East Tenn. pastor stops donations to adoption agency that denied Jewish couple

East Tennessee pastor Rev. Brandon Berg said he has stopped donations from his congregation to Holston United Methodist Home for Children.
A church steeple at sunset (FILE)
A church steeple at sunset (FILE)(FOX Carolina News)
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 1:56 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2022 at 8:37 AM CDT
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BRISTOL, Tenn. (WVLT) - East Tennessee pastor Rev. Brandon Berg said he has stopped donations from his congregation to an adoption agency that denied a Jewish couple that wanted to adopt a child from them.

The agency, Holston United Methodist Home for Children, told the couple that it could not service them because it “only provide[s] adoption services to prospective adoptive families that share our [Christian] belief system.” Since the agency has ties to the Methodist church, several congregations regularly donate to them, Rev. Berg said in a statement.

Rev. Berg has been a part of the church for 33 years and is an ordained pastor of First United Methodist Church in Bristol, Tennessee. In his statement, Rev. Berg made it clear that children deserve a home no matter their background. He also called out Holston’s relationship to Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious rights group.

“Every child, no matter where they live, the color of their skin, or the religion of their parents, deserves a safe and loving home to grow up in,” he said. “And that’s why I’m here today to speak out against the involvement of the Alliance Defending Freedom, and their infiltration here in Tennessee. They claim to be a Christian organization. But a glance at their website makes it clear that their goal is to discriminate against people, especially the LGBTQ community, under the guise of religious freedom. The actual freedom that we have in Christ and from the call of Jesus has nothing to do with discrimination against those who live or love or worship differently than we do.”

Rev. Berg also mentioned the issue with the adoption specifically, saying that religious freedoms should not adversely affect others.

“I’m frankly ashamed of their connection with the ADF and to their pursuit of discriminatory practices in the name of religious freedom,” he said. “Right now, they’re defending, or are associated with defending, the adoption agency’s right to refuse to help a Jewish couple adopt through their agency. Friends, this is absolutely not what freedom in Christ looks like. Paul specifically talks about the freedom we have in Christ but specifies that our freedom cannot cause harm to others, and the actions defended by ADF are nothing but harmful.”

ADF also has ties to anti-LGBTQ legislation, specifically bills centering on anti-trans bathroom practices and trans athletics.

The Jewish couple seeking a child is also suing the Tennessee Department of Child Services for discrimination, claiming that their rights are protected since Holston receives state funding.

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