Oklahoma & Kansas Adoption Bills Protect Religious Liberty

Legislation passed in Oklahoma and Kansas to protect the religious liberty of adoption agencies has drawn praise from Baptist leaders in those states and criticism from homosexual activist groups.

In Oklahoma, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 1140 on May 11. The measure protects private organizations from being required to take part in the placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the action would violate their “written religious or moral convictions or policies.” The law permits faith-based adoption agencies to abide by their religious convictions in refusing to place children with same-sex couples.

Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma Executive Director Hance Dilbeck supported the bill along with former BGCO Executive Director Anthony Jordan.

“We are grateful to Gov. Fallin and the Oklahoma legislative members who approved Senate Bill 1140, the adoption protection measure,” Dilbeck said in a statement. “This much-needed bill not only protects and advances religious liberty, it ensures the strength and future of the faith-based adoption and foster care agencies who serve so many children and families in Oklahoma.”

Greg McNeece, president of the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, told Baptist Press SB 1140 doesn’t affect OBHC because the ministry does not contract with the state to place adoptive or foster children. But he applauded the legislation, stating “it prevents a faith-based organization from being forced to basically do away with their God-given call and their God-given mission” to uphold Scripture’s standards for the family.

Fallin said in a statement that the bill “allows faith-based agencies that contract with Oklahoma to continue to operate in accordance with their beliefs…. Other states that have declined the protection to faith-based agencies have seen these agencies close their doors, leaving less options for successful placement of children who need loving parents.”

In conjunction with signing the bill, Fallin also underscored her commitment “to preserving the rights of all Oklahomans who are eligible and want to be considered for parenting.” She directed the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to publish a list of organizations willing to serve all individuals who meet the state’s requirements for being foster or adoptive parents.

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Source: Baptist Press