Homosexuals, foster care facing MBCH
MBC leaders meet with Governor Blunt to discuss concerns
BRIDGETON – Despite remarks that seemed to suggest the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (MBCH) might not stop homosexuals from being foster parents through the MBCH, the Home’s president says that will not happen with his knowledge.
“The real issue is not that homosexuals can be foster parents,” Raymond Kenison, president of the MBCH, said in the board’s July 25 meeting. “The real issue is that Christians won’t.
“The MBCH has always looked for the most suitable home for children and the policy of the state is to look for the most suitable home for children,” he said. “If you and I believe that a Christian home is the most suitable home, then we should be filling up the rolls.”
Kenison did not elaborate on what he meant by a “suitable home,” while noting that the state’s policy on whether homosexuals can be foster parents may change. Since the MBCH receives some state funds, questions have arisen as to whether it will allow homosexual foster parents if the state does.
The state’s policy became an issue after a bill signed into law in June repealed Missouri’s law prohibiting sodomy. The bill was an attempt to clear “the state’s law books” after the law was ruled unconstitutional when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar law in Texas in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case. That prompted a ruling in February by Jackson County Circuit Judge Sandra Midkiff who said, as a result of the Missouri law’s abolishment, the state could no longer prevent two lesbians from obtaining a foster care license. That led Attorney General Jay Nixon to conclude that the state no longer has any basis to deny homosexuals the opportunity to become foster parents and announce he would not appeal Midkiff’s ruling – over the objections of Gov. Matt Blunt.
Ralph Sawyer, pastor, First Baptist Church, Wentzville, and president of the MBC (which accounts for $557,000 of the MBCH’s budget, not including another $127,000 from the Missouri Missions Offering) and MBC Executive Director David Clippard met with the governor July 12 and raised the foster child issue. They were given assurance by Blunt that his administration opposes homosexuals being foster parents and that his staff was continuing to study the issue and determine the best way to proceed following Nixon’s decision not to appeal.
It is possible the Missouri General Assembly may address the matter with a new law next year.
Kenison went on to expand on his definition of a “suitable home” in a subsequent phone interview with The Pathway.
“What we’re looking for is a Christian couple – a man and a woman – with a church that will recommend them.”
When asked if the MBCH would place children with homosexual couples, Kenison said “not with my knowledge.” He did say, however, that there is pressure to find foster parents. If the state pressured the MBCH to place children with homosexuals because no other foster parents could be found, Kenison said his reply would be that “this is not the best choice. Give us another week to keep looking.”
He also said that he and the MBCH “are not endorsing or condoning homosexuality.” Further, Kenison said he believes the law has been incorrectly interpreted as it applies to foster parents.
At least one trustee thought Kenison’s remarks were confusing as to whether or not the MBCH would allow homosexuals to be foster parents. Trustee Bill Vail, pastor of First Baptist, Poplar Bluff, and a member of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, said that after speaking with Kenison one-on-one, he believes the MBCH will uphold its traditional stance toward potential foster parents.
“I do wish he had been clearer when speaking to the board,” he said.
Kenison said his point in addressing the board was so they would have a full view of the issue when they go to the state Capitol and speak with lawmakers.
“I don’t want us to get lost in a fight against homosexuals and forget that children need homes.”
Rodney Albert, the chairman of the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) Christian Life Commission, said that a stable home with a Christian mother and father is the best and only option.
“Would they be better off with homosexual parents if they didn’t have anywhere else? No. Anything other than a mother and a father amounts to child abuse,” Albert said.
“I’ve had homosexual friends and I’ve found them to be very caring,” he said. “However, they’re misguided in believing that they can help children. I would hope that we would learn something from divorce. We used to think that ‘love would see them through.’ But kids have been devastated by having only one parent. Having parents of only one gender can have brutal results.”
Although, as Kenison says, more than 1,000 children in Missouri need foster homes, Sawyer said broadening the potential parent base to include homosexuals would have severe consequences.
“It creates more problems than it solves,” he said. “The adverse effects are devastating. You can’t just gloss over that.
“We need to call people to pray,” Sawyer continued. “I think that’s what Kenison is trying to do.”
In other business conducted by the board: Kenison reported that the Home’s financial position is in good shape, with gifts from wills and bequests 50 percent above budget for the year, even though the year is only half completed.
The board also saw a preview of a promotional DVD to be used in getting the MBCH’s message out. The finished product will be between 45 and 60 minutes and will feature the home’s Family ministries, a testimony from foster parents and stories of volunteers. The DVD will be ready in the fall.