Government Should Not Discriminate Against Religious Foster, Adoption Agencies
Religion & Liberty Online

Government Should Not Discriminate Against Religious Foster, Adoption Agencies

Yesterday was a great day for my family. We had recently celebrated the addition of two girls. My niece and her husband adopted them, and yesterday was the girls’ baptism. My mother was there; she and my dad fostered children and adopted two. My two daughters were there to celebrate; they are both adopted.

If the government and certain entities have their way, none of this will happen for families like ours – families for whom religious faith is paramount, and who have chosen to work with religious social service agencies in order to foster and adopt children.

Sarah Torre and Ryan T. Anderson discuss this at The Daily Signal. Some states are considering cutting off revenue to social service agencies that choose not to place children with same-sex couples. These organizations choose to do so because of religious beliefs that first, uphold that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman, and second, that affirm children are best served by having a mother and a father to raise them. Some government officials are working to make sure that these agencies continue to receive funding. Torre and Anderson:

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which would protect the right of child welfare providers, including private and faith-based adoption and foster care agencies, to continue providing valuable services to families and children. The federal government and states receiving certain federal child welfare funds would be prohibited from discriminating against a child welfare provider simply because the provider declines to provide a service that conflicts with their religious or moral convictions.

This is good policy. The efforts of faith-based organizations and the work of more than 1,000 private, licensed foster care and adoption providers across the United States are helping to increase the number of children adopted every year.

Faith-based agencies handle about 25 percent of the foster care and adoption services in the U.S. Some agencies (such as the Catholic agency in Washington, D.C.) have chosen to end their foster care and adoption services:

…when the city informed Catholic Charities in 2009 that “the agency could no longer serve as a provider of foster care and public adoption services as a result of the D.C. same-sex marriage law,” said Sheridan Watson, communications manager for the Office of Media and Public Relations at the archdiocese.

“This is because under the new law, in order to have a contract with D.C. to provide such services, providers were required to certify the marital status of adoptive and foster care families and to place children with same-sex married couples, which would violate the tenets of the Catholic Faith.”

Other agencies have chosen to refuse state funding, eliminating the need to comply with such governmental mandates. While this solution may be the only one left for religious social service agencies, the best and most just situation would be that the government does not impede or discriminate against religious-based agencies and those they serve due religious tenets. We have far too many children in foster care, waiting for “forever families” or who are awaiting return to their biological families in need support services. We should not be putting up barriers, especially unjust and discriminatory ones, that make this even more difficult.

Read “The Government Should Stop Discriminating Against Religious Adoption Agencies” at The Daily Signal.

Elise Hilton

Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.