Americans United in January blasted the Trump administration for its decision to sanction taxpayer-funded discrimination by allowing South Carolina foster-care agencies the right to refuse to work with anyone they deem the "wrong" religion.
The policy was issued in direct response to a request from South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) for a waiver to allow a publicly funded foster-care agency, Miracle Hill Ministries, to explicitly reject parents and volunteers who are not aligned with the agency's religious beliefs, including Jews and Catholics. The issue arose after a Jewish woman learned she could not mentor or foster children through Miracle Hill due to her faith.
"This is yet another example of the Trump administration using religion to advance a regressive political agenda that harms others. And this time, the target is not only religious minorities but also our most vulnerable children--those in need of loving homes," said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United. "It is unconscionable that this administration would use government funds to discriminate against the very populations our laws are designed to protect.
"While this waiver is specific to South Carolina, it sets a dangerous nationwide precedent that elevates the beliefs of government-funded programs over the best interests of the children in their care," Laser continued. "Religious freedom is a fundamental American right--it should never be used to justify discrimination."
AU says the policy could put a significant strain on the foster-care system and leave even more kids with out homes if more states seek similar waivers. Other agencies across the country are demanding the right to turn away otherwise qualified parents who don't pass a religious litmus test. There are already 443,000 children in foster care nationwide, including the 123,000 waiting for adoption--fewer than half of whom will find their forever home within a year.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the waiver, which was granted to the South Carolina governor Jan. 23.
The waiver allows...