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.
November is National Adoption Month, and as believers and Americans who care about families, we have the opportunity this month to help. Please take a moment to learn what’s going on and then lend your voice to help children awaiting adoption!
The answer probably seems obvious if we asked: When it comes to policies on adoption, should kids or politics come first? With nearly 125,000 children in the United States awaiting adoption and the average adoption wait time for a child in foster care at 31 months, of course the answer is that children should come first.
But, sadly, for many years the policy of our federal government put politics over children. It all started when the Obama Administration issued a last-minute rule saying that even faith-based entities working with the government to help children find forever homes had to comply with the Administration’s sexual agenda. In other words, the Obama Administration said that faith-based entities had to agree with the Administration on LGBT issues (even though LGBT classifications aren’t part of federal law) or—in many cases—shut down their ministry.
Faith-based ministries often specialize in placing hard-to-place children in forever homes—older children, special-needs children, and more. So, sadly, already-vulnerable children are those who suffer most when politics gets in the way of good adoption policy.
Thankfully, the Trump Administration is now prioritizing adoption—and working to keep kids first. His Health and Human Services Department (HHS) just issued a proposed new rule that protects faith-based adoption ministries—ensuring they will not be forced to choose between their faith and their service to their community’s children. This means that more agencies will be able to help children find a home—which makes the most sense when it comes to adoption policy.
Thousands of you have already thanked President Trump for prioritizing children and adoption in this way! Thank you so much!
But, more help is needed. The next step to ensuring that President Trump’s proposed rule becomes official adoption policy is called a “public comment period.” This means that the HHS Department will collect comments from the general public about whether or not to finalize the rule. You can be sure that they will hear from activists and others who want to keep the Obama-era policy that puts politics over children.
So, please join us in submitting as many comments as possible from believers, churches, families, and those who simply care about putting children first in support of President Trump’s proposed new rule!
Leaving a comment is very simple. Just click here, complete the simple form (comment and name) and click “Continue”. On the following page, just confirm and submit.
To make it even easier, here are some talking points to use when you write them—even a short paragraph is a huge help!
- I’m thankful that the Trump Administration is prioritizing adoption and making clear that children come first in his Administration’s adoption policy.
- I agree that faith-based agencies should be free to serve children, birth moms, and adoptive families according to their beliefs, and shouldn’t be punished by the government because of their faith.
- With so many children awaiting adoption, more adoption agencies serving these children (and giving birthmothers more options) is a very good thing!
- I fully support the proposed new rule RIN 0991-AC16.
For Keeping Kids First,
Autumn Leva, Esq.
Vice President for Strategy
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
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.