of the repeal of the United Kingdom’s ban on homosexual members of the military.

“Our policy regarding LGB members in the military was unacceptable then, and as a defense minister, I personally apologize for those experiences,” said Mercer at an event held Jan. 9 and again in a statement to CNA Jan. 14. 

“Pastoral encounters between service chaplains and personnel should be strictly confidential.”

LGBT campaigners have alleged that over a period of years Catholic military chaplains, as well as Church of England chaplains, regularly violated the seal of confession and informed military superiors of the identities of lesbian, gay, or bisexual members of the military. These service members were then discharged as homosexuality was not permitted in the military until January 2000. 

LGBT activist Edmund Hall, a former Royal Navy sub-lieutenant, claims that he has spoken to over 100 self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual members of the military who were dismissed due to their sexuality. 


Hall told The Sunday Times Jan. 12 that while these former servicemembers “were dismissed in all sorts of circumstances,” confessing homosexual behavior to chaplains “was certainly one of those circumstances.”

Elaine Chambers, who co-founded a group advocating for the inclusion of homosexual men and women in the military, told The Sunday Times saying that it was “absolutely shocking” that priests “used to break the rules of the confessional.”

“[Our members] told somebody, thinking, ‘I am just getting it off my chest,’ and the next thing you know, that has led to the military police knocking on your door and that could only have come from the padres,” she said.

Breaking the sacramental seal of confession is a grave crime in the Catholic Church, and incurs a latae sententiae (automatic) ex-communication. Priests are expected to keep the secrets of their penitents confidential, even if the penitent confesses to a serious crime or treason. 

Patrick Lyster-Todd, another "gay rights" activist, told The Sunday Times that a letter was allegedly sent by Cardinal Basil Hume, then Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, to military chaplains in 1994. This letter allegedly emphasized that the seal of confession was sacrosanct and could not be violated.

Lyster-Todd claimed that once this letter was written, the outings stopped.

A secretary for the Catholic Bishopric of the Armed Forces for the U.K. told CNA Jan. 14 that it could not comment on that claim, because officials are checking archives in an attempt to locate any such letter, and then confirm what specifically was written, and to whom it was addressed.

“Knowledge of the information is for the priest, the penitent and God,” Bishop Paul Mason of the Armed Forces said to The Sunday Times.

“Information gained in the context of sacramental confession may not be used in any other forum.”

CNA contacted the Archdiocese of Westminster and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for comment on the allegations of violation of the seal, and to confirm the alleged letter from Cardinal Hume, but has not yet received a response.


Hall stated that the Ministry of Defense instructed the chaplains to put military efficiency above their spiritual duties. 

“Would you expect a chaplain to withhold the fact that someone was giving away their location to a Russian submarine? At the time, the [Ministry of Defense’]s view was that homosexuality was in the same category--that it would damage the efficacy of the units,” he told The Times.

While Hall suggested that a priest would be obliged to report acts of espionage confessed to him, Church law admits no exception to the secrecy of the confessional.

In 2001, former FBI agent Robert Hanssen was arrested and pled guilty to 15 counts of espionage. Hanssen, a practicing Catholic, repeatedly confessed his crimes to a priest, who did not report what he did to the authorities. 

Conversations that occur outside of the context of a sacramental confession, even if they occur in the context of counseling or mentorship, do not fall under the seal of confession. If a servicemember went to a chaplain seeking advice and revealed, inadvertently or purposefully, a same-sex relationship, the chaplain would not be bound to keep that a secret as though it were made in confession. 

Despite a focus on sacramental confession in the allegations of LGB activists, Hall’s comments to the press are actually ambiguous as to whether priests may, in fact, have violated the seal of confession. Some remarks from Hall suggest that the context of “confessions” may have been pastoral or other guidance, but not a sacramental confession.

He said that chaplains were “welfare officers” who heard “issues of a highly personal nature” about a person's marriage, family, and faith life, but did not offer specific allegations concerning violations of the sacramental seal.

“What was more damaging was not any particular case where it may or may not have happened,” said Hall. “It was the fact that the threat of it happening removes the key pastoral support option for people going through the toughest time of their life. Because you knew you couldn’t talk to a chaplain, so who the hell could you talk to?”

January 1, 2020

An Evangelical Ministry Founded Solely to The Eradication of LGBTQ Since 2007 Closes



                                          
Saying he is pursuing new employment avenues and theological currents, Mike Wilkerson announced the end of his anti-gay Redemption Group Network. Apparently going after gays is not as financially rewarding as one was, so this Mister Will be reaching for better issues$.



BY DUNCAN OSBORNE


An evangelical ministry that was dedicated to supporting church groups that have the eradication of homosexuality as part of their mission shut down on December 31 after operating for roughly a decade. 
“It’s time to say goodbye to Redemption Group Network, the non-profit organization founded to support the training and development of Redemption Groups,” Mike Wilkerson, the founder and executive director of the network, wrote in a November 26 email. “We’ll be closing down by December 31st, 2019 and discontinuing all activities, including hosting the content on redemptiongroups.com and any training or licensing for Redemption Groups.”
Wilkerson developed the structure for redemption groups in 2007 and 2008 when he was a pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, a mega-church that was founded by Mark Driscoll, a now-disgraced pastor who was known for his right-wing views on theology and social matters. The theory that underpinned redemption groups was that the doctrine used in any church group had to conform to the doctrine that was preached from the church’s pulpit. 
In 2011, Wilkerson published “Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry,” which was the textbook for redemption groups. The book treats eating disorders, alcohol and drug addiction, and other known mental illnesses as sins or forms of suffering that are best addressed with religious doctrine and practice. Same-sex attraction, which is not a mental illness according to every major mental health organization in North America, is another sin or form of suffering that can be ameliorated by participating in a redemption group, the book argues. It also addresses behaviors, such as using pornography, that is not a mental illness, but maybe disturbing for an evangelical.
Wilkerson’s book uses the Book of Exodus, an Old Testament book, as the model for freeing participants from sin. Exodus tells the story of the Israelites winning freedom from slavery under the Egyptians. Wilkerson devotes an entire chapter to telling the story of Ben who “spent years living in the bondage of a homosexual lifestyle.” In another chapter, the book mentions a man named Steve who struggled with his attraction for older men. The book has a blurb by Nate, who “spent a decade in habitual sin and idol worship, including lust and homosexual prostituti­on.” This view is consistent with Driscoll’s preaching.
In a 2005 sermon on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Driscoll said, “This society is so gross that not only are the men perverted, but they pervert their boys and their boys beat them to the orgy… I want you to just feel the sickness that’s in this town... Every man eats dinner and runs to the homosexual rape orgy, and the boys are keeping pace with the men.”
The Sodom myth tells the story of two angels who visit Lot in Sodom. All the males in the town gather outside Lot’s home and ask to have sex with the angels.
In 2014, Driscoll was fired from Mars Hill, which had grown to 15 locations drawing an estimated 15,000 worshippers on Sundays, after disclosures that he had plagiarized other authors in his books, hired a private agency to make bulk purchases of his books to boost their rankings on bestseller lists and run Mars Hill in an authoritarian fashion. He is now the pastor at The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. Mars Hill shut down. 
Searches for “redemption groups” suggest that these groups are currently operating at churches across the country through the numbers appear to be small. A number of churches that are part of the Acts 29 Network, a church-planting group that Driscoll co-founded in 1998, appear to use the curriculum. 
The Sojourn Network, another church-planting organization, also appears to have churches, including one in New York City, that use or have used the redemption group model and Wilkerson’s book. The Apostles Church Network, which has churches in Manhattan and Brooklyn, operated redemption groups and recommended Wilkerson’s book as recently as 2016. Apostles are part of the Sojourn Network.
The rankings on Amazon in “Christian spiritual growth” and “Christian pastoral counseling” suggest that the book sells, but not particularly well. The Redemption Group Network was a 501(c)(3) and its Forms 990 show that it raised just under $40,000 in 2016, just under $20,000 in 2017, and just over $11,000 in 2018.
“I’m no longer the person to provide leadership for Redemption Group Network, both because of my need to pursue financially viable work and also because I’m changing theologically such that it’s no longer a good fit for me to write, teach, and train in support of Redemption Groups,” Wilkerson wrote on the group’s website. “Both developments — vocational and spiritual — have occurred organically over the past few years, as those of you with whom I’ve stayed in touch know well.”
Wilkerson would not speak on the record and The Apostles Church Network did not respond to an email seeking comment.

November 13, 2019

Catholic School Threatens to Out Student to Parents Meanwhile The Students Walk





Courtesy photo
Magali Rodriguez
Students at a California Catholic high school staged a walkout Friday following a BuzzFeed News report that a gay classmate said she was singled out by school officials, who threatened to out her to her parents.
High school senior Magali Rodriguez attended Bishop Amat Memorial High School, the largest Catholic school in the Los Angeles area, for three years. The school has no written policy barring same-sex relationships, but Rodriguez said that once she began dating a female student she was forced into disciplinary meetings and counseling, and barred from sitting next to her girlfriend at lunch.
If she didn't follow these rules — which didn't apply to straight students in relationships — Rodriguez said school officials threatened to out her to her parents, who didn't know she was gay at the time.
Following the publication of BuzzFeed News' reporting on Rodriguez Thursday, Bishop Amat students organized a walkout in support of her Friday.
Several students BuzzFeed News spoke to Saturday said they hadn't heard about Rodriguez's experience prior to the article, and were shocked to learn how she was treated.
"I never would’ve imagined Amat to be an environment like this," said one student, who declined to be named. "Once I started to read about the article I was in full shock. I decided to walk out to stand up for her."
Rodriguez's parents eventually pulled her out of the school when they heard about how the staff was treating her. She now attends a different high school in the area.
The student who declined to be named said they staged the walkout during the seventh period until the end of the school day on Friday, about an hour and a half. The student said some teachers had commented that there were "two sides to every story," but none tried to stop the protest.


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Bishop Amat students 
"I feel as if the principal knew they messed up. Before the bell rang for lunch he made an announcement saying he was aware of the news article," the student said, adding that counseling services were offered in the school's library for any students who had questions.
Because Rodriguez is now attending another high school, some of her friends called her via FaceTime, the student said, while others chanted for her and said a prayer.
About 200 students took part in the walkout, according to a second student who declined to be named because her mom didn't want her to talk about the incident. The student said teachers were supervising the protest but didn't try to shut it down.
"I decided to walk out because I wanted to take a stand," the student said. "I didn’t agree with what the administration did with the situation, and I feel like it was a good idea for the student body to stand as one to show our support for Magali." 
The school tweeted a statement following BuzzFeed News' original report, denying that it was intolerant of LGBTQ students and reiterating that "excessive displays of affection" are not permitted for students of any sexual orientation. (Rodriguez told BuzzFeed News she and her girlfriend were not publicly affectionate.)
"Bishop Amat High School is committed to providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students, irrespective of their sexual orientation," the statement reads.
Calls to the school were not immediately returned Saturday.



Please read this official statement from President Monsignor Carroll and Principal Richard Beck concerning the recent media reports involving our school.


View image on Twitter



Rodriguez's first encounter with the school regarding her sexuality came when she began dating her girlfriend in freshman year, at which point she said the school's dean told the couple that there had been complaints about their relationship, and that it was "wrong."
The dean informed Rodriguez that if she continued attending disciplinary meetings and sessions with the school psychologist, her parents would not be informed of her relationship, Rodriguez said. She said she was so scared of her family finding out that she and her girlfriend both agreed.
Rodriguez said despite the fact that the two were not publicly affectionate at school, she and her girlfriend were constantly watched. One staff member even approached the girls during summer school to tell them they were going to hell and that she was trying to get them expelled, Rodriguez claimed. 
Her grades and mental health suffered due to the school's scrutiny, Rodriguez said, so she decided out to speak up — after coming out to her parents in a letter.
"I really don't want it to happen to anybody else," Rodriguez told BuzzFeed News this week.
When Rodriguez's parents heard their daughter's story earlier this school year, they pulled her out of Bishop Amat and enrolled her in another local high school.
"They took it upon themselves to parent our daughter, to counsel her, to lecture her," her mom, Martha Tapia-Rodriguez, told BuzzFeed News.


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Bishop Amat students
Multiple students BuzzFeed News spoke with described Rodriguez as kind and positive and said they were shocked to hear how she was allegedly treated by Bishop Amat staffers. 
"When I got to the school last year as a transfer I really had no friends, but once I met her she started to help me make friends," a Bishop Amat sophomore, who asked to be identified by his initials, D.G., said of Rodriguez. "She was one of my best friends that I can call at any time, so when I heard about all of this I texted her and once she told me that it was true, then I had to do something."

August 22, 2019

Evangelicals Are Most Likely To Adopt BUT What Happens When The Adoptee is Also LGBT?


                               


Comedian Joel Kim Booster performs onstage during the TBS Comedy Festival in 2017. (Getty)
                       
Evangelical Christians are the religious group most likely to adopt but are also most likely to oppose homosexuality, which can make life complicated for gay adopted kids.


Late one night a few years ago, my 14-year-old daughter, Kayla, texted me. 
She’d prefixed her contact name in my cellphone to read “911,” a way of asserting her significance in my life. Seeing it always made me smile. It was after midnight, but I dutifully respondedText bubbles danced for long moments on my screen before her next message popped up:
I blinked. My finger hovered uncertainly over my iPhone screen as I read and reread her text.

My husband and I had adopted Kayla and her brother, Devon, out of foster care over a decade earlier. When she first came to live with us, she was 2, with dimples, gobs of curly hair, and an offbeat sense of humor. Her freckle-faced brother, Devon, was 3. Kayla didn’t yet have a conscious awareness of her sexual identity, and it didn’t occur to me she might be gay. I was far more concerned about her low self-esteem and difficulties with attachment as she adjusted into our family.
I was raised in the heady, evangelical Christian movement of the ’80s and ’90s. For many years, I unquestioningly accepted the belief that homosexuality was wrong and a behavioral choice, but during my thirties, I became disenchanted with the religion of my youth. I reconsidered the tenets of my faith and the shortfalls of organized religion and its anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-gun political agenda.
During that time, my conservative ideology shifted, including my stance on LGBTQ issues. I worked from home and often chatted over IM with my coworker Brian about our kids. He had an adopted teenage son, a few years older than my kids, and was the most devoted and involved dad I knew. I imagined his family — his wife and son — to be happy and close just like my own family.
But Brian didn’t have a wife. I eventually discovered he had a partner named Chris. They’d been together for more years than most married couples I knew, defying the evangelical stereotype of gay men as unfit parents, incapable of monogamy. Despite the prejudice against same-sex couples, they were successfully raising a happy and healthy adopted son. Witnessing this reality, I was compelled to evaluate my beliefs about the LGBTQ community and my positions on issues like gay marriage and adoption.
After years of soul-searching, I left the evangelical church behind. I embraced a more progressive Christianity — one that would prepare me for the late-night texting with my daughter only a couple years later.
Swikar Patel for BuzzFeed N
Portrait of Kayla Williams and her dog, Pocket, in her Charlotte home on July 28. Pocket can only walk for a little bit, so Williams often carries her most of the way.
ews
That night, when Kayla nervously texted me, I wasn’t conflicted about her sexuality. The only reason my finger hovered over my iPhone screen was that I wasn’t sure how to formulate a response that would adequately assure her of my love and acceptance.
Afraid to let the seconds stretch into a message of their own, I responded: 
 Kayla has since had two girlfriends and has come out to friends and family. As I’ve watched her blossom into her authentic self, I’m haunted by how things could have gone so differently for her if my religious convictions had not evolved.
Our situation is not unique. According to the Adoption Network, there are 135,000 children adopted each year, most from foster care, like Kayla was. And based on a 2014 UCLA School of Law study, more than 1 in 5 kids in the foster care system is LGBTQ.
Conservative Christians are the religious group most likely to adopt, but also the group most likely to oppose homosexuality. Many Christian adopters are licensed by faith-based agencies like the one I adopted through.
These agencies, which historically do not work with LGBTQ couples, are the cornerstone of the child welfare system in the US. For example, according to a 2017 story in the Arkansas Times, a single faith-based organization recruits over half the state’s foster homes. Faith-based agencies’ ubiquity has led to ongoing legal battles over whether faith-based agencies who refuse to work with same-sex couples should continue to receive government funding.
In the meantime, LGBTQ adoptees placed in anti-gay families by faith-based agencies face all sorts of difficulties — and significant long-term impacts to their health and well-being.  Every adoption, no matter how positive, starts with separation and loss. Some situations are more challenging than others. For example, children adopted out of foster care or orphanages may have been neglected, abused, or abandoned. According to a report by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, trauma like this, especially during the first five years of life, when the brain is most vulnerable, can cause a child’s brain not to develop optimally.
“Children who are abused and neglected early in life can internalize loss and betrayal. They view the world as unsafe and unpredictable,” said Forrest Lien of Lifespan Trauma Consulting. “Adoption doesn’t erase these impacts. Even in the most nurturing and loving of homes, healing these deep hurts takes years as well as effective professional intervention.” Research shows children with early childhood trauma are at higher risk for substance abuse, incarceration, mental health issues, and chronic physical diseases than their peers.
Adoptees have a lot stacked against them even if they don’t have to wrestle with their sexual identity in a family that might be anti-gay. “A sense of rejection is already present for the adopted foster child. Being rejected for a fundamental part of ‘self’ cuts even deeper,” explained Kelly Crenshaw, a reverend based in Maryland who advocates for LGBTQ youth. “It’s another piece of baggage to carry through life that just makes things more complicated: Are people going to accept me? Will I be allowed to date? Do I have to hide my real self? What if my family doesn’t want me anymore?”
When we went through the process to adopt Kayla, a toddler at the time, our Christian agency didn’t ask how we would feel if we later discovered she was LGBTQ. Like Kayla, many children are adopted too young to be aware of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and it’s the furthest thing from the minds of their adoptive parents when they jump in heart-first. 
That said, conservative Christians don’t necessarily shy away from adopting children who think they are gay. Many view homosexuality as the behavior they can help the child overcome — like overeating or lying. These adapters are confident that with proper parenting and religious instruction, they can keep their child from the “homosexual lifestyle.” This is the sincere, albeit ignorant, belief of most conservative Christians.
Unfortunately, even the most sincere convictions, by the most well-intentioned people, can be incredibly damaging. Alex was adopted into a loving family and attended a Christian school from kindergarten through 12th grade. He appeared to have it all — a private school education, devoted parents, and the affluence to go on expensive vacations. Alex was also gay. 
He first began to grapple with his sexual identity in third grade when his Christian school classmates mocked his seemingly effeminate behavior. Even though he knew he likely was gay, he sensed it was something to be ashamed of. He’d heard his mother make snarky comments like, “Don’t act like such a girl.” And in school and church, the message was loud and clear: Christians can’t be gay.
Alex became convinced something was intrinsically wrong with him. He was uncomfortable at school, church, and home. “I didn’t want to be gay. For the longest time I suppressed who I was. I tried to ignore it,” he told me in an interview in June. “I would pray about it and beg God to change me.” He even tried masturbating while imagining girls, but nothing worked.
In high school, Alex’s teacher cornered him one day after their Marriage and Family class. She had spent the last few weeks teaching about “the life cycle of the homosexual man” and the unavoidable, tragic consequences faced by those who acted on same-sex attraction. She asked Alex if he was struggling with homosexual feelings and said it was common for adopted kids, especially if they had domineering mothers and passive fathers. While pressuring him to confess, the teacher assured Alex that he could be fixed.
Despite her persistence, Alex adamantly denied he was gay. After all, the “fix” for gayness would have included prayer, Bible study, being forced to embrace “correct” gendered behavior, and school discipline — including possible expulsion. 
These are common approaches among many conservative Christian parents, churches, and other institutions. Focus on the Family, an evangelical organization that’s a leading authority in conservative Christian circles, says on its website, “Homosexual behavior is just one of the many sins God forgives and brings people out of.” Based on this ideology, some evangelical parents may enroll their LGBTQ kids in classes or programs designed to help those “confused about their sexuality” accept “God’s best” for their lives — heterosexuality.
Conversion therapy is another destructive practice, explored in recent films like Boy Erased and The Miseducation of Cameron Post. While the recently reintroduced “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” includes protections to safeguard adopted children from conversion therapy, it continues to be a frightening option in most states.
According to the Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people, these damaging practices are startlingly common. “In some cases, adoptive parents who are not supportive of their LGBTQ children may attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity,” says Amy E. Green, director of research for the Trevor Project. “In fact, 2 in 3 LGBTQ youth reported that someone tried to convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, which resulted in almost triple the rate of youth attempting suicide in the past year.”
Alex kept his secret throughout high school and only began to understand being gay wasn’t dirty or wrong when he was exposed to a wider swath of people and ideas during college. He began to live openly with his friends but still kept the secret from his parents. He says, “I was nervous if they found out, they’d cut me off and I’d be on my own. I avoided spending a lot of time with them because I had to act differently around them. I was always afraid of slipping up.” 
Now 23 years old, Alex has earned a college degree and recently started a new job. He asked that I not use his real name for this story because he still hasn’t come out to his adoptive parents. He is uncertain what their response will be but says he won’t breathe easy until he knows he’s able to independently support himself. According to a 2015 Pew Research survey, only 30% of the members of the largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptists, believe homosexuality should be accepted in society. This statistic might drop even lower if the respondents were asked if they believe homosexuality should be accepted in their own family.
“When LGBTQ young people see their sexual orientation or gender identity up for public debate using harmful rhetoric, they can feel that their lives are worth less than their straight or cisgender peers,” says Green. The statistics bear this out with disproportionately higher suicide rates and soaring homelessness among LGBTQ youth. 
“Until they really get to know LGBTQ people — including LGBTQ Christians — and hear our stories, some Christians have mistaken beliefs about us and our lives,” says Justin Lee, an LGBTQ Christian activist and the author of 2012’s Torn: Rescuing The Gospel From the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate. “In many cases, they think they’re showing ‘tough love’ and actually helping us with their hurtful language. But because they’ve never walked in our shoes, they don’t realize how their words push people away from their own families and even from their faith.”
Over the last handful of years, many conservative Christian churches and institutions have recognized how alienating their anti-gay agenda can be and have consequently changed their language around the issue. Some nonaffirming church denominations, including the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, Southern Baptist Convention, and Assemblies of God, offer programs for those struggling with “unwanted” same-sex attraction but are unwilling to accept for membership those who are out and plan to remain so.
Others, like the popular megachurch Hillsong, “welcome” members of the LGBTQ community, while not actually affirming them. LGBTQ people are encouraged to attend, but they cannot occupy roles of leadership in the church. And while Hillsong does not list its belief that homosexuality is sinful clearly on its website, it is documented in its statement of faith. While the language used by some of these churches has changed, their fundamental beliefs have not.
These same churches are active in the adoption movement. Crenshaw said, “I believe that many people honestly desire to help neglected and abused children. And many of those who want to help come from faith communities that promote reaching out into their communities. Unfortunately, many of these faith communities turn out to be among the more conservative of our Christian brothers and sisters.”  
Like many Christians, I became a foster parent and later adopted based on an appeal from the pulpit. The pastor of our Florida megachurch called on the congregation of more than 20,000 to single-handedly end the “orphan crisis” in our county by becoming foster parents or adopting.
The adoption mandate for Christians is rooted in James 1:27, which says pure religion is caring for orphans in distress. Many Christians view adoption as a way to walk out their faith. In addition, adoption is considered a way to offer a religious upbringing to adoptees.
Christians began to champion adoption in the early 2000s by forming adoption ministries and throwing their support behind faith-based agencies, including the agency I used. Over time, they’ve come to monopolize the adoption market, given their access to highly motivated and passionate recruits. This led to a boom in expensive and ethically dubious international adoptions, which tapered off over the last decade due to new international restrictions. However, Christians remain passionate about adopting, particularly adopting children domestically out of foster care.
Churches and faith-based organizations provide valuable support — often not found elsewhere — to adoptive families, including childcare and financial services, support, community groups, and advocacy. Each year, thousands of well-meaning Christiansinvest their money, time, energy, and other resources into adoption. 
However, their compassion is lost in translation when it comes to LGBTQ young people. “They often don’t realize how much pain they’re inflicting on LGBTQ people by refusing to accept them, but they are. It’s incredibly damaging,” says Lee.
Comedian Joel Kim Booster was born in South Korea and adopted as an infant by a conservative Christian couple from the Midwest. When Booster realized he was gay as a young child, he knew his parents would not be accepting. “I had no idea what their response would be,” he says, “but when you’re 16, you sort of assume the worst. That was the narrative at the time around conservative parents: They find out, they kick you out, and you’re fucked, or they send you to conversion therapy and you’re fucked in a whole different set of ways. I was worried about both of those outcomes.” Once they found out, Booster knew the relationship was too toxic to remain living at home, so he left.
Far too often, adopted LGBTQ children, like Booster, become the collateral damage of the anti-gay convictions of their well-meaning Christian parents. “I have worked with so many kids and teens who don’t fit in with the parents who raise them,” says Crenshaw. “They did their best to fit in, but as a square peg in a round hole; it never quite worked out.” 
Now that children are coming out as LGBTQ at younger and younger ages, many are actively exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity when they are adopted. If we had known Kayla identified as LGBTQ when we first adopted her, what might we have done with that information? Using an ideological standard to approve adoptive parents is a slippery slope, akin to what faith-based agencies have done by excluding same-sex couples from adopting. Furthermore, there are ethical and practical concerns with collecting information about the sexual orientation of kids who are being adopted.
The Family Acceptance Project (FAP) of San Francisco State University is working to change the discourse around LGBTQ acceptance from “right and wrong” to “health and wellness.” Its evidence-based research has shown this can protect the well-being of LGBTQ youth even in families where the parents believe homosexuality is wrong.
“We have found that families can learn to support their LGBTQ children when information is presented in ways that resonate with their values and beliefs — to protect their children and to help them have a good life, to strengthen and keep their families together. In essence, what we have done is to give families a different way of thinking about their LGBTQ children by shifting the discourse on homosexuality from morality to health and well-being,” wrote FAP’s director, Caitlin Ryan, in a 2014 report. 
Lee grew up in a Southern Baptist family and remains a devout Christian. He educates conservative Christian parents about the needs of their LGBTQ children and is hopeful there is a way forward for these families. He says, “Parents and children may not always agree on morals and theology, but they can still have a healthy relationship if they have healthy, open lines of communication.”
With hundreds of thousands of children waiting in foster care to be adopted, and thousands of conservative Christian families stepping up to help, these are the types of approaches needed to ensure LGBTQ adoptees grow up in healthy and nurturing homes.
I’m glad Kayla felt safe to come out to me, even if it was through a late-night text message. Now 16, she says, “First I told some of my friends and then my brother. I wanted to tell you because I felt uncomfortable whenever you talked about me dating boys. It was hard because it’s a big thing and I didn’t know what you would say.”
Kayla told me she’s relieved she doesn’t have to hide being gay from me because she’s seen how it affects her LGBTQ friends. “It stressed me and my ex-girlfriend out because her parents don’t know she is gay. She feels like she can’t tell them until she is able to move out.” 
Coming out can be a scary moment for any young person, but even more so for adopted kids. By coming out, they risk losing their tenuous, budding relationships with new family members. They may be risking everything.
Alex says he’s felt emotionally disconnected from his parents for a long time. “Our relationship could have been different if I didn’t have to hide who I was. No kid deserves to live in a family where they aren’t accepted and loved for who they are.” ●

Keri Williams lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family. She's a mental health and adoption advocate. She blogs at www.raisingdevon.com and you can find her on social media @RaisingDevon.

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