Parents Denied Foster License Over Gender Beliefs

In the first segment, our panelists discuss the significance of deconstructing dams to protect salmon, a sacred animal for Native Nations in the American Pacific Northwest. They examine the cultural, religious, and ecological importance of salmon and the ongoing efforts to restore their habitat by removing dams along the Klamath River. In the second segment of the show, we explore the court case Burke v. Walsh, where a Massachusetts couple, Mike and Kitty Burke, face discrimination in their application to become foster parents due to their religious beliefs about marriage and sexuality. The case raises questions about religious freedom and discrimination in foster care placement. About the Show: Faith and Politics is a show dedicated to discussing issues surrounding the intersection of Church, State and politics and the examination of whether you are allowing your faith to shape your politics or your politics starting to shape your faith. What do you do when God and government come face to face? Panelists: Carmela Monk-Crawford, Editor of Message Magazine; Melissa Reid, Director of Government Affairs for the North American Division of the SDA Church; Bettina Krause, Editor of Liberty Magazine; Dr. Lawrence Brown, Senior Pastor of the Queensboro Seventh-day Adventist Church in New York City About Us: North American Division Public Affairs & Religious Liberty (PARL) is a ministry dedicated to proclaiming and defending the God-given gift of religious freedom which is integral to our identity as Seventh-day Adventist Christians. Learn more about PARL at Here is what we’ll cover in this video: 00:00 Show opener 00:27 Introduction 01:21 Deconstructing Dams to Protect Salmon - Sacred Animal for Native Americans 13:40 Burke v. Walsh 26:09 Tell Me Something I Don't Know S2 Show id: 63

Faith and Politics

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[Music] [Music] [Music] welcome to Faith of politics a show dedicated to to discussing issues surrounding the intersection of church State and politics and the examination of whether you're allowing your faith to shape your politics or are your politics starting to shape your faith in other words what do you do when God and government come face to face I'm your host Orland Johnson let me introduce you to our guest panelists for today first we have Miss Carmela monk Crawford who's the editor of m
essage magazine we also have with us Miss Melissa Reid who's the director of government Affairs for the North American Division of the 7th Day Adventist Church we also have Miss batina Krauss who's the editor of Liberty magazine and we have Mr Lawrence Brown who's a senior pastor of the Queensboro 7-Day Adventist Church in New York City want to thank you guys for being here with us and looking forward to our conversation today you know there's an interesting Dynamic that's going on where we're t
rying to figure out how far do you go when you are trying to protect one's religious belief there's a concept that's been going on regarding how do you deal with something for example that many of society may seem to think it's just a natural part of what they may see as they go through for example a cycle as it relates to food and other things that happen in our country there's a matter regarding the deconstructing of dams to protect salmon because salmon in certain areas are a sacred animal fo
r certain Native Americans there's a Native American tribe that view salmon as being a sacred animal they view it as being something that's important in particular up in the Pacific Northwest area many people in the Northwest understand that the The clamo Falls that are there there's a dabbing process that takes place as it relates to the construction of energy and the production of electricity but then you also have these tribes that view salmon as being something that's sacred view it as being
something that symbolize abundance prosperity and fertility and in particular there's One Tribe that's called the Europe and the karuk and other native nations that have protested for decades regarding the damning of the clamo river and as a result we have now seen a lot of push back taking place to the point that now we are starting to hear that in the next quote unquote next cycle of activity maybe in the next year or so that these dams are now becoming undamned in other words it sounds like
all of this conversation and all of this push and the question regarding religious freedom and protection of all seems to be something that has actually made sense and really had some traction that take place so now we are looking at now how far do you go when you're trying to protect one's religious beliefs you know Melissa I look at a case like this and on one hand I enjoy the fact that the federal government and state authorities are willing to make changes to adhere to the religious beliefs
of certain Native Americans but on the other hand the cost of maybe going through a deconstruction taking place with the and the possibility of having to do this even more times I'm beginning to ask myself the question where do we draw the line in terms of how far you go to protect one's religious freedom and when are you getting to a point where every time something seems to impact one individual how do you determine how it impacts everyone else sure well Orland I think the state of California
U made the right decision with this as as you mentioned it's been a decades long uh frustration by these Native American tribes uh this is you know salmon is uh both of you know a dietary excuse me necessity for them it is also considered a sacred animal uh in their spiritual tradition and there is you know irrefutable evidence that there has been economic um uh implications because of these dams because because you see the number of uh salmon has been reduced significantly SI you since these da
ms have taken place uh unlike other sort of uh natural or or U man-made dams or structures there has there was not a mechanism put in place when these dams were constructed for the salmon to be able to spawn in that same way um and so I really feel like um you know this is a good faith uh request or or concern by the population the Native American population there again they're very upfront about yes this is a religious belief or you know of ours this is an animal that we consider sacred at the
but at the same time they were very upfront about the economic component and why that you know and why that was important as well and I think you know we see uh Native American religious freedom rights probably play out most often here in the United States as far as land and land use and we see that again in the west with you know conversations about oil drilling or or building on sacred uh ground or destruction of things and um again like when we talk about religious accommodation in the workpl
ace as we a Seventh Day Adventist often do we talk about sincerely held beliefs and I think very correctly so the the US court system has determined that that is not an area that it wants to get into is determining whether or not someone's belief system beliefs are sincerely held right they are not the church and they that's they don't view that as their function neither am I and so if someone is telling me and I think a decades long fight is indicative of a sincerely held belief then I'm going
to trust that that is the case you know patino what I'm trying to understand here is we've got this belief that this is something that's important from a religious perspective but it looks like this is also coupled with the idea that there's an economic benefit or a financial plus to this as well I have to ask myself the question if the finance wasn't there would we probably be very comfortable supporting the religious aspect of this or is this just one of those things where both sides just happ
en to benefit and you can kind of just claim victory on both sides of this or do we think that somebody was really thinking you know the religious belief is the way we really want to go what's your thought when you heard what was going on here well and what I think is is that Native Americans is ostensibly protected but in reality the courts have a really difficult time applying religious freedom principles to Native American beliefs and that's because you know you have all these theistic religi
ons like Islam and Christianity and Judaism and there's certain similarities in the forms like they all Worship in a special building they all have their own liturgies and way of worshiping which the content is different but the form is very similar and then you have the Native Americans coming along and saying well we just don't fit that mold and so our religious freedom claims kind of seem out there they seem like a pretext and you know you you think of the economic benefit and you say oh this
is just a pretext they're not genuine as Melissa pointed out you know there's this skepticism so I think what we need to do is to understand that religious freedom and the exercise of it doesn't need to look the same for everyone and if we try to fit it into that sort of judeo-christian mold we're going to be disadvantaging religious minorities you know there's a case Employment Division versus Smith which involved a Native American um practice of smoking PE a controlled substance this is back
in the 1990s you know we upended the court upended religious freedom protection because it wasn't prepared to um Embrace that Native American practice and protect it in the end it actually undermined religious freedom rights for everyone including Christians including mainstream religious faiths so my thinking is let's protect religious minorities as robustly as we can because it benefits everyone in the long term you know Carmela I understand that if someone is genuine and someone is sincere th
ose are some great and Noble characteristics to have and but even though you may be sincere you may be genuine about your belief in spaghetti or Pirates or or chicken or whatever the case may be when do we as a society come to the conclusion that I understand your sincerity I understand your genuiness but this has gone a little bit too far based on our societal Norms that we have established over the last couple hundred years is there a place for that type of conversation when we're thinking abo
ut these type of topics yeah I think we're starting to learn how to have these conversations we do not now but per perhaps we're starting to to have those sort of uh deeper conversations you look like a man who enjoys a little salmon but let's talk a little bit about what it is um when it is your culture and as part of your religious rights and what I think is very interesting about this case is your the specific religious um beliefs here not withstanding there is a an environmental an economic
catastrophe that's happening around the use of salmon you have to know that Salmon's lifestyle and how they work or life cycle and how they go from one Spa uh spawning Point all the way out to the ocean and back again how do they go back again if you've damned up the rivers and you've damned up the waterways and how does a a community of of of native tribes of First Nations people and uh how do they get the opportunity to fish as was outlined under treaties over 150 years ago if you Dam up and t
ake control of the riverways so it seems as though that a a more heartfelt and sincere recognition of different peoples their cultures their their uh practices would have helped us out a long time ago now we're looking at an environmental and economic catastrophe that deals with waterways our food sources jobs and energy and so many other things but Lawrence the whole purpose of this damning up process was really to cut down the cost of electricity in the Northwestern part of the United States y
ou know clamo Falls is probably one of the uh the biggest generators of power that they utilize there in a in an environmentally safe way so there was some real benefits for that that happened to draw in this whole issue regarding the salmon when you try to just the pose against those two things which side is society supposed to pick it's like you don't know who to root for sometimes well you know a colleague of mine once said to me we don't mean to do harm we just do it and unfortunately over a
nd over again that's the reality of the situation you know we just we we're so focused and so locked in on a certain objective and outcome that we fail to grasp the bigger picture today almost nobody listening to this program could Envision a world where when you're on your way to the supermarket or you're leaving the airport with your roller bag no one can Envision not having that way on the sidewalk where you can just roll down without being a gymnast but there once was a time in this country
when the force of law did not mandate that that had to be the case and so today we are all the beneficiaries of the fact that in looking out for our disabled population this was something that had to be done should time last I would like to think we will eventually get to a place where we look back on some of these issues and fights and say why did it take so much time for us to figure this out you know everybody that sits down with a little lemon and a little butter and and has a good time with
a with a piece of salmon should appreciate that when we look out for the rights of a few of us we ultimately end up looking out for the rights of many of us and that's really ought how it ought you be I'm going to have to let that be the last word but I think the more tolerant we become in society regarding those things that maybe we don't understand initially the better our society is going to be and hopefully we'll see more of this type of activity down the road you know the adoption of foste
r kids is one of the things that we see happening in the United States that probably is one of the most important things that we can engage in there's a court case that's called Burke versus Walsh in which you have Mike and kitty Burke who are a couple from Massachusetts that wanted to welcome men children into their family they applied to become foster parents they wanted to care for vulnerable children who were in need and and searching for a loving home uh they were denied their ability to ba
sically have foster children come into their home because their religious viewpoints did not align with some of the quote unquote issues of marriage and sexuality that the state of Massachusetts thought they should have been more comfortable with so when they applied to become parents they had to go under all of these hours of training in which they completed them successfully and then basically their instructor reported that they were going to be positive contributions to this whole program of
foster children but then they were eventually denied because they had expressed that they did not have the kind of openness as it related to opening up their children to the idea of understanding what's going on with same-sex marriage and transgender and things of that nature and all of a sudden the process ended for them you know Lawrence when we see that in our society one of the most important things that we can be doing is looking out for vulnerable children and then to see that there's a fa
mily who's willing to make this step and are told that you cannot move forward and do so because you're unwilling to basically start thinking about potential impacts as it relates to sexuality on children that you're bringing into your home and for some reason we're seeing more of these type of decisions taking place across the country and it is making me wonder are we still looking out for the best interest of children or are we simply looking out for the best interest of whatever the political
establishment may be in a particular jurisdiction I mean what are your thoughts on that Lawrence and and and where do you think we're going with this so there are a number of troubling things about this you know we we live in a time now where uh a Democrat will assume that a Republican is not ready to operate in best interest and a republican will assume that a Democrat is just way out in left field you have a couple that did everything they were asked to do not most not much everything not onl
y did they do everything that they were asked to do but they even demonstrated the capacity and this is important because some people don't have capacity these folks demonstrated the capacity to be able to say listen we have a belief system we feel a certain way about these things but that does not preclude us from being able to create a safe space in our home for children who may think this way or be this way now that's important that's important because for me there are a lot of things that I
believe and some things I even believe strongly but one of my superpowers is the ability and the capacity to understand that everybody in this world does not think like I do and even though I think I'm right almost all the time the reality is sometimes I'm not right and so by having the ability to leave room for how other people think how other people feel it makes me a better person I think and so you have a couple here that was able to demonstrate we can take these children in our home they wi
ll feel loved they will feel cared for and even though um our belief system uh is Divergent from how some of them may be we still are able to create a good space for them and the state still looked at them and said thanks but no thanks and that's a problem because too often when things are breaking the other way you you don't find this same reticence and I'm like listen folks we need to create a situation here where as long as certain markers certain boxes are checked we need to be able to move
forward that didn't happen here and it bothers me that it didn't happen here because fairness doesn't work for anybody unless it works for everybody or and can I can I add to what um Lawrence has just said here what is crazy about this case is that it's taking place against a background of a critical short shortage of foster homes across our nation I mean half of all states last year experienced a significant decline in the number of available foster homes and so because of what Lawrence has ide
ntified here this sort of unreasoning kneejerk sort of extreme approach to this issue a loving family has been counted out of this pool of potential Foster families you know let's not sugar sugar coat what happens to children who aren't adequately cared for within Foster systems I mean these children go missing at a at a significantly higher rate than other children in the community and missing children um are more vulnerable to sexual exploitation and human trafficking this is a serious issue t
his is not something to play ideological or political football with you know Carmelo when I look at a story like this and you say to yourself that the real line here was are we looking out for the kids or are we looking out for an agenda regarding sexuality and it looks like the agenda regarding sexuality wins you know when I think all of us who've been trained in some of these areas has thought it was always what's in the best interest of the children but it looks like that's just been thrown o
ut of the out of the door like the baby with the bath water here on this you know when you hear this type of story when what are your thoughts on this well or this you're right some of us we have been trained in this and this was particularly my area when I did practice law child abuse neglect and dependency foster care and adoption so I I have mixed feelings about this case on on one hand obviously they had the flexibility they had the discretion to see that this was something this was a family
that could handle this and could uh both take care of the children and um sort of uh ease at least for the small the the the number of children that would be placed in their home could ease some of this problem right um they had the flexibility to to determine this on the other hand there was some information so we don't know for sure that this is a loving and I'm not saying that they're not we don't know how it's going to play out and we don't know how uh it's going to turn out with the childr
en this is such an eventuality we don't know if they were actually going to have children if the Burks is we're going to actually have children who identified as uh gay lesbian trans uh gender or anything we don't know and so this is such a hypothetical situation to have been cut short at the beginning of the process for one thing which makes this conversation really kind of sad but on the other hand yes they it seems as though they wondered um how how would we deal with some something like this
you know the the wife kitty talked about how she didn't believe that people should be able to choose their pronouns well how's that going to happen or how's that going to work when you have a teenager into your home that has pronouns that you don't think that they should be using these were some things that you have to look at and you have to look at it very carefully I don't agree with a blanket uh rule that says uh if you're a Christian or you're a religious person that that should not come i
nto it but you have to look at it very carefully well Melissa I don't know how we kind of look at this because at the end of the day I understand that there are certain things that you want to make sure that people are open to depending on what happens down the road but this future consideration piece seems to be such an extrapolation or you know such a you know a possibility of what might happen that we don't even get a chance to even begin the assistance process because we've already prejudged
maybe where this process is going to be 10 or 15 years down the road yeah absolutely you know it's it's frustrating I think again we're talking about a hypothetical situation and it sounds like this couple are being penalized for being honest about their own belief system not again what their practice would be with this hypothetical child that was experiencing you know this situation but actually what their own beliefs were they were told by the state of Massachusetts that their religious belie
fs were basically invalid and there therefore disqualified ified them for being foster parents and again as patina said in a time of Crisis for the foster care system I mean we're reading about these children in Massachusetts foster care children in Massachusetts sleeping in hospitals and yet we want to deny a couple who again have checked all of the other boxes this is not the only conversation that they had you know they were screened rigorously and this was the one this was the thing that com
pletely disqualified them but you know we also have heard for example that the Catholic Charities organization that were involved in a lot of things along the lines of adoption and taking care of children that once they were told that you also have to be comfortable in putting these children in the home of same-sex marriages or same-sex relationships that the Catholic Church said listen that's beyond what we believe we're out but then in the same breath you start thinking well are the children q
uote unquote better off in those circumstances than being in some of these other places so it makes me ask the question does it depend on what is specifically happening in a household that can make someone comfortable maybe somewh not comfortable Lawrence I see you got this on your lips get it out man get it out you see this is the very thing I'm talking about because uh at some point we have to ask the question what's the greater harm what's the greater good uh everybody's not going to believe
like I believe and we need to be okay with that you know I I I'm not a offended I'm not off-put by somebody who has a different take on things my I don't wear my heart on my sleeve to that extent you know and um the fact is that if you ask a child who's in a very messed up situation are you willing to be in a situation you know whether it's temporary or for an extended period are you willing to be in a situation where your quality of life is going to be better as opposed to what you're deal deal
with right now I dare say most of those children would say you know what I can deal with two mommies I can deal with two daddies better than I can deal with sleeping on the street and I guess that's where we find ourselves trying to draw the line trying to understand you know how do we not allow our personal agendas or our religious agendas in some instances or our agenda to want Society to be broken up and and rearranged in a different way to take the lead when you start thinking about childre
n when you start thinking about their livelihood and their welfare and things of that nature there has to be a balance of some sort but I also understand that there are parts of society that believe that some of the beliefs that we have from a religious standpoint should supersede all else and if it's not superseding all else then that's a problem for them so I don't know what the exact answer needs to be I'm somebody who thinks that you've got to look out for the welfare of children but I also
understand that different lifestyles of where we are in this Society and if we don't understand that that's where we're going to be we're probably going to find ourselves fighting about these type of things for now and into the very near future hey Lawrence tell me something I don't know marathon is run over 26 miles but did you know that when Salmon are spawning in any given day they can swim up to 31 miles or more in an effort to get to their destination and many times their route requires the
m to jump six feet or more to clear certain obstacles now that's something to think about when you break out that lemon and butter thank you Lawrence matina tell me something I don't know okay Oren did you know that there is an extinct species of salmon called the Sabertooth salmon which if you look at the fossilized remains it's as a scary and as terrifying as the name suggests never seen that one before nor heard of it Carmela tell me something I don't know I have lots of salmon facts but bati
na mentioned peyote earlier on and you've heard of peyote you've heard of I IAA as that special psychedelic brew that people use in different churches but have you heard about a Detroit church called Soul tribes that was offering Sidle cbin and mushrooms and membership at $20 a pop which is still trying to figure out what's going to happen with them whether or not this is an actual Sacrament or just a drug deal masquerading as a church wow Melissa tell me something I don't know yeah Arland I'm g
oing to a salmon fact too so did you know that salmon can range in size from three pounds to 126 pounds so much like human beings they're sort of across the scale wasn't aware of that at all guys I appreciate the conversation today and obviously the information on salmon I appreciate that as well thanks for being here with us today hope you enjoyed our conversation just remember if it's about God and government it's faith in politics see you next time



if you're going to basically work for a government and receive taxpayer dollars for a service you're providing, then YES, you have to be the agent of that government. If you don't like that idea, start your own care organization for children. Separation of church and state still is a thing.