Fostering Freedom for Foster Parents

Fostering Freedom for Foster Parents

February 23, 2018

First, the LGBT lobby tried to take away custody from parents. Now, it wants to stop people from becoming parents altogether! That's the goal in South Carolina, where some extremists are trying to shut down a religious adoption service for trying to place kids in Christian homes.

"For 29 years," attorney Betsy Tanner wrote, "Miracle Hill has gladly served all foster children of any race, national origin, religious beliefs, sex, disability, or political belief. And for 29 years, Miracle Hill has recruited foster families who share its nondenominational Christian religious belief. Miracle Hill has always been clear regarding its religious identity and conviction that all staff -- paid and unpaid -- are followers of Jesus Christ."

That was never a problem, until last year, when the state's Department of Social Services insisted the organization doesn't have the right to make religious beliefs a requirement of foster parents. That was devastating news to the leaders at Miracle Hill, who had probably watched this controversy play out with other Christian agencies in places like D.C., Illinois, and Massachusetts – and knew the ending wasn't a happy one. Faced with the choice of closing their doors or violating their convictions, Catholic Charities chose the former.

Fortunately for Miracle Hill, they have an advocate in South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, who's promised to fight for a waiver with federal officials. "The licensing and participation of faith-based entities in the state foster care system is a constitutionally-protected practice," he argued. "It is important that religious organizations not be required to sacrifice the tenets of their faith in order to serve the children of South Carolina."

For now, Miracle Hill will hold its breath and wait. But they certainly appreciate the governor's support for religious freedom. "I think he'll get a clarification from Washington that our practice is not illegal," CEO Reid Lehman explained. "And then we just ask that the state recognize that as well." Thanks to the Trump administration, there's already a year's worth of precedent defending organizations like Lehman. Maybe eventually, the other side will get the message: fighting the First Amendment is a losing battle!

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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