Trump administration protects Christian foster agencies
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 1/23/19, 02:40 pm
In a resounding victory for faith-based child placement agencies, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday said a South Carolina adoption and foster care agency can continue to work only with families that share its Christian beliefs. A letter from HHS to South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster granted Miracle Hill Ministries, which handles about 15 percent of the state’s foster care placements, an exception to the department’s nondiscrimination clause.
The South Carolina Division of Social Services, acting as an intermediary between federal and local agencies, threatened to cancel Miracle Hill’s license after the Obama administration broadened the HHS nondiscrimination rules in 2017. McMaster, a Republican, appealed to HHS in February 2018 on behalf of Miracle Hill for an exception to the nondiscrimination rules. Nearly a year later, the HHS letter grants relief to Miracle Hill and “any other subgrantee in the [South Carolina] Foster Care Program that uses similar religious criteria in selecting among prospective foster parents.”
“The government should not be in the business of forcing foster care providers to close their doors because of their faith,” Lynn Johnson, assistant secretary for the HHS Administration for Children and Families, said Wednesday. “Religious freedom is a fundamental human right.”
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