It’s not often that we hear of government bodies agreeing on a decision. But yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a UNANIMOUS judgement in favor of children and religious freedom.
What happened? Here are the facts.
The case: Fulton v. City of Philadelphia
Catholic Social Services (CSS) is a longstanding faith-based nonprofit that serves the foster children of Philadelphia. 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.
Their beliefs are essential to their identity and cannot be separated from their work. But the city of Philadelphia thought otherwise.
When the city discovered CSS’s beliefs about marriage, they forced the organization to make a decision: change your beliefs, or the city will stop contracting with you.
CSS chose a third option: seek legal help.
The organization rightly recognized that this was a violation of their constitutionally protected religious freedom, and – represented by our friends at Becket Law – they took that argument to court.
After years of litigation, Catholic Social Services ultimately got their day in court before the U.S. Supreme Court last year. And today, the Justices issued their verdict: Philadelphia violated CSS’s religious freedom.
The implications: good news for children and religious freedom
This decision is good news not only for CSS, but for the many children they serve. When CSS is allowed to participate in Philadelphia’s foster care system, it not only offers a distinctly Christian option, but also increases the sheer number of foster providers – and that matters greatly.
In the U.S., more than 400,000 children in the foster system are waiting for homes. Around 4% of children are adopted within a year of entering foster care, and 85% of children in foster care have at least two placements in their first 12 months. In fact, the foster crisis is so extreme that some states are hosting foster children in hotels and office buildings because there is nowhere else to place them.
Today’s decision is a strong affirmation that foster homes like Catholic Social Services should be able to place children in loving homes while abiding by their religious convictions. Religious freedom is a precious gift afforded to all Americans. The belief that children should be in homes with a married mother and father should not be punished — and the Court affirmed that today.
The decision also reminds us of why the federal Equality Act – which could be up for a vote anytime in the Senate – is unworkable and inadvisable. The Act would redefine “sex” to include a person’s self-declared “sexual orientation and gender identity” throughout federal civil rights law. By doing that, the Act could be used to force foster and adoption agencies into similar dilemmas to Catholic Social Services – something that that the entire Supreme Court rejected today. The Equality Act would threaten religious freedom and the wellbeing of children and must be rejected.
We applaud today’s Supreme Court decision and are thankful for the work of Becket Law representing Catholic Social Services!
Policy and Communications Strategist
P.S. Want to speak out against the Equality Act? Send a message to your Senator now.
Should state and local governments block Christians with a biblical worldview from adopting or fostering children?
The idea might seem far-fetched to some. After all, isn’t this the United States of America? Don’t we have a constitutionally protected right to freely exercise our religion?
Consider the Blaises in Washington State. They wanted to foster and care for their one-year-old great-granddaughter, H.V., who had been removed from her parents in Idaho.
Washington bars families who affirm a biblical definition of marriage and gender from fostering children. State licensers evaluating prospective foster parents ask a series of questions about LGBTQ+ issues: What would you do if the child wanted a romantic partner of the same sex to stay the night? Would you support the child’s decision to have hormonal therapies and sex reassignment surgery to look like to opposite sex? Would you let them dress like the opposite sex and be called by a different name?
The Blaises, who are devout Seventh-Day Adventists, answered honestly. “We would provide her with loving, medically and therapeutically appropriate care that is consistent with both accepted medical principles and our beliefs as Seventh-day Adventists and Christians,” they said. “Although we could not support [transition] treatments based on our sincerely held religious convictions, we absolutely would be loving and supportive of H.V.”
This was too much for a state government agency that demands full acquiescence to the radical LGBTQ+ agenda. The case worker informed the Blaises that their application would likely be denied because they couldn’t provide a home in which LGBTQ+ kids will be “supported.”
Fortunately, a federal judge ruled in the favor of the Blaises, determining that the Washington State policy constituted a violation of religious freedom by “disproportionately excluding” people of faith from becoming foster parents.
Sadly, it’s not just the Blaises in Washington. Many states and cities have similar policies that effectively preclude faithful Christians from fostering or adopting children.
Other places, like Massachusetts, have crusaded against faith-based adoption agencies, which operate on their conviction that children should only be placed with families consisting of a married husband and wife. Catholic Charities of Boston, one of the nation’s oldest adoption agencies, decided it couldn’t comply and chose to close its doors.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, two faith-based agencies chose not to place children with gay couples—and lost their ability to receive foster-care referrals for violating a city nondiscrimination ordinance. Foster parents who work with one of the agencies sued the city—and their case is now before the Supreme Court.
Considering that over 400,000 children are waiting to be fostered or adopted in the United States, the notion that the government would shut down any private adoption agency or prevent any qualified family from adopting is nonsensical.
What makes it especially tragic is that practicing Catholics are three times more likely – and evangelical Christians are five times more likely – to adopt than the general population. Disqualifying Christians from the world of adoption and foster-care leaves many vulnerable children without a family to love and care for them.
The Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments in the Philadelphia case early next month. Its ruling might have profound ramifications for the future of faith-based adoption agencies. Will the Supreme Court maintain the religious freedom of families and adoption agencies? Or will state and local governments deprive churches and faith-based organizations – who started the first orphanages in cities across the country – from serving children and orphans?
Don’t Forget: TODAY IS ELECTION DAY!
Every day of the year, Family Policy Alliance works to promote biblical citizenship—engaging with our form of government and leaders from a biblical perspective. Today – Election Day – is perhaps the most important day of the year to this end. We count it a privilege to live in a free country with democratic elections where all people can make their voices heard at the ballot box.
Won’t you be part of biblical citizenship today by voting and praying for those who will be elected?
On Friday, President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a new proposed rule to allow faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to receive federal grants without compromising their religious beliefs.
The new rule will roll back harmful regulations from the Obama Administration that forced faith-based providers to choose between helping vulnerable children and birthmoms, or following their faith.
In 2016, just days before President Obama left office, HHS added “sexual orientation” as a protected class to a rule governing adoption agencies. Therefore, adoption and foster care providers could not continue to place children in need with married mothers and fathers only based on their biblical beliefs about marriage and sexuality. Their choice was to give up their beliefs in order to serve or else stop serving children and birthmothers altogether. And many did close their doors because they couldn’t violate their faith.
While the Obama rule sought to punish faith-based agencies into compliance with a radical political agenda, the real victims were children waiting for their forever home and birthmoms whose choices were limited.
With more than 440,000 children in foster care in the U.S., and at least 100,000 waiting for adoption, this misguided rule demanded attention.
The Trump Administration responded.
The new rule will allow adoption and foster care agencies to once again provide much-needed child placement services while maintaining their religious beliefs. Rather than force them to comply with politically motivated “sexual orientation” rules, providers will only be required to comply with nondiscrimination laws passed by Congress and signed into law, as well as applicable Supreme Court decisions.
According to a White House press release, “The proposed rule represents the Trump Administration’s strong commitment to the rule of law―the Constitution, federal statutes, and Supreme Court decisions. These require that the federal government not infringe on religious freedom in its operation of HHS grant programs and address the impact of regulatory actions on small entities.”
This announcement represents one of several steps taken by the Trump Administration to protect religious freedom in America and restore common-sense in federal agencies. The Administration has also taken action to protect medical workers who have conscious objection to abortion and assisted suicide, and it has ensured that faith-based businesses can opt out of insurance plans that include contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
We are delighted that the Department of Health and Human Services has issued this new rule to protect religious freedom and advance the work of faith-based adoption and foster care agencies. President Trump and his administration deserve our thanks.
If you are encouraged by this announcement, won’t you take a moment to personally thank President Trump for his leadership to protect religious freedom in our country? We have made it easy to send to send him a message in our Action Center – it only take a few seconds.
Thank you for standing with us to promote and defend pro-family public policy. And thanks in advance for unleashing biblical citizenship today by voting!
Autumn Leva, Esq.
Vice President of Strategy
Plus a brand-new video!
By Autumn Leva, Vice President of Strategy for Family Policy Alliance®
Many believers may not have much personal experience in the world of child welfare—I confess I didn’t either until I started working on this issue for Family Policy Alliance.
But here’s what makes the most common sense to me. When a birth mother wants or needs to place her child for adoption, she should be able to choose which adoption agency she works with. Similarly, adoptive families should be free to choose an agency that best aligns with their values.
And, no matter what, every child in need of a family and every courageous birthmom who pursues adoption should be at the center of every state’s adoption policies.
What do you think?
Here are a few reasons we think Christian adoption agencies need to matter to everyone, both believers and nonbelievers, those involved in adoption and those who never will be.
And be sure to check out this new video!
Christian adoption agencies matter…to everyone!
Shutting down faith-based adoption agencies is one of the Left’s newest tactics to silence people of faith. They believe that an agency that operates as a ministry, not a business, such as by placing children in homes with a married mother and father, shouldn’t be allowed in the state.
For example, in Colorado, when a bill was introduced to protect the right of faith-based agencies to continue to operate according to their beliefs, a Senator from Boulder admitted on-record that he believes that faith-based agencies should be shut down, rather than serving children and families!
If the Left succeeds at shutting down even ministries that do one of the most honorable works that exists—finding families for children in need—then the right of believers to freely live out their faith, or the right of anyone who disagrees with the government’s view on any particular issue to speak out, is severely threatened.
This is why protecting faith-based adoption agencies matters to everyone—if faith-based ministries that care for children can be silenced, then no one’s right to speak or live out their beliefs is safe.
Christian adoption agencies matter to birthmoms
Placing a child for adoption can be an extremely difficult time for a birthmother. When a birthmom is free to choose an agency that she believes will meet her needs, as well as help her place her child in a home that best aligns with her hopes and values for her child, she will be better supported throughout the entire process.
In fact, many faith-based agencies work specifically to minister to birthmothers, providing them care, support, and counseling—even if they ultimately choose not to place their child for adoption.
Christian adoption agencies matter to adoptive families
Many adoptive parents come to adoption from a place of grief and hurting in their own struggle to have children, and the wait for an adoptive child can be long and difficult. Adoptive families should be free to work with an agency they trust to meet their needs as they prepare their home for an adoptive child. Agencies that better understand the family’s values will be the best to support that family on their journey to adoption.
Plus, practicing Christians are twice as likely to adopt a child. When Christian families are free to work with agencies that share their values, we can continue to ensure that even more believers are heeding the biblical call to care for the orphans and the widows.
Christian adoption agencies matter to children
The best way to help children in need of a forever home is to increase opportunities for them to find a forever family and prevent even more children landing in the states’ already backed-up foster care system. Ensuring that faith-based agencies can continue their ministries in every state provides more opportunities for children to be served by even more agencies and families.
Plus, faith-based adoption agencies excel at finding homes for hard-to-place children—those with special needs, older children, and the severely abused.
Here’s how you can help protect faith-based agencies and the families they serve in your state:
Congress is considering a federal bill that would ensure that states that receive taxpayer dollars for any child welfare programs can’t exclude faith-based adoption agencies from operating in their states.
Family Policy Alliance has been working in coalition with other national allies to support this bill, and we need your help to get the message to every U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator that this bill is important to all of us!
Please help by using our Action Center to send a message instantly to your own Representative and two Senators, asking them to support this bill. It takes less than 2 minutes to add your name and click send!
Family Policy Alliance met Adrian when she came to the Colorado Capitol with us and our state ally, Colorado Family Action, to ask lawmakers in that state to protect faith-based adoption agencies. This was when one Senator from Boulder boldly admitted on record that he believes faith-based agencies should be shut down, rather than serving children and families in Colorado!
After Colorado lawmakers refused to advance this common sense bill, Adrian shared her story as a birthmom with the Christian Post.
“When my baby girl was born, I held her tight and told her, ‘I’ll always love you.’ Leaving the hospital without my daughter was the single hardest thing I’d ever done.” …
As you may have heard, LGBT activists around the country have been ganging up on faith-based adoption agencies – forcing them to either violate their beliefs by placing children with homosexual couples … or to shut down.
Already, they have forced such non-profit groups to close their doors in Massachusetts, Illinois, D.C., and parts of California. They are actively suing in several other states, and Colorado faith-based agencies are feeling tremendous pressure.
That’s why state Sen. Kevin Lundberg sponsored SB 241, a bill to protect the right of conscience of Colorado’s faith-based adoption agencies. His bill will be heard in a key state senate committee on Monday afternoon, and the outcome could very well depend on which Coloradans those senators are hearing from.
How does the attack on faith-based adoption agencies affect kids?
First, the more adoption agencies there are to walk alongside birth moms and to assist adopting families, the greater the number of children who will be able to find a forever home. Specifically, faith-based agencies are especially successful at finding homes for children who are hard to place – the severely abused, older children, and those with special needs.
Second, birth moms often select faith-based agencies because they want their child placed in a home that aligns with their faith, or because the agency was the one that took time to really listen and walk with her through a difficult time.
Please protect these vital ministries by asking the senate committee members to support SB 241. And please share this friends and fellow church members so they can make their voice heard, too.
Thank you for making a difference!
The Family Policy Alliance Team
Meet Cole Muzio, President of Family Policy Alliance’s allied organization in Georgia—Family Policy Alliance of Georgia.
After an out-of-state atheist group has repeatedly attacked teachers and even students for praying at school, Cole and his team—and two bold Georgia legislators—decided to do something about it.
Since making laws is the job of the legislature (not activist groups or courts), they are working to advance a bill that would protect the right of teachers and students to freely pray and express their faith in school.
Please pray for Cole and his team! We hope their work catches fire in other states!
Hear from Cole in his short Facebook Live video from this week.
Texas Values is one of 40 state allies that Family Policy Alliance is proud to work alongside.
Legislation designed to allow faith-based foster homes and adoption agencies to keep operating according to their faith-based principles (HB 3859) was signed today by Gov. Greg Abbott.
The new law, called the Freedom to Serve Children Act, protects faith-based providers from being targets of discrimination or litigation if they do not refer girls for abortion or if they only place children in homes with a married mother and father.
One-fourth of all foster care agencies in Texas are faith-based, but there has been a trend nationally of religious placement organizations closing as the result of being forced to deny their beliefs. Because of the crisis in state-run foster care, faith-based providers have been asked to do more to help care for foster children. Many faith-based providers want to do so, but Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, said state law previously did not protect them from being targets of grant discrimination or litigation.
“The signing into law of the Freedom to Serve Children Act is a major victory for children and for religious liberty in Texas. Faith-based providers across Texas are now free to recruit foster families and place children with loving families,” he explained. “HB 3859 ensures that there’s a place at the table for everyone at a time when Texas children need everyone at the table.”
Learn more about Texas Values.