HHS Protects Religious Freedom as Biden Onslaught Looms

January 8, 2021

Miracle Hill Ministries in South Carolina is one of that state's oldest and largest foster care providers, gladly serving every child it can. The ministry is also faith-based, and reflects its beliefs in the way it operates. In the closing hours of the Obama administration, HHS had issued a regulation that threatened to violate the religious freedom of such faith-based groups. This eventually happened, and in 2018 Miracle Hill was threatened with the loss of federal funding unless it modified its beliefs and the way it operated. But by that time, the Trump administration had since taken power, and HHS granted Miracle Hill a waiver from the requirements.

Yet this remedy was temporary, and applied to one organization. There have been a number of cases of Christians and Christian organizations being forced out of foster care or adoption because of their religious beliefs about marriage. The issue was broader than Miracle Hill, whose case illustrated a bigger religious freedom problem.

Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stepped in and helped put an end to the targeting of faith-based adoption and foster care agencies when it finalized an administrative rule which protects the religious freedom of these organizations when taking grants from HHS, and prevents them from being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. This action reversed the Obama administration's burdensome requirements (which were not anchored in any statute) that violated the religious beliefs of most, if not all, religious organizations that received any HHS grant, by forcing them out of HHS grant programs (or ensuring they could not even participate) unless they were willing to violate their beliefs. The Obama administration's rule also violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a violation HHS corrected yesterday.

The reality is that an incoming Biden administration will certainly try (and may succeed) to reverse this policy and a number of other pro-family, pro-life, and pro-religious freedom policies we have seen implemented over the past four years. Yet we must continue to defend what we know to be true both in Washington, D.C. and in state legislatures around the country. Hope is not lost, and there are many standing with us as we continue to give voice to our principles in our nation's capital and around the country. The fight for life, family, and religious liberty will -- and must -- go on.