The government telling the church what to believe and how to live out those beliefs is the worst kind of violation of the First Amendment. But, that’s what the city of Philadelphia has been trying to do to Catholic Social Services, an adoption and foster care agency in the city.
The Supreme Court recently announced it would hear oral arguments in the case, the outcome of which will have enormous ramifications for religious freedom. In Fulton v. Pennsylvania, the city of Philadelphia is attempting to force a Catholic Social Services to place children in homes with same-sex couples, in violation of the non-profit’s beliefs, or else go out of business and stop serving children in need.
This agency is fueled by its beliefs about marriage, family, and helping the less fortunate. They exist to help children in need, particularly hard-to-place children, find forever homes. They have many guidelines for the families who are receiving children in their homes – including that there be a married mom and dad in the home. These beliefs cannot just be separated from each other.
But that’s exactly what Philadelphia wants the agency to do.
The Court is considering the foundational question of whether an organization is allowed to define its beliefs and to consistently live them out.
As shown in the recent case Our Lady of Guadalupe v. Morrissey, in which the Court protected the right of a church to determine its hiring and firing practices, the Court has placed a lot of emphasis on the freedom of the church to actually be the church and live out its beliefs consistently.
Two lower courts have allowed Philadelphia to continue to co-opt the beliefs of the adoption agency. Ironically, Philadelphia cannot show any real harm arising from the faith-based agency’s existence. There are plenty of agencies who will eagerly place children in same-sex or single-parent homes. But, the sexual revolution will stand for nothing less than total surrender to their ideology. In their worldview, even one agency that does not comply is not acceptable.
Nine states, including my state of Kansas, recognized that this was a problem and passed an Adoption Protection Act. These laws reinforce that the First Amendment and state religious freedom laws protect faith-based adoption agencies from government discrimination. This ensures that agencies can live out their beliefs when it comes to marriage, family, and sexuality.
In states that don’t have this sort of law like Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois, Colorado, and even South Carolina, agencies are under attack. These agencies are doing important work to help children, women in crisis pregnancies, and families that want to become a forever home for a child in need.
Watch our video here highlighting the work of faith-based adoption agencies:
Laws protecting faith-based organizations are at risk across the country during this election. This is evident in a state like Kansas where during the debate on the Adoption Protection Act, a leading Senate candidate, Barbara Bollier, declared that Catholic beliefs about marriage and family were “sick discrimination.” Activists, including the Governor, are constantly trying to undermine this law.
The losers in this political debate are the children. The push to shut down faith-based adoption agencies because of their faith ultimately harms the children who could have been helped by these agencies. Political leaders demonstrate that they would rather have children in need sleeping in administrative offices than allow a faith-based adoption/foster agency to exist to help place them with families.
Interestingly enough, the Court indicated that it knows that the question of discrimination against faith-based organizations matters to voters by placing oral arguments the day AFTER the election on November 4th.
Stand alongside us as we fight to protect laws like the Adoption Protection Act where it has already become law and pass it in states where it has yet to become law. Would you consider a generous gift to Family Policy Alliance today?
Standing for the freedom to believe,
Director of Advocacy
Family Policy Alliance of Kansas