Tirelessly advocating for children: A tribute to Becky Weichhand

November 29, 2018

“You do not know what tomorrow will bring . . . for you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14).  

This verse has consumed me since seeing the jarring news yesterday of the death of one of the best and brightest adoption advocates of our generation. Becky Weichhand, the executive director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), “lost her valiantbattle against cancer and passed away surrounded by family,” the CCAI reported on social media. A committed follower of Christ, we take great comfort that Becky is with her Savior whose love and grace she displayed in abundance to all who were blessed to know her.  

The team at the CCAI, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 2001, provide resources and information to members of Congress in order to “make the dream of a family a reality for every child.” Becky came to CCAI in 2009 from Michigan to serve as CCAI’s director of Policy. She was named its executive director in 2014.

To those of us in the adoption community blessed to work with Becky, she was unforgettable.  I got to know her in my previous role as the vice president of Advocacy for Children at Focus on the Family. Becky and I were both lawyers passionate about public policy, adoption, and child welfare. And we wanted to do all we could to help waiting children get into families and ensure adoptive families had the support they needed to love and raise their kids well.

We also shared a belief and commitment that the faith community can and should play a crucial role—with government—in helping children in need of families. In a climate where the witness of people of faith is sometimes marred by partisan excess, Becky was a consummate diplomat who worked with anyone and everyone who wanted to advance the cause of adoption. And it wasn’t a front. She wasn’t a secret partisan hack putting up with “others” because she had to.  Becky genuinely understood the importance of working together in a pluralistic society to advance the common good. She led teams across the globe to learn more about the needs of the world’s orphans and put on CCAI’s prestigious Angels in Adoption gala each year in Washington, D.C.

Michael Wear, who worked in President Obama’s Faith Based Office, noted that he worked with no one more closely than Becky and her predecessor, Kathleen Strottman, on the annual National Adoption Day events of President Obama’s first term. Becky worked with Wear to get the adoption tax credit made permanent and to “bring youth in foster care to the White House so that the nation’s top policymakers could hear directly from them, rather that just hearing about them.”  He went on to note that “those meetings deeply impacted (his) White House Domestic Policy Council colleagues.” That’s how Becky was: deeply impacting. She was both head and heart. She knew adoption advocates needed to provide facts and stir hearts.

What struck me early on about Becky was her vibrancy. She was somehow both fierce and gentle; compassionate and tenacious; loving with a steel spine. Becky was brilliant, beautiful, kind, and fun. It’s hard for me not to cry as a type this. She always wanted to know how she could pray for you, and she had a determined faith that God would move mountains to set lonely children in families (Psa. 68:5). She was very clear that we had lots of work to do to cooperate with God in that mission. Becky also went out of her way to serve people. She once drove me around Washington, D.C., in the dark of a winter night so I wouldn’t be on my own trying to find my way to an unfamiliar hotel. We prayed together in her car. 

Becky was tireless. Some of my favorite memories are from our last adoption policy battle together. It never occurred to me in a million years that it would be our last. In November 2017, there was an attempt in the House of Representatives to substantially weaken the adoption tax credit. Becky was the general with the information and, along with ERLC policy staff and others, she worked from morning to night to provide lawmakers with the information they needed to understand the importance of the tax credit. I remember teasing her that I was too old for conference calls at 10 p.m., but Becky, along with many others, just kept working. And her efforts paid off. The adoption tax credit was saved, which means more children will get the families they deserve. Becky did important work with faith and perseverance.  

What you’ve probably noticed from the picture of our beautiful friend is that she was so young and full of life. It feels especially cruel to lose someone like Becky. It’s hard to comprehend.  So, as Becky did, we trust that God will use this horrible loss of our beloved friend for both the good of others and for the glory of his merciful name. This is her legacy in her life and death. Becky’s sister Laura wrote this verse on her Facebook page:  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).  Well done, beloved Becky. We miss you already.

Kelly Rosati

Kelly Rosati is the CEO of KMR Consulting. Rosati’s firm offers clients innovative, practical insights and action steps to achieve their strategic goals in communications and community and government relations. Prior to this role, Rosati was the vice president of Community Outreach for the organization Focus on the Family, where she … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24