Mike and Kitty Burke are a Catholic couple from Massachusetts who have long wanted to become parents. Mike is an Iraq war veteran, Kitty is a former paraprofessional for special needs kids, and together they run a business and perform music for Mass. Mike and Kitty began exploring becoming foster parents through the state’s foster care program, hoping to care for and eventually adopt children in need of a stable, loving home like theirs. Over 1,500 children are currently without a foster family.
The application process included hours of training, extensive interviews, and a detailed examination of their home. The couple successfully completed the training with high marks from the instructors. But during their home interviews, their Roman Catholic views about sexual orientation and gender dysphoria became intense. Even when they said they would love and accept any child, no matter the child’s future sexual orientation or struggles with gender identity, they said they would continue to hold personally the positions of their church. Because of this, the interviewers deemed “Their faith is not supportive.” DCF officials prevented them from being licensed. While the denial was certainly consistent with the views of the Commonwealth agency and perhaps even expected, it was unconstitutional. Massachusetts law, like every state law consistent with the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, protects the religious liberty of foster parents.
Why would a Missouri Synod Lutheran be interested in this? Because we are in the same boat. If it is a choice between maintaining the faith of the Scriptures and our Confessions or denying them for the sake of satisfying the regulations of this or any state, we are put in an untenable and unconstitutional position. Everybody with half a brain knows this. Yet this has not and will not keep the liberal and progressive positions of state governments and their agencies from attempting to violate said religious freedom. This is the battle we are in. We cannot expect to be treated fairly by bureaucracies populated by those who take such positions antagonistic to the orthodox and catholic faith. The challenge here is not to maintain an idea but to confront the opposition in practice faced on a daily basis by those who hold to the faith of Scripture against liberal viewpoints of many civil servants and state agencies.
I do not believe we face an organized opposition but I do believe that state agencies and federal agencies have become populated with those who are products of liberal educational institutions and whose positions on such issues are to the left of even the mainstream of the US population. I do believe that this has become the de facto perspective of a majority of those who occupy the higher positions in such agencies as well as the bar they have set for those interested in working in such agencies to the point where the collision of faith and culture, values formed by the Scriptures and the orthodox Christian faith against the values of our educational institutions and policy makers at large is inevitable. This will not be the last of such conflicts and the Supreme Court will have its work cut out for it as they remind such militants that such animus against religion is unconstitutional.