An aerospace company in New Mexico doesn’t have to remove workplace signs that use the word “God.” First Liberty attorneys contacted the U.S. Department of Energy when an overzealous government official directed a company contracting with the agency to expunge the word from inspirational signs at its workplace at Kirtland Air Force Base. The department quickly retracted the demand, leaving the company, whose slogan is “God, Family, Country,” buoyant. —S.W.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week proposed a rule to allow adoption and foster care agencies to place children according to their religious beliefs.
Though many private child-placing agencies don’t directly receive federal grants, state child welfare departments do. And when a private agency contracts with the state to help place foster and adoptive children, it comes under the umbrella of federal regulations. Those regulations included sexual orientation as a protected class, and many faith-based agencies ran afoul of the rules by declining to place children with same-sex couples. Until recently, most states allowed faith-based agencies to refer same-sex couples who wanted to foster or adopt a child to other agencies.
Challenges to such religious accommodations have had mixed results. Miracle Hill Ministries in Greenville, S.C., received a waiver from the Trump administration, allowing it to continue child-placing services in accordance with its Christian beliefs. But that was only after months of uncertainty, and the exception didn’t necessarily protect other faith-based agencies.
In Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, tried to require faith-based agencies to work with same-sex couples and LGBT individuals in the child-placement process. A federal court temporarily halted enforcement of those state rules as well as federal rules, but the case remains unresolved.
Philadelphia shut out Catholic Social Services from serving foster children and families because of unfavorable rulings in the federal courts. That case is currently on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Ultimately, we need not just better regulations, but a clear answer from the courts,” tweeted Becket’s Lori Windham, co-counsel on the Philadelphia case. Until then, faith-based agencies face an uncertain future in their efforts to assist orphaned and vulnerable children. —S.W.