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Family Pride
chides religious right on adoption

Family Pride
chides religious right on adoption

A campaign by U.S. religious-right groups to soften their image by finding homes for children drew a cautious response from the Family Pride Coalition, which urged Friday that prospective adopters also find room in their hearts for tolerance.

"We welcome the efforts of Focus on the Family and other Christian fundamentalists to direct their vast resources toward creating families rather than attacking them," Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Pride Coalition, said in a written statement. "We can only hope that, as part of their efforts, they will also cease their attempts to block qualified LGBT parents from fostering and adopting children in need."

James Dobson's Focus on the Family and best-selling author Rick Warren are among those backing the initiative, partly to answer criticism that their movement, while condemning abortion and same-sex adoption, doesn't do enough for the 500,000 U.S. children without parents.

Warren and others are scheduled to speak at a summit May 9-11 at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo., that aims to elevate the initiative onto the national stage, the Associated Press reported.

Yet sensitive issues lie ahead--about evangelizing, religious attitudes on corporal punishment, gay and lesbian foster children, racially mixed families, and resolving long-standing tensions between religious groups and the government, AP reported.

The new campaign urges churches to follow the example of groups such as Denver-based Project 1.27, which takes its name from a James 1:27 passage to "look after orphans and widows in their distress."

Project 1.27 has agreements with five Colorado counties to provide training to prospective foster parents. So far, families have taken in 47 children, and 21 children have been permanently adopted, executive director Christopher Padbury said. The group receives no money from counties.

Although Padbury said politics is not at the forefront of the effort, it is a factor: "If we are spending all our time complaining about homosexuals adopting, then why are we not coming forward to adopt these kids?"

Sharen Ford, a Colorado Division of Child Welfare Services manager, said some county workers initially presumed "church people beat their kids" or argued that the initiative was exclusively Christian.

In Colorado and other states, the rules are firm on disciplining foster children, some of whom have been badly mistreated: No physical contact is allowed. Because corporal punishment is common among many evangelical parents, alternatives such as loss of privileges and "time outs" are urged, Ford said.

Still other questions have arisen over gay and lesbian foster children. The Child Welfare League of America, which opposes efforts to change a child's sexual orientation, encourages case workers to talk with prospective parents and children about sexual orientation, said Rob Woronoff, who works on this issue for the group.

"Better to discuss that than have someone answer, 'I'll take any child,' and make the child's life miserable," Woronoff said.

The Family Pride Coalition, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., is famed for getting LGBT participation in the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn to increase the visibility of LGBT families.

Chrisler said her group "will be watching these organizations to see how they follow through on this professed commitment." (The Advocate)

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