Home / Special Sections / Adoption/Foster Parenting / Religious liberty in jeopardy in Kansas

Religious liberty in jeopardy in Kansas

The Kansas House of Representatives has rejected HB 2481, the Adoption Protection Act, by a vote of 58 to 64, thus jeopardizing religious liberty in the state of Kansas. The law would preserve the ability of faith-based adoption-service providers like Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services to do their critical work of helping kids find a family, supporting birth mothers, and preparing adoptive parents.

“Christian agencies whose policies follow their faith in placing children with only a married man and woman have been forced to close in several states by far-left activists and the ACLU, who reject the work of any organization that doesn’t embrace the gay-rights litmus test,” said Phillip Cosby of American Family Association of KS & MO.

The House failed to support Christian adoptions despite the fact that the same bill passed the Senate earlier the same day by a wide margin, 28-12.

Yes, some lawmakers do want to drive faith-based organizations out of the public sphere. The debate over the Adoption Protection Act revealed they’re coming for churches. They’re coming for hospitals. They’re coming for the YMCA and private colleges or any organization founded on religious principles.

Until they began debating the Adoption Protection Act, most legislators steered clear of saying out loud that they wished people would relegate their religious practices to a back closet in their homes–never to see their faith put into action in the outside world. But it’s not a secret anymore, after 16 Kansas senators voted in favor of an amendment that would strip any government funds from faith-based adoption agencies. The apparent hostility to religion was displayed more broadly in the Kansas House, where 64 House members opposed the current practice of allowing faith-based agencies to operate according to their faiths.

Senate President Susan Wagle said the prejudice Senators displayed towards Catholics was “extremely disappointing.”

“The faith that houses, clothes, feeds and provides health care to people all over the world was referred to as ‘sick,’” Wagle said.

Yes, Sen. Barbara Bollier used the word “sick” to refer to the tenets of Catholicism during Senate debate. The newspapers lauded her for it. In the future, other Senators are likely to view religious hostility as a way to reap glowing praise from papers. Bollier’s comments fully exposed why the Adoption Protection Act is necessary.

 

WHAT THE VOTE MEANS

When Cara DeCoursey faced an unplanned pregnancy 28 years ago, the Catholic teen knew she was going to give her child up for adoption.

“I found strength in a faith-based adoption agency. Choosing adoption, for me, was a decision made out of necessity. I was too young to raise a baby,” she said. “It was a decision made out of love. I wanted what was best for my child and that was a mom and a dad. I was born and raised Catholic and this is what I wanted for my son.”

DeCoursey offered written and verbal testimony to Kansas lawmakers last week in defense of a proposal known as the Adoption Protection Act. The legislation would codify current practices in Kansas, allowing private adoption services to operate according to their faith.

Eric Teetsel, president of the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, said in other states, agencies like the one DeCoursey used nearly 30 years ago are under attack.

“Some would rather see these agencies close their doors than be able to serve if their service is inspired by beliefs with which they don’t agree,” Teetsel said.

“The only reason to oppose this bill is if you believe that Kansas should stop allowing current faith-based providers to continue operating as licensed agencies,” Austin Vincent, an adoption attorney, told legislators.

In places like San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, D.C. faith-based adoption agencies were forced to shutter or violate their religious beliefs. The Kansas legislation doesn’t create new rights for adoption agencies, but it affirms the status quo in order pre-empt the potential of future attacks.

Several states including North Dakota, Virginia, Rhode Island, Michigan, Mississippi, South Dakota and Texas have passed similar laws protecting faith-based adoption agencies, but the Kansas proposal met stiff resistance.

Sixteen Senators voted in favor of disallowing even fees for service to be used for faith-based organizations, proving the validity of the need to protect faith-based adoption agencies. They include Sens. Bollier, Doll, Faust-Goudeau, Hawk, Hensley, Holland, Kelly, Longbine, Mcginn, Pettey, Rogers, V. Schmidt, Skubal, Sykes, and Taylor.

In the House, 64 lawmakers opposed the legislation. They include Reps. Alcala, Baker, Ballard, Barker, Becker, Bishop, Brim, Burroughs, Carlin, Carmichael, Clayton, Concannon, Cox, Crum, S., Curtis, Deere, Dierks, Finch, Finney, Francis, Frownfelter, Gallagher, Gartner, Helgerson, Henderson, Hibbard, Highberger, Hineman, Hodge, Holscher, Horn, Jennings, Judd-Jenkins, Kessinger, Koesten, Kuether, Lusk, Markley, Miller, Murnan, Neighbor, Ohaebosim, Ousley, Parker, F. Patton, Phillips, Pittman, Probst, Ralph, Rooker, Ruiz, Sawyer, Schreiber, Sloan, Stogsdill, S. Swanson, Thompson, Trimmer, Ward, Waymaster, Weigel, Whipple, Winn, and Wolfe Moore.

Family Policy Alliance of Kansas president Eric Teetsel said people keep asking why there’s a need for the Adoption Protection Act.

“I think the clearest example is the opposition to the bill. In their opposition, people continue to express opinions that demonstrate the need to protect faith-based groups,” Teetsel said.

It’s uncertain just how far those 16 senators are willing to take their underlying logic behind their vote to disallow governmental fees-for-service to faith-based organizations. Someone should ask, preferably before the next time they have an opportunity to revoke state funding for things like YMCA after school daycare programs, faith-based hospitals and colleges. Their votes serve as a warning that many legislators think people of faith should be relegated to underground rooms far removed from public life.

As Teetsel puts it, “It should be an eye opener for anybody who is affiliated in any way with a faith-based institution.”

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

HERE IS THE LIST OF NO VOTES in the Kansas House, by name, county and contact info. Only four representatives need to change their earlier vote to let the Adoption Protection Act pass.

If your representative voted no, and you want to urge them to reconsider, you can call their office or email them and ask them to support a new House floor vote on HB 2481, The Adoption Protection Act.

 

                    — sentinelksmo.org contributed to this report.

X
X