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
"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."
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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