The Haunting of Government Money

Claire Frazier May/June 2004
The United Methodist Children's Home (UMCH) in Georgia learned an important lesson the hard way; you never can tell when government money will come back to haunt you, in the most unexpected and debilitating ways. UMCH, an admittedly church-related agency, accepts children referred to their care from the State of Georgia's Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) or the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). For each child UMCH receives a per diem that provides about 50 percent of the cost of supporting the state child on campus. The North Georgia United Methodist Conference estimates that the total state payments for the children amount to about 57 percent of their total operating expense. The result of this arrangement between the State of Georgia and UMCH is that the children have a safe, if religious, environment in which to live. The state has a place to safely house children who would otherwise be forced to remain in dangerous or damaging environments or end up on the streets. Everyone is happy.

Everyone except Aimee Bellmore and Alan Yorker. Bellmore was employed by UMCH as a counselor. In July 2001 she was notified that she would soon be promoted to the position of family therapist. Instead of the expected promotion, however, Bellmore was terminated in November 2001 because UMCH discovered she was a lesbian. "She was informed that to promote its religious beliefs, the Home would employ only Christian heterosexuals who are married or celibate."1

Alan Yorker didn't make it as far as Bellmore did in his search for employment at UMCH. A psychotherapist in adolescent and family therapy for more than 20 years, with more than a decade's experience teaching in Emory University professional schools and a number of appointments to state professional committees, his r
Article Author: Claire Frazier