This forthcoming article in The Nation on “evangelical”* adoption and the appropriate (but also potentially biased) response to it in Christianity Today brought out extremely mixed emotions for me as an Asian American evangelical Christian who works with transracial adoptees and respects many friends and colleagues who adopt. I also recognize that many of Joyce’s concerns are valid; the article rightly highlights abuses, misguided religious rhetoric, and adoptive zeal sometimes as an expression of White American paternalism. However, she misconstrues evangelicalism as some conspiratorial dominionist secret society, conflates us with all forms of religious conservatism, and presents most religious motives in adoption as disingenuous and ethnocentric or at best misguided.
While they brought absolutely valid concerns to light, Kathryn Joyce and The Nation are sensationalist, ignorant, and — dare I say –xenophobic in their treatment of religious people. Thankfully The New York Times got its act together when reporting on religion over the last few years, but this article reeks of the infantile “journalism” that brought on the whole “values voter” farce in 2004. Can’t secular members of the liberal media, oh, I don’t know, talk to someone who’s religious once in a while if they’re reporting on religion?
Russell Moore is a pastor-theologian I cautiously respect, Rick Warren is certainly an elder statesman of evangelicalism, and Lou Engle is someone I wish would just disappear. The line between evangelicalism and fundamentalism is sometimes hazy and there will always be hatemongerers, syncretists, culture warriors, and messianic crusaders. It is we the sick, after all, who need the Great Physician. Whether we like it or not, adoption is now another cause/issue associated with evangelical Christianity and we and our leaders need to speak and act with love, truth, and nuance. True evangelicals need to be informed, but wow this is complex…
(I may have been manuscripting too much lately… I wrote in chiasm…)
*I placed “evangelical” in quotes above because the article confuses evangelicalism with a broader brand of religious and political conservatism that does not include all evangelicals but includes conservative Roman Catholics and Mormons, not because true evangelicals don’t adopt; they/we do. And non-conservatives adopt, too.