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The Custody Battle for America’s Children

The Custody Battle for America’s Children

The issues driving division in America today are not about positions, philosophies, or politics.  The split is not over conservative or progressive, Republican or Democrat, causes or candidates.  It’s all about Jesus.  This a spiritual battle aimed at eliminating any vestige of Judeo-Christian values from our nation’s heritage.

That quest is for souls, won by conquering minds.  Just as churches attempt to attract adults through engaging children’s ministries and youth groups, secular leaders know youth are the key to turning the cultural tide.  Not only are children the best avenue for reaching older generations, those set in their (Christian) ways will be gone long before Gen Z.  Therefore, the front line of the culture war has been public schools, universities, and social media.  However, that current ground attack will soon escalate into an air assault aimed at the rights of Christians to foster – or even house – children.

For government to assume the role of “savior”, the influence of those teaching kids that Jesus is Savior must be undermined.  America’s hot button issues are not arbitrary and have little to do with caring, compassion, or even children.  Abortion, gender fluidity, toxic masculinity, gay marriage, and school curriculum (to name a few) are designed to silence the voices of Christian parents by breaking down the “traditional” family unit.  Professors, politicians, and publications assume the fatherhood role, labeling parents who protest their views “out of touch” at best or “domestic terrorists” at worst.  The underlying message is that government and secular influencers would do a better job than Christians of raising their children.

The ultimate objective of those who want Jesus removed from society is removing children from Christian homes.  As far-fetched and hyperbolic as that sounds, a federal proposal is already pushing toward that end.

What the Proposed Federal Rule Would Do…

Foster care systems are typically administered by states but the proposed Safe and Appropriate Foster Care Placement Requirements for Titles IV-E and IV-B would deem any household in any state that holds a Christian view of sexuality to be unfit to foster LGBTQI+ youth.  The rule essentially defines those homes as “unsafe”, citing statistics showing higher mental health and suicide rates among LGBTQI+ youth in foster care (than children not in foster care, or in foster care but not LGBTQI+).  The language attributes that disparity to unsupportive treatment by foster or biological parents, not addressing the possibility of other causal factors like childhood trauma or preexisting conditions.  Not only does the rule preclude any questioning of a child’s sexuality and gender identity, but it requires foster parents provide access to related, desired medical procedures.  The risk of emotional damage or self-harm is considered high enough to warrant rapid removal from non-compliant households.

If approved and enforced, the intended domino effect of this rule is apparent.  A CDC study in 2021 found 26% of high school students were LGBTQI+ (up from 11% in 2015) and a study referenced in the rule says 32% of foster children between the ages of 12–21 are LGBTQI+.  With the number of children questioning their sexual identity so high and growing rapidly, it’s likely that soon no Christian home will be seen as “safe” for foster children.  If that’s the case, is any child “safe” in a household holding biblical views of sexuality and gender?  How could they feel free in that environment to be their “authentic selves”, possibly suppressing their “truth”, and thereby jeopardizing their mental and physical health?  If a son or daughter confessed gender dysphoria, Christian parents would almost certainly express or emote something that could be taken as disapproving, which the child would share with a friend or teacher, who would feel obligated to encourage or pressure the child to report them to the proper authorities.

Following the logic, children should only live with adults affirming the existence of more than two genders, applauding homosexuality, and approving same-sex marriage.  That presumably excludes evangelical Christians and could eventually lead to many more removals for “child abuse” for not affirming, applauding, and approving.  In order to retain custody, Christians parents could be forced to deny their beliefs and defy their principles – or face placement of their child (whether gay or straight) with a “safe and supportive” foster family who may convert them to spiritual orphans.  In fact, roughly one third of all foster parents in America today are already LGBTQI+ – and that figure is rising.

What the Proposed Federal Rule Ignores…

The conclusions drawn from those studies reveal a bias that ignores competing facts and observations.  The goal of anti-Christian leaders is to render evangelism ineffective (or outlawed) by instilling the 7 pillars of social “progress” (i.e. no offense, no sin, no conscience, no consequences, no identity, no religion, no truth) into “enlightened” youth.  So they give little air-time to these alternative statistics, stories, and explanations:

  • The greatest threat to LGBTQI+ children are not Christian (biological or foster) parents but those who pressure them to take life-altering steps while too immature to fully understand their sexuality.  Many young adults have later thanked foster parents for having the courage to speak up about the risks of irreversible “gender affirming” treatments.
  • Countries like Finland, Sweden, France, Norway, and the U.K. that were well ahead of the U.S. in pushing “gender affirming” care for youth have already begun backtracking, concluding that in many cases those early interventions do more harm than good.
  • Research reveals that Christian families are 3 times more likely to seriously consider fostering, twice as likely to adopt, and foster parents recruited through church or religious organizations foster 2.6 years longer than other foster homes.
  • In absolute and relative terms, the percentage of high school students identifying as LGBTQI+ (26%) is not explainable simply by biology or genetics, yet the role of social norms, sexual abuse, and childhood trauma are rarely acknowledged.
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are often a contributing factor to, not a result of, “gender dysphoria”.  In other words, did ACEs occur before or after “coming out”?  Households may have been generally “unsafe” before LGBTQI+ revelations to parents, leading to depression and suicide ideation, whereas anti-Christian rhetoric uniformly attributes mental health issues to “unsupportive” parents post disclosure.
  • Agendas of the elite class (politicians, professors, and publications) define “oppressors”, “oppressed”, “progress”, “truth”, “justice”, and “tolerance” such that they invite class warfare and chaos.  That strategy historically involves swooping in to save the day and assert centralized control over all parties (which effectively obviates the influence of Christianity).
  • Acceptance and power of “victimhood” comes from (re)identifying from an oppressor designation by birth to one or more oppressed classes.  Each such association adds greater ability to demand rights and escape accountability.

Churches and Christians bear significant responsibility for America reaching the point where our government could promulgate regulations like the Safe and Appropriate Foster Care Placement Requirements.  When we cross lines in the sand, the world etches lines in stone.  Churches clinging to custody of “customers” may soon cost Christians custody of children.

How Churches Opened (and Can Close) This Door…

Jesus commissioned His Church and followers to care for the weak and vulnerable, to look after the children He loves so much.  He gave children front row seatscalled them the greatest in the Kingdom of heavenwarned sternly against leading them astraytold adults to be more like them, defended them against injustice, and associated them with Himself.   Scripture repeatedly takes up the cause of the fatherless.  How have so many churches dropped those balls and how can we reverse the impending infringement of our rights as (biological and foster) parents?

  • When the Church Growth Movement abandoned Jesus’ definition of His “customer”, treating churchgoers like consumers, the intended “customers” (e.g. those identifying as LBGTQI+, not as a child of God) felt ignored and took their business elsewhere.  Feeling like “outsiders”, they sought to be “insiders” somewhere else, becoming “customers” of the world.  As customers they acquired the authority to make demands, arbiters of their own identity, truth, and morality.  The proposed new federal rule will give children the ability to dictate the behaviors of (foster, but soon biological) parents, threatening to report any unsupportive comments or actions.  The only recourse is for pastors to return to viewing churchgoers as Kingdom employees (to equip and deploy) and not “customers” (to attract and retain).
  • Defining the wrong “customer” has inhibited intensive disciple-making in children’s ministries and youth groups.  Attempts to entertain or engender loyalty to a church or pastor rather than a life-changing relationship with the Father made those entering college susceptible to absorbing progressive teachings and rejecting (shallow) “religion”.  Nearly all youth whose faith survives college point back to a parent or church leader who faithfully discipled and mentored them.
  • Catering rather than challenging Christian parents to model transformation for their children by taking radical steps of faith has flipped the (biblical/”nuclear”) family on its head.  Children are gaining control.  The “traditional” family structure envisioned by God is mocked in the media, sabotaged by causes championed by secular activists, and threatened by anti-Christian foster care regulations.  Now is the time for words like sanctification and surrender to reenter the vernacular of church leaders and the lives of churchgoers.
  • “Christian Nationalism” has pitted believers against (rather than for) everyone else.  When we don’t express ourselves as Christ would (e.g. loving the “sinner”), aligning ourselves instead with parties and politicians more than Jesus, we make “state” want to separate from church.  We must remember we have dual citizenship and our primary allegiance should be to a Kingdom, not a democracy.
  • Churches ostensibly have demonstrated more concern for children inside than outside the “family”.  If youth ministries truly reflected a heart for ministry to children, and not a growth strategy to engage parents, then churches would be actively serving troubled teens in the community and diligently discipling members’ kids.  The youth programs that initially attract families to church often eventually hasten children’s departures from the faith.  More churches should have ministries dedicated to helping families avoid child removals, recruiting foster parents, and supporting foster families (since annual turnover remains near 50%).

Despite decades of damage to the growth, impact, influence, and perception of Christians and the firm entrenchment of most congregations in church growth paradigms, it’s not too late to turn back so that our children can retain custody of their (biological and foster) children.

It’s Your Turn…

Federal law requires the public have the opportunity to submit comment letters on this proposed regulation.  The deadline for comments is November 27, 2023.


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